2009/03/21: Jiang Luo 121 km
We thought we’d ascertained in Fenxian that there were hotsprings in Wushan. I love hotsprings, and they’re specially good for restoring tired bodies that have pedalled a long way, so we set Wushan as our goal for the next few days’ riding, promising ourselves a therapeutic rest day upon arrival. The first day was our longest yet, and included three passes. Although significant, they weren’t as steep or high as some of the passes we’d done in Yunnan. A noodle restaurant at the top of the second pass provided great views. We arrived in tiny Jiang Luo as it got dark, and found a truck drivers’ binguan where a crowd of feral boys followed us excitedly to our room.
2009/03/22: Tian Shui 101 km
Another long day to Tianshui. The country was opening up and the hills less steep, but the kilometres still put wear and tear on our aging bodies. We settled in to a good hotel, ate in their restaurant, and went out for coffee. To our delight, cappuccino was on the menu. We were told it was unavailable, however, so good black coffee arrived. When we asked for milk, we were provided two small “cream” containers that were well past their “best by” dates. An excellent singer played guitar for a well-heeled crowd.
2009/03/23: Wushan 106 km
The final long day to Wushan started with a climb to the top of a mesa, from which there were sweeping views of the terraced loess. Further on, a van load of security men and women hailed us for what I thought at first would be another passport check. It was only a photo session they wanted! We’re getting used to those.
Arriving in Wushan we found an aging hotel where the staff took half an hour of puzzling over the forms for registering foreigners, and still managed to make enough errors that we shortly had a visit from a uniformed and saluting PSB officer. She and a non-uniformed woman spent an hour in our room filling in the forms. It was all very pleasant, but it took a long time and we were hungry, tired, and unwashed. No hot water till 7:00 p.m. – make that more like 8:00 p.m..
We were also a bit stunned to have learned upon our arrival at the hotel that the much-anticipated hotsprings were not actually in Wushan, but 50 km back down the road. We had overshot, due to the linguistic challenges of information gathering. The ever-elusive hotsprings had escaped us again!