Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Riding the Iron Rooster

Oh, for the love of BLOG! Blogger decided that if I log in from a Chinese computer IT TOO must be Chinese. Note to techno-people: make me choose my own interface language.

So, I've decided to throw in the towel, and it was a nice towel too before it got oil-stained and dust-encrusted. I'm in a city called Sanmenxia, which has lost the whole point of its name, if you want to know.

Tomorrow, I'm bussing back to Xi'an, bike and all. I've come this way by bike, I think about 350km, but that's yet to be confirmed. Since having done that I certainly know pretty well I don't want to go back through that again.

This is just an introduction: I made notes. Suffice it to say that China has simply not endeared itself to me. Again. I try so hard. Here's the short version: The Chinese, as a group, with almost no exceptions, are the most inconsiderate, unfriendly, noisy and uncreative people in the world. I'm willing to discuss this. My Chinese friends even know my position. This trip has just, again, confirmed it. As a white South African such sweeping declarations about a whole other people seems extremely ill-advised. I agree. But for the love of white bread, I can't help it. I just don't meet exceptions. After a while it's terribly hard not to suspect genetic deviation.

As for the road from Xi'an: it's polluted and full of people and smells of shit all the way. Industrial wasteland, except for some pieces just inside Henan which are more like agricultural wastelands.

The cylcing itself went fine: I did between 50km and 80km a day and felt okay the next day. First two days were pouring with rain and the going was slow. Then it became merely foggy and dusty and hilly. On one day I had to walk up a mountain just before entering Henan Province. There was a road of course, but so steep I couldn't peddle, even by standing up on the bike.

At the end of every stretch my face was dark with dust, but it felt good to look back at some shitfaced piece of road and to know I kicked its ass.

This to say for China: never once on the road did I fear for my life. I was never in danger. I think that's more than we can say in South Africa.

That's it for now. I'll fill in the journey when I'm home in Xi'an. For now I would like to go find a bar -- in the interest of cultural exchange, you understand -- but Sanmenxia looks a little devoid of suchlike places. It's still the aftermath of Ten One (October the first, founding of the PRC) and the streets are packed for such a small city. Every -- every -- shop has a full sized red flag haning outside and the TV is full of period pieces about how wonderful Mao was and how bad and evil the Guomingdang was. There's a bit of a carnival atmosphere outside, but not in the friendly way we Western types think. I see the R2 per hour internet bar is pretty packed too, mostly QQ-ers and World of Warcraft. And the night is full of promise. And the smell of shit.


  1. impressive! 350km is pretty goed skiem ek. ek sien daai dorpie is nogsteeds in die Shaanxi provinsie, so dis 'n hel of 'n trek... (gou gaan loer, Shaanxi is 200,000 vierkante km so maak sin)


    ek het vanoggend wassery toe gestap. dit was 700m.

  2. huh? watter dorpie is in shaanxi province? Sanmenxia is clearly in Henan.

  3. Meskien het jy gesien daar's 'n klein dorpie in Henan genaamd Shaanxian (Erm, confusing in Chinees, want hierdie is twee karakters: Shaan en Xian) en Shaanxi Province beteken Wes van Shaan.

    [Dis hoekom Xi'an 'n apostrophe het: om te onderskei van die single karakter Xian. Ek wens Chinese mense het dit geweet.]

    Maar hierdie Shaanxian is in Henan. Okay. Ek's touchy oor die distance. Anyway, ek't verby Shaanxian gery en nie geweet watse significance dit het nie. Dit was 'n baie bree pad, lined met trokfabrieke en massiewe utopian signs met Deng Xiaoping se gesig op, en 'n reusagtige arch in die middel van nerens oor 'n sypad met ShaanXian se karakters bo-aan. Ek konnie eers sien waarheen die pad lei nie, so ek't geskiem dis net nog 'n wit olifant development wat goed gegaan het tot die arch klaar is en toe abandon is. Eers later gelees dit is actually die Shaanxi origin storie. Toe te laat om foto's te neem.

  4. OK, ek sien ek moes maar direk wikipedia toe gegaan het met "Sanmenxia" - hierdie laaste sin uit die blad waarna jy gelink het het my laat dink dis steeds in Shaanxi:

    "An ancient town Shaanxian is located nearby. It marked the territorial boundary between the lands of Lord Zhou and Lord Zhao around 3000 years ago. The provincial name Shaanxi refers to an area west of Shaanxian."

    So, baie jammer dat ek jou tog onderskat het ;-p maar ek dog maar net dis 'n groot provinsie.

    En Deng se gesig! Feature die nuwe makkers enigsins op die posters of is dit net die classic Cold War garde?