08 May, 2008

On the road day 1- Monday 28 April. Qinzhou to Bama (450kms)

This day started off with a very smooth run from Qinzhou back to Nanning where I checked out of my hotel and packed all my luggage on to the Mighty Haobon.
My first challenge was balancing my backpack on the seat - initial attempts resulted in a rgualr lean to starboard of my load. This was resolved by purchasing an extra long local bungee cord and wrapping over the top of my pack as wel as to the small top box.

The second challenge was finding my way out of Nanning (a regular problem with all large cities). My first attempts (seeking advice from hotel staff and bus station personnel) ended up in disappointment by leading me 180 degrees in the opposite direction, and on to the main expressway - essentially I had been told the correct way but for cars NOT bikes (which are not allowed on 99% of the expressways in China). I ended up getting the expressway attendant to call the local police who then found an interpreter to help over the phone.

I'm advised to take route 324 and 1 hour later I've finally left town and I'm headed on what I think is the right route. Only problem is that it is by no means the shortest route and I find myself heading out west, instead of North which I really want. A quick scan of the map and I find a road that takes me North East and hopefully will join back up to highway 210 - my preferred route - at some point.

In China the regular roads go AROUND and UP and DOWN the mountains whilst the Expressways go THROUGH the mountains using tunnels. Now the maps of course show distances based on Expressway routes and these can be up to 5 times shorter(and 10 times quicker) than the circuitous routes I was forced to take.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it was the sheer beauty of the road. This part of China is probably the prettiest of all. Mountains simply rise out of the ground like spikes and all the terrain that is sowable is terraced and planted with rice and other crops.
The riding was particularly thrilling as the little 125 is really in its element on tight mountain roads and can easily be thrown from side to side. This isn't a race though and the sheer beauty of the scenery was sufficient to get me to slow and enjoy riding at a leisurely pace.

As I ascend the mountains the temperature starts to drop a little and things get a little misty.

I start to look around for towns and just before nightfall I pull into the outskirts of Bama - a mountain village Bama North East of Bai Se - and select the first hotel I find. No one speaks a word of English but sign language, combined with the trusty electronic translator, snags me a room for 50 yuan (approx $7).

I ask about food and the hotel owner takes me down to the kitchen where the cook offers to prepare something for me from scratch. Unfortunately one look at the meat in the freezer is enough to tell me I'd rather not so I settle for the old cup of noodles for 60 cents before dropping off into an exhausted sleep for a well earned rest.

Total distance was 450kms today for 12 hours in the saddle.

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