Fauxbo's Dilemma Sweet Potato Chips
Resting in a park
Homestay grandma and grandkid
Dudes hangin' out.
I popped by this old town called Jimingyi. It was definitely the coolest people-made place I've been too so far. It was a postal outpost several hundred years ago, connecting Beijing and Inner Mongolia. Now it's mostly falling apart, but in a really rustic, beautiful, (here's that word again) authentic sort of way. Reminded me of a Bright Eyes lyric:
"And I sat watching a flower
as it was withering.
I was embarrassed by
No colors, no pretensions.
Rock, mortar, wood, dirt.
The whole city was walled in. Each wall was about 1km long and only had one entrance, here at the center. I nearly just rode by, figuring that there would be an entrance fee. Then I saw someone just buzz in nonchalantly on a moped and I figured I'd give it a try.
Along the way, I stopped to have a snack. I chose this park because they were playing corny-sounding old Chinese music and at least twenty-five couples were dancing ballroom-style in the park. As soon as I sat down on the ledge to eat my apple and street bread, though, people started to gather around me, some poking my bike, some trying to chat me up, some just staring. I placated them as best I could while munching and then asked if I could take a picture before going. It was then that I noticed that nobody was left on the dance floor. They had all come to gawk at me.
On the perils of not being able to read a menu. I thought I had ordered one dish of vegetables and one dish of noodles. Instead, I got two plates of noodles, one of which had stir-fried vegetables in it. I am POSITIVE that it didn't have the character for "noodle" in the dish name.
Shop owner and I had a chat about the characters on the piece of art above. I showed off which ones I could read and gave him a little lesson in Korean pronunciation.
Couchsurfing in a giant empty fancy shmancy apartment.
I ran into these folks who had pulled over to the side of the road to pick wild jujubes. We chatted (in Chinese!) for about 30 minutes while stuffing ourselves. Turns out the pink lady's sister teaches Chinese in Koera. Also, the yellow pants one refused to join me on my trip.
The view from where I camped that night.
It's getting chilly! Down to 50 degrees (F) at night. Good thing I've been trying to live without heat in the winter in Korea for the last two years. Then again, I had comforters and hoodies then.
Climbing and climbing.
A new record! Getting up this high nearly killed me. Out of about 40km up to this point, at least 35 had been uphill, and the last 3 or so had been in my lowest gear.
Rewarded with a plate of tofu and vegetables in hot pepper oil at the end. Two dollars.
And then the trail kept going up! My optimism had been crushed enough times to know that this wouldn't be the final pass.
Still more climbing, even on the other side of this.
1416 meters! Yeahhhhhhh! After this, I coasted downhill, not pedaling once for 20km, then only occasionally for the subsequent 10. I need new brake pads.
On my way (to my friend's) home!
Dudes who stopped me, chatted, gave me water, and offered some advice about the road ahead. Specifically, they said to take a detour on Xi'an Lu Road so as to avoid a certain 1000m high mountain pass.