Friday a bus trip to Yanguan

Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Where I stayed
Yanguan
Xiasha
What I did
Sea God temple and other cool shit!

Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

THIS ENTRY IS FROM TWO WEEKS BEFORE.   I MERELY GOT AROUND TO FINISHING IT AND ADDED MOST OF THE PICTURES IN THE PAST TWO DAYS.   THE "RIDE TO THE SEA" STORY HAPPENED A WEEK AFTER THIS ONE....  (just re-edited again)
 




 On Friday,  my British friend Steve and I decided to go on a bus/walking trip for the day.  Steve is very much a walker, and can go for miles at the age of 62.   I mainly ride bikes, so my walking muscles do need some work.   We took the 868 bus to the bus station out of Xiasha,  with tons of humanity swinging from the handholds like sides of beef with the smells and noise and hell from this capsule of humanity, crammed into one hot bus with little ventilation.   I had to bitch to Steve:  "My god Guvnah,  how do you endure this human squalor  every week when you return to Hangzhou and back like you do?"   Steve just smiles and says that he is used to it.      I hate packed buses here.  I will gladly ride 90 minutes on my bike thru horrendous traffic so I don't have to swing from a meat hook for an hour, while people touch you all around and you are (usually falsely) worried about someone nicking your wallet or passport.   And the buses themselves are unmaintained so they drive them until they fall apart,  while the drivers go full speed over every bump and kill or bully anything on the road that is smaller than they are.    Farkin' crazy riding on the back roads for certain.  Yeah we made it to Yanguan after 1 1/2 hours of sheer hell. Only 30 kilometers.  I have driven my bike to Yanguan many times and its always just less than 2 hours and way more pleasant.........   Of course you have the two hour ride back which does hurt near the end...


So Steve and I went walking around Yanguan and saw things that I haven't seen before, considering that this was my third trip here.  First we went to the riverside park with a giant pagoda:  it was very expensive to get in (4 dollars) and the pagoda was locked.   No one was there except a few girls who enjoyed the same shade tree as us.   We wanted to climb to the seventh level of heaven (the top) of the pagoda but they wanted a few dollars more so forget it.    


We then left the expensive tourist trap (with no tourists there) and headed to the central part of Yanguan.    After entering the new looking replica of the river gate of the town,  we saw an old temple that was mainly intact.  "The Temple of the Sea God"  which was from the early 1700's. China has many types of temples folks,  just like America has many types of Churches.   

Traditional Chinese beliefs in Various Gods harken back to the Greco-Roman or even earlier times where people traditionally sent sacrifices to their Gods.  They still do this here.  they pray to these Gods.    I think the fact that China has the ancient religions intact,  as well as the later Buddhists, Jews, Christians,  Muslims,  is something special.   I know of no other country that is this ancient and leaves old religions to their practitioners.    Yes,  Many of the local fishermen here pray and burn incense to the dragonlike fish gods of the waters and expect healthy returns.
How many modern Egyptians pray and give sacrifice to Horus or Isis anymore?   See any Greeks burning sacrifices to Zeus and Apollo?   They still do this here.   From what I see they only sacrifice money and incense,  but I'm sure in the mountain villages they probably sacrifice other things.   These are pretty much the same Gods as in the Greek pantheon and more.   People along the Qaintang often worship their version of Neptune.   Blacksmiths worship their version of Vulcan the God of Fire.   Even the Buddhist temples have a collection of more ancient dieties for people to worship.   I like the guitar playing happy god (I call it the God of Rocknrolla) which I have shown in earlier blogs.   I only worship him and tend to ignore the others.       

I guess that my main point is that:   China is not the spiritually vacant commie land that many outsiders believe it is.   The Chinese,  even the atheist ones all participate in the "Ching Ming" festival or "Tomb Sweeping" day.   On this day they clean up and clear the old grass and brush from the graves of their ancestors.   They also burn money and incense in order to remember and honor their dead relatives.    Much like Mexico;s "Dia de los Muertes" or day of the dead. 

I see none of this traditional Chinese expressions of belief in brand new sterile "Xiasha" where I live.  But Xiasha has beautiful parks and scenery.   I like Xiasha as well as the older places.   But the older places are more interesting.   This is why I visit Yanguan quite often.

So Steve and I walked about Yanguan as far as my walking legs could carry me,  then we ducked in to a pleasant open restaurant for some fried Jouset (dumplings).  Like little ravilolis filled with pork or fish with green onion and rice.  You mix some red pepper paste and vinegar then dip each dumpling.  Nice stuff but a bit salty at this location.   I loved the old woman who ran the place and she was like a mother wanting to refill our bowls even when we were not hungry.   The open view to the street was remarkable and from our vantage point we could see all the bustling street activity while insulated from some of the noise.   Chinese folks live and breath on their streets,  nothing like Texas where everyone is hiding inside under Air conditioners or in cars.     I love Chinese streets,  but much better is to be able to watch while hiding in a fried dumpling restaurant with a birds eye view of it,  without actually having to be a participant.   Being the smiling foreigner gets tiring after a while.   Nice to have an outside place to chill without being seen.

Steve and I walked back to catch the 868  and we waiting in the tiny bus station for over an hour before we abandoned the idea in favor of the t-106 which would take us nearer to our home but we would have to catch another bus at another station.  I was wishing for a folding bike that would carry me away from all this madness.    But soon enough we were back in lovely Xiasha and home once again.


 


Sunday I returned to Yanguan with a Chinese friend named "Sunny",  he is a post grad who works half the week which is rare amongst 25 year old college students who have never known work.   Many wealthy Chinese do not want their children to do any outside work.  Its beneath them and causes them to lose face or something.  I wouldn't hire some one at age 25 who has never had a job before.  I'd hire someone like Sunny or Chen who has done some form of work before.   One of my 20 year old female students says she wants to work this summer but her mom thinks that a job would ruin her figure.   My guess is that the mom's view of her daughter is of a delicate little princess who shouldn't be stained by work.   Thinking can be very traditional (by traditional I mean Medieval) here.   I agree with much of this traditional thinking,  especially how devoted the children are to their parents.   But the concept of "saving face" as got to go.  

We stayed the night there in a nice castle like farmhouse which had a modern gate and beautiful tile on the outside.   In China you will see many of these three and four storied "farm houses",  Although they are huge they save on things like central air and heat, insulation and are mainly concrete brick with tile on the outside and smooth cement for walls.   Most Have a giant concrete fence and a huge ten foot gate made of stainless steel.   The tops of the outer walls occasionally have broken glass cemented to them to prevent thieves.   Each one is like a small castle in nearly every way.   They only cost about 50 grand on average,  and the entire family works many years to contribute to the "Castle Fund".   This Castle makes a good living for it's owners who charge nearly fifteen bucks to spend the night there.   No frills of course,  and you do get an instant family of nice folks,  but they do require one to be inside the gates before they close at 8 PM.   I have stayed there three different times and I simply enjoy the place.   Very foreign and charming.   Clean beds,  sticky floors,  no rats or insects,  nice village views out the windows.   Use of the Air conditioner is another 3 bucks but I dont need it at this time of year.   Sunny was a cool roomie who didn't complain about my snoring.  He was out like a light early on and heard nothing I assume.

 

Sunny and I left Yanguan on Monday and rode to Zhekou which is another 20 k down on the last peninsula of the river before it becomes total ocean.  In fact,  the river is so wide there that one can't see the other side unless its a perfectly clear and sunny day.   There are huge sandy beaches on the river shore due to the big daily tidal bore that sweeps violently up the river every single day.   We were pretty much at the ocean.  The breeze, the view, the beaches,  the salt water, ect..  all signified OCEAN.   But if fact the South China sea was another 30 kms away and too far for us to ride to when we had to be back in Xiasha the same day.    I vowed to hit the Sea on my next attempt.   and read on to see if I made it.    



Sunny and I raced back to Yanguan but I got a flat tire at the last 7 kms.   We fixed it with my tools but I neglected to find what caused the flat in the first place (I havent used a patch since high school but now I know).   I simply folded up my bike and waited at a bus stop and got a cramped but welcome ride back to Yanguan.   They Charged me a double fare where was 1.20 total.  Once in Yanguan I went to a shop where the folks were friendly and knew me.  They brought be to a tire fixer guy a few doors down.  This wonderful man dropped the huge truck tire he was working on (I didnt know how to say "I am staying here tonight,  no hurry),  the truck guy was there first"  but I just know how to smile and act grateful which I was.   I sat on the outdoor table of the restaurant next door and had a couple beers while I waited.   He found a very tiny yet evil looking sliver of metal sticking into my tire.   My kevlar tire is nearly impervious to punctures,  but this sliver was so thin and strong,  he could barely remove it with pliers.    He did caution me to replace the tube since it had two patches on it now.    I have ridden over 200 kms since then and can attest to this man's tire patching abilites.   In America I doubt one would get this caliber of service.  He did charge me 2 dollars after spending 45 minutes working on my tire.   Then he apologized for having to take so long and charge so much.   He said he mainly works on truck tires and this was the first bike he fixed in a long time.

Sunny soon caught up then headed back to Xiasha which was another 30 k for him to go.   I stayed in Yanguan.   Today I rode 60 Kms,  Sunny did 90 k,  which is 10 k farther than I have ever gone.   And Sunny kept up with me just fine although he wasn't a regular rider.   Most non regular riders fail to keep up with me,  but Sunny can.   I stay in Yanguan merely because I wanted to enjoy another night in this magical town and I wanted to be there alone with no assistance from Chinese friends.  My first overnighter in a small Chinese town totally alone.   I liked it a lot,  but I see the wisdom in buying an electronic English to Chinese translator.

I wandered around town on my bike for awhile,  found the North Gate of the ancient city all new and rebuilt.   I rode around, looking for restaurants that had pictures on the walls and found a decent Muslim place.   I saw a dish with onions and meat on top of noodles,  I pointed to it and said "Baaaaaaaaaa" meaning that I want sheep or goat mean rather than beef (Chinese beef is usually old milk cow or water buffalo),  and the owner understood.    I was relieved to see that they sold cold beer,  which is rare in a Muslim restaurant.

I went back to my hotel and watched Chinese TV for a couple hours and crashed after a decent days ride.   Woke up at 7 AM took a shower,  said goodbye to my new family, grabbed a bite to eat and stocked up on water.  Then did the 30 K sprint back to Xiasha alone.   Great experience overall.

 
 


 


 



 
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Comments

Joanne on

Vivid descriptions! Next best thing to being there.

Joanne on

Re-read this today and glad i did. I found more analogies to admire, nice use of figurative language, your love for observing the Chinese people and their culture--all rang true..

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