2009/03/13: Zitong – bus and 74 km
We rode 10 km to the bus station through Chengdu. One doesn’t “take the lane” here. For non-cyclists, “taking the lane” refers to that North American urban cycling tactic of asserting oneself among the cars, secure in the knowledge that we have the same rights as a motor vehicle. In Chengdu, the streets are broad and there is is a separate lane for bikes and motorcycles, of which there are many. Off we went. The vast intersections, we learned, have separate crossings for two-wheeled types and for pedestrians. A lady with a flag and a whistle keeps order. We made the faux pas of cycling in a pedestrian crossing, and were chided. I managed to catch the word for “leg” as we were scolded by Mrs. Flag. We hopped off to wheel our bikes, appeasing her.
We took a bus to Mianyang, avoiding an industrial area, and set out on our new route from there as per Dong and Mike’s suggestion. The first day was less than spectacular, and we found a basic hotel in Zitong. I was being cheap, and had turned down a more expensive option, so we were in the hotel that had the correct forms to register foreigners but had probably never used them. The girl at the desk likely made mistakes in the process, so we received another visit from the PSB. It was not at the late hour of the Danba visit, and was a friendly affair. “Canadians good people! Norman Bethune! I like to ride bicycle too.”
2009/03/14: Pu-An 78 km
On the way to Pu-an, the road climbed and followed a ridge through cypress forest. Fields of canola were in flower. We began to pass through villages with roads lined with piles of bricks, and where every building was under reconstruction. We’d entered the earthquake zone. We had changed our route for the more westerly option after the quake, since the Canadian government had been advising against travel here during reconstruction. There were hotel rooms available, however, and we didn’t get the feeling we were interfering with the recovery process. We have only passed through the edge of the zone, and not near the epicentre.
2009/03/15: Guangyuan 87 km
A man on a motorcycle led us to a hotel in Guangyuan, and had a great time seeing us to our room and exclaiming over Chris’s beard, which is getting large and long. He very jokingly called him a yanguuizi – foreign devil. I agree that he’s starting to look like one.