Back on the road – and reason #437 to love China

Shit. This time, I was pushing my luck to far. And my bicycle. Two hours ago I was in a lovely city with hotels, supermarkets and flat roads. The thought of a night at a hotel wasn’t appaling too much.

I just left Kunming after lunch and was so happy to be back cycling. I didn’t want to stay at a hotel when I could camp. Get the whole feeling of being on tour.

Now I am in the middle of the mountains. Well… technically not the middle yet. For the middle I was missing another 5k or so. But I am 12k in. Far enough to feel like I was in the middle. Hard 12km. Beautiful 12km. Or, beautiful 9Km (3km were a busy G-road where I was either be run over by trucks or fall into the ditch if I didn’t keep my frontwheel perfectly straight).

And it’s getting dark – that’s the optimistic view. Actually it was almost dark. The paved road ahead is covered in rocks from a recent rock slide. My front wheel about to loose grip but at least I am cycling – and not leaning forward, pushing my bike as before. And some time after this.

During the sections that are nice to cycle, I get my noodles out and eat them like a cracker. It’s dinnertime, I need energy and I want to keep going.

So, almost dark – even for the optimistic – I get my headlamp out – which isn’t as bright as I remembered it to be. Sh… I turn it off. Whatever’s left of the battery life I will use to suss out my campsite and set my tent. But there is no campsite. Still. I remind myself I still have energy left. I can still do it. I started late with the cycling this day. So it wasn’t like I did 80k already. Actually, I left Fumin thinking, I would like to do at least 50k today and camp. But… To my left it goes down, to my right it goes up. The two flat tent-sized pieces of land I spotted where the entrance to a public toilet and a garbage site. Not appealing. The sky is getting darker and darker – it feels like it’s completely dark already but I know it will get pitchdark soon.

A truck is coming up behind me – I would love to stop it and ask for a ride, but the way his engine is working hard on the uphill, it probably won’t be able to keep driving if stopped. So on I go. My phone is out of battery by now but it doesn’t really matter as there is only one road anyw….

Oh – Sh…. the road devides into two sections. Should I go up or down? Time for a rest, while the very last bit of light slips away and the night sky with countless stars appears. I admire it while waiting for my phone to suck energy from the battery pack.

I still have energy. I can keep going. And I still have food and water left. I peptalk myself. Feeling devastated and stuck won’t help me anyway, so I might as well keep my spirits up. If needed I’d just cycle (and push) through the night. 55K to Jiashizhen. A city big enough to have a hotel to sleep all day. At my current average that’s just a bit more than 11hrs and chances are I find a campsite before.

And this is the moment, where I can hear it, waiting for my phone and calculating the time until I reach my destination in my head. Is it really coming out of my direction? I turn around and see the headlights of a car! Oh yeah! Smiling, I wave my hand in the way you do in Asia to stop a car, and it stops. I ask for help, for a lift. Hoping. Even if they would take me 10k I would be happy. Then it would be only 9hrs to my next destination and rest. 

Long story short – my new friend tried to talk his boss into letting my camp at their construction site and ended up calling two work mates that gave me a lift back to Fumin while he was giving me advice for an alternative route. The road ahead was apparently closed for construction – which is why they were there.

Oh, and in case you are wondering:

#436 is ordering insane shoes from Taobao

#438 are awesome, 24hrs Spas with party-dinner-buffets (not dinner-party-buffet, it really way party-dinner)– you will learn more about that later in this blog. Promise!

My travel buddy – how Mouse and I met

Here is the story how I got Mouse as my most reliant travel buddy.

And she is the best travel buddy. Always in a good mood, available and keen on seeing new places. And her ears make sizzling noises when you massage them. Apart from that she is very quiet.

Only downside is her laziness. Not one step does she do on her own. She wants to be carried always and everywhere. For photos she insisted on being leaned against something – otherwise she simply lies flat on the ground. So finally we agreed on buying some wire for her last weekend when we were in picture-perfect Dali, China. Mouse finally agreed on waving as well on that day. We are still working on the perfect exo-skeleton set-up and are open for recommendations. 

My favourite travel buddy waiting for some tea

So, we met four years ago, at Hamburg Airport. It was both our first time going to Asia. But to be honest, she never told me where she is from. Maybe each trip to China is a bit of going home to her origins? We got introduced through my niece, who was one year of age at that time. But here’s the whole story from my point of view:

My stomach flatters. I am nervous and excited. Desperate to go and afraid to leave. The whole mixture of feelings before starting to a very new place. Lust for adventure and new things wins – plus I had commited to a job and a paid plane ticket in my hand.

Family and friends come to the Hamburg airport to see me off. I am going to China for the very first time. My father is here. My mother. As well as my sister and her boyfriend, Kai, they are also the parents of my first niece. She is about one year old at this time. My boyfriend. Around my neck a necklace one of my closest friends gave me for my 30th birthday a few weeks ago.

We are standing in line, two huge suitcases to check in, backpack on my back. Apart from my family I am surrounded by people with cardboard boxes, speaking a language I don’t understand at all. Despite my try to get a grasps of the basics in the last months.

So, do I have everything with me I COULD just eventually need in China?! No. I don’t. Kai runs off to the overpriced airport supermarket to return with two rolls of toilet paper. I hardly know anything about my new destination, about the city where I am planning to spent the next 12 months. But I do know that one of the worst things is to be somewhere without a sufficient amount of toilet paper.

Going towards the security gate I start to feel a bit wary, having to leave all of them behind. When Kai produces the mouse. „When I asked our daughter what to give to you, since you are going away for a year, she was very determined in handing me this toy.“

I smile and clutch on to the mouse. Not SO alone after all.

And that’s the story how Mouse became my travel buddy.

When I left on my current trip, my niece – almost five year old at that time – and I agreed on me taking pictures with Mouse for her.

Where I spent the last seven nights…

1. In Seoul, my first sleep-over in a Jjimjilbang. A sauna place that’s open 24/7 and offers places to sleep. A kind of stressful place that’s a bit too big but an adventure.
2. In Incheon, my second sleep-over in a Jjimjilbang. A great experience that you will be able to read about later.
3. On the ferry – finally. Even though it went to Weihai instead of Lianyungang (check it out on a map. It’s quite a distance between the two). Another adventure you sure can read about soon.
4. and 5. At Weihai-beach in my tent.
6. and 7. Number 6 had just happened at time of writing, 7 is to come. On the train from Yantai to Kunming, after transfering 30 minutes from Weihai to Yantai-South-Station and an hour on the bus to go from Yantai-South to Yantain-Mainstation.

And all this being out and about is the reason I can’t post pics here at the moment. But they are on my instagram (naiveorbrave) and will be here eventually as well.

Climbing in Busan!

I stayed a week in Busan – I found climbers! I wasn’t carrying all this stuff for no reason around Korea! I sent everything that wasn’t a necessity to Kunming, China before I went to Korea. No jumper left, no sleeping back, less socks, less pants (remember the pants part…) undies and painkillers. BUT shoes, harness, helmet and quickdraws for climbing and my backpack to get to the climbing spot with my gear. About half of mz stuff in my two panniers was climbing related and apart from the shoes I haven’t used anything yet as I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go climbing when it’s 37°C out.

But – now! In Busan! A group of guys is going to two different spots on the weekend – I am excited. We meet at a bouldering gym a few days before and it becomes obvious that I will bring a book to the climbing site since I will only be able to do the easy ones. But who cares? I don’t. Well, not too much. I wanna go anyway and they are still happy to take me.

The weather changed since the taifun – it’s actually raining in the morning but will stop at 11:30, long before we finish the almost two-hours-drive and the following 40-minute-hike. So, Remi, Matthias and I are in good faith when we meet. I wear the less-good-pair-of-pants of my two pairs. The other one doesn’t have holes and I don’t want to spoil it climbing.

It’s 11:30 and the rain continues. And continues. We park the car, debate, grab some snacks and start hiking. Even if it stopped now – the rock will be wet so we leave the gear behind. The hike actually involves some bouldering, rope support and I – as the least hiking experienced in our group – need a hand a couple of times.

It’s a beautiful spot, right at the sea, but not a place where I want to fall from a low height. The floor consists of boulders of different shape and size which would make any grounder uncomfortable. The rock looks good, but for me, for sure hard. Remi and Matthias are more devastated by not being able to climb.

Back in the city we stop by at Remi’s place and he hands me one of his shorts before we go to dinner. Remember the hints about my pants? Well… they had a couple of holes on the outer legs before. By now, after going along the rocks, they have completely fallen apart and I was in no shape to go even for a street-food-dinner.

The day ended with Matthias fulfilling his dream of eating eel – once the waiter fried them on our table Matthias didn’t look to sure anymore and I was happy I opted for sweet pancakes from a stall outside anyways and a change in plans for the next day. Giving up on the weather, we would meet at the climbing gym.

Day 13 to 16 – Peixian

So many things happened – I will need some time to write down the stories.
But I had an amazing time in Peixian, experienced the culture, spend time with my friend and her family. It was relaxing, even though we did many different things and I experienced so much I would fall asleep at 9pm.
And I got around to organize so much – especially since I had her help.

Details will follow, I just leave you with some pics for now.

What’s most important for a cyclist to relax? Knowing her bike is safe!
The prettiest mantous ever! Huan has so much fun experimenting with colours and shapes
One of the best and most special experiences in Peixian!
.. that’s all I am taking to Korea with me. I sacrificed everything long-sleeved apart from my rain-coat.
Sending some of my stuff to Yunnan

Day 12 – Enjoying my life and being delighted in Peixian

Mantou! The triangle-ones are sweet ones filled with sugar!
Jiao-bing. My favourite kind of pancake

I simply enjoy hanging out a lot but looking at the pics I realize how much I experience everyday anyway.

I am writing – actually finished my second article for saporedicina.
I am Organizing my student visa.
I am relaxing.
I am learning new words. Huan is a great teacher. Very encouraging but strict on the pronounciation. Not teaching me too fast and keeps repeating the words and correcting me.
I am eating the best food. Loads of veggies and fruit as you can see on my instagram as well as the specialities. I feel like I am a person in one of these travel books I love to read.
I am sleeping. Sleeping in in the morning. Having a nap at lunch time. Going to bed early.
I do yoga and go for walks while everyone around me worries about me melting.

I am jogging around a temple in the evenings! How awesome is that?

If anyone would have told me 5 years ago, that I would do that in some Chinese village I never-ever heard of before in 2018…
I didn’t have anything to do with China at that time of my life. I was getting out of a bad relationship. Going through a really bad time and with some parts I don’t know if I would have managed if I didn’t have wonderful friends around me supporting me. During these awful and dark times I just had a glimpse, an idea, that my life will be better in one point of the future. I was just about to finish my college education and I am grateful I found the courage and reason to do so.

I am really happy that life led me this way – even though I would have prefered to fall in love with a country were the visa stuff would be a whole lot easier!

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