Buses, Breakdowns, and Dim Sum - Part 2
Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
42Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
considered waiting for the next bus, but the driver ushered us on anyway so we figured that some of us would be standing. Patti got the last seat, and Peter and I sat down on this wooden platform that was placed in the front of the bus between the driver and passenger seats, while
Steve leaned on the pole near the door. We considered the bus full, but we were SO wrong. Before the bus left ten minutes later, at least 20 more people boarded. They filled in the spaces around Peter and me, sat all the way down the aisle on small footstools provided by the ticket
girl, and crowded in to completely fill the area near the front door
bus was full to the brim! Peter had a lady actually sleeping on his arm, and still the bus driver kept stopping. It was entirely ridiculous.
The next day we rented bikes so that we could ride through the countryside along a smaller river that ran through the rice paddies. We woke up to a heavy drizzle, but decided to buy some ponchos and go for it, since it was our last day. Peter and I had some experience at this so we rented the better quality mountain bikes, even thought the price was a little higher. As is typical, we had to leave a deposit, about $200 for all four bikes. We got two blocks away and Steve had a flat tire. Surely, this was a sign for us, but we didn't realize it so we went back and they traded him out for another bike. The journey out of town was hard, lots of traffic and the wind and rain was in our faces, but once we got out of the city our moods lightened right up. This part of the region is perhaps more beautiful than what we had seen by boat two days earlier. There were many other bikers this time, unlike in December.
Our planned route was about 20 kilometers round trip, and the destination was the Yulong Dragon Bridge. Well, I'd say, oh, about 6k out we were pedaling hard up a steep dirt road when I tried to shift gears and my bike completely broke apart. Apparently, it was the derailleur, which
holds up the chain, the pedal, pretty much everything that is essential to making a bike work
We were congratulating ourselves on making it through, only about 2k from the main road, when the third bike we rented that day failed us. Peter had a flat now. Luckily, a kind tourist from Beijing stopped to help us and led us back to a bike repairman that we had only passed a few hundred yards back. In fact, we think it was a probably a set up with spikes in the road ;) After about twenty minutes we were on the road again, but so ready to be back at the hotel with a
hot shower to clean all the mud off. We had one more opportunity for excitement, though, because Peter still had to light off his firecrackers
Somehow I knew when we made it into Yangshuo it wasn't going to be that easy, and I was right. The woman at the bike shop was not planning to give us our money back. She just kept saying, "The bike was fine when you left, I don't understand how you could break it." Like hello, uh, that's what I'm saying. How do you think we felt when your bike busted out in the middle of nowhere and forced us to tow it back? I was arguing away with Peter and Patti at my back, and wasn't getting anywhere. It was really looking bad, but I was just not willing to let it go. After about 15 minutes of this I finally looked at her and said, look, you better call you manager back again and tell him you're giving us the money cause we're not leaving. She realized that this was going to turn into a bigger scene than it already was, and they had potential customers hanging around. All of a sudden she just changed her mind and said we could pay 100 yuan for the damages. ($14). We took our money and got outta there!
I really couldn't believe that I had won that argument, but we weren't about to pay $200 for one broken bike piece! The rest of the trip was, luckily, uneventful. We made it back to Zhuhai safely and Peter and I went back to work. Before Steve and Patti left we were still able to cram in a tour of our school, foot massages, street food on Walking Street, a tour of the local markets, go-karting, shopping at the underground (where Peter haggled a guy down on a watch from 150 yuan to 30 yuan), picking our seafood live from the tank for dinner, morning tea, a trip to Macau, and dinner at our favorite Portuguese restaurant and more. It was so great to finally show our family around our new city! My side is next!!
There are A LOT of photos (and the video), but I think they are worth your time! I just couldn't leave out any good ones, and I already left plenty out as it is. Mom, Dean, and J - you might not want to look because some of it is in the schedule for your trip too!
M & P