I can’t believe how much stuff I have accumulated in the last two years… I suspect I have hoarding issues… but you never know when that empty jar might come in handy for something. In the words of the oracle, Winnie-the-Pooh, about his Useful Pot To Keep Things In: “You can keep anything in it, it’s Very Useful like that”. Perhaps these issues stem from my childhood…
I’ll be sending my precious things back to Australia, and I’m trying to be pragmatic about whether they are worth the cost of transport. It can be a tough decision… is that favourite shirt that cost $5 really worth another $5 to transport back home, especially if I won’t remember that I owned it until I open the box again in a year – or more, lets face it most of us have unopened boxes of guff from previous lodgings that we have no idea what’s in them. I can’t even remember what I have in storage in Australia, but I’m sure I figured I wouldn’t be able to live without it when I packed it all away.
I gave myself a rest day today, my legs were a little tired and stiff when I woke up this morning. I have clocked up a bit over 200km in the last few days so I think I’ve earned it. I’ve been trying to train in all weather conditions, but I have to admit that sopping wet days are not exactly inspiring. Especially when even the sunflowers look depressed by the weather. I also seem to have developed the knack of heading out for a training session when a head-wind hits both on the way up the lake and on the way back – a real gift.
My favourite part of riding around Dali is the amazing smiles I get from the locals as they are going about their business. The head-nod of recognition is truly international, and I often feel like one of those strange toy dogs you see in the back of cars whose heads are perpetually bobbing up and down. One thing that still amuses me is the tendency of the locals to call out “hello!”, but only after you’ve ridden by. Initially I tried turning in the saddle to acknowledge them, but this proved to be a bad idea as it affects your steering considerably. It’s all fine and good to return the greeting, but the inevitable loss of control that results makes for a rough training session, and the expression of fear turns a friendly greeting into something less than amicable. In the interests of international relations, I’ve adopted the over-the-shoulder wave as a compromise.
Returning to one of my favourite topics: road use in China. The roads over here are an extension of public space. They are not the sole domain of vehicles, but areas that are for free use by all. While exploring the area on bicycle, I’ve been contributing to the agricultural output of the region. It seems that the logical method for threshing the seeds out of weed-like plants is to use the passing traffic instead of a dedicated machine. Farmers place their crops on the road and it is the traffic passing over said crops that thresh out the seeds. This is all good when you are in a truck or a car, but there is a limit to the contribution that a bicycle can make to this endeavour, particularly when the crop is at least a foot deep and covers both lanes of the road.
At the moment it is fish-drying season on the roads. One lane is entirely taken up with little white fish being dried on netting laid on the black tarmac. Most of the way up to Tao Yuan is taken up with this process, and the smell is challenging to say the least. It’s like a bait shop that has been without refrigeration for a week.
Another odour challenge is the pig-sty fertiliser that is being transported on tractors, piled at least 2.5m above the height of the trailer. The by-product of this, particularly during wet weather, is not pleasant and a face mask becomes mandatory. The height and density is testament to the farmers ability to pack a vehicle as full as it will go, even Poppy (my father, an engineer and expert at fitting stuff into tight spaces) would be impressed.
A big shout-out to Ian and Jen for their generous donations to my fundraising efforts, cheers guys! If you would like to make a donation, just follow this link: how to donate. Remember, all the money raised goes directly to the Cancer Council of Victoria, and all donations are tax-deductible for Australian citizens. Melanoma is a serious health problem for Aussies, so think of your donations as a kind of insurance… just trying out some psychological manipulation, let me know if it works!
As always, I hope you are doing amazing things with amazing people and are surrounded by love and happiness.