March 30, 2013
Distance: 42.1 miles Climbing: 2401.6 ft
We must have started biking during rush hour, because the road was busy. After yesterday’s excitement, neither of us was interested of having a repeat or dealing with the traffic.
As usual, we encounter a 400m pass, which we were expecting. The pavement was smooth and trees lined both sides of the road. If only every pass had such a nice road. The sky was filling up with clouds, so we were having a nice time climbing when we heard a boom in the distance. Suddenly, it was raining on us heavily. We stopped and rushed to pull out our raincoats which were buried deep in our panniers. It was a good thing we stopped because a semi carrying a segment of a wind tower came charging up the hill. This thing was an extra large load and probably would have swept us off the winding road.
The rain ended as quickly as it began, so onwards and upwards we went, shedding our raincoats as the sun came back out and cooked us. The scenery was incredible on the way down the other side. All the hillsides were terraced with tea bushes or rice fields. The change in air temperature was obvious as we descended, becoming thicker and warmer. After a few switchbacks, we were at the bottom of a valley with only a few miles to the day’s destination, Mengman.
When we hit Mengman, it was dirty and smelled like gasoline. The main drag was a dusty cobble stoned track that we we’re much interesting in rambling around on. Before we knew it we were at the base of the hill, out of town – back in the midst of banana plantations almost immediately. Once we realized that we had cleared the town, neither of us felt like turning around. We figured we could find a place to camp or find another town with a hotel. After a quick snack, we continued on.
We biked along a shady road which eventually became steeper and steeper. My legs were tired so I soon fell behind Chandler while cursing the terrain. We passed a number of brand new buildings and hotels, but nothing was open. As we crested a pretty large hill we came to a newish looking development of four story buildings built with pseudo-rustic wooden gables and slate roofs. Most of the shops were closed, vacant or were converted into housing, but after a little bit of looking we found a hotel that was open.
As usual, Chandler went in and all the arrangements for us and the bikes. After looking at the room, he said it was 80¥ and we might be able to squeeze the bikes in with us. I expected the place to be a dive, but the room ended up being large enough for us to have a game of catch. The room could only be described as palatial.
We settled in, taking up less than half of the room and tried the TV. On occasion, we have been able to find a movie of the news in English. Tonight, all we found were Kung Fu films and melodramas. Chandler decided to go out and find some food while I just read. He came back a few minutes later with stir fried noodles. He quickly devoured his meal and wanted another. After convincing me to join him, we went down to the street. I was in luck. These noodles could be made vegetarian, so for the first time in China, I enjoyed the street food with Chandler.