April 10, 2013
Distance: 26.7 miles Climbing: 1781.5 ft
We started the morning with a lovely ride along some old local roads heading out of town. We were able to spend a few miles pedaling through farms and a residential area before merging up with the old highway. Since the main highway went north through a different valley, this old route wasn’t too bad with smooth pavement and little traffic. We were in a valley following a river, which meant we were struggling against a monster headwind. It didn’t really seem to bother us. We had an overcast sky which meant cool riding and were both in wonderful moods.
We didn’t have too far to travel to get to Weishan, an ancient city situated in a long valley which managed to be left unscathed by the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. We were looking forward to reaching a more touristy town, dreaming about cheese, real coffee etc, but took our time on the road. We stopped to buy some strawberries and tomatoes on the side of the road. The wind was really blowing and swept the hat off the woman selling the fruit. Luckily, it landed right in my arms, which she appreciated. I noticed we paid the same rate for our strawberries as the Chinese trucker who had also stopped to make a purchase.
As we approached town, Chandler and I became more and more excited. We passed buildings with old styled roofs, the kind I had envisioned all buildings in China to have, and murals. It appeared that we were finally going to a town with some culture!
The center of town was easy to locate because it is built up around the Gongchang Tower. Shooting off from the tower were cobblestone roads lined with tourist shops and antique sellers. We hurried to find a hotel before setting off to explore the town. We walked up and down every street in the old town admiring the architecture before deciding it was time for dinner. Weishan is mostly visited by Chinese tourists, so there were no restaurants catering to Westerners, meaning no vegetarian food. Chandler was excited though. He found a place serving steamed dumplings with a delicious spicy dipping sauce. We also stopped in a bakery across from our hotel for desert, which as usual, turned out to be a disappointing exercise. Our “butter bread” baguette looking things turned out to be covered in a cloyingly sweet salty mess. Chan managed to power through them, waste not, want not… right?
We went to bed excited for the next day, our final bike ride in China from here to Dali City.