Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My world walk blog/ China Part 2/ blog #50

My world walk blog/ China Part 2/ blog #50

6th December and 36 kilometres took me to a small village called Dongyuanzhen which was just off the highway. So many nights on Chinas east coast have been like this. With nowhere suitable to camp due to excessive vegetation, paddy fields, tracks, and urban activity. I just kept walking as hotel accommodation is also not as plentiful in Chinese villages.  When I stopped in a grocery store for some pot noodles the kind people there topped my tub up with some fish and meat pieces. The real reason I stopped there was that across the road I had eyed up a sheltered area with two wooden benches. It would be ideal if I could lay my sleeping bag there for the night. No sooner had I settled down when a motorcycle cop pulled up. I hadn't realised that I was beside the small villages police station! For my explanation, I just referred the nice officer over to my friends in the grocery store and then he returned with two cans of Budweiser for me. I strongly refused but he pulled rank on me, so I stuck them in Karmas pouch. 
Then a stellar 45-kilometre day walking to near Jieshanzhan. Much of that was into a fierce headwind.  The last hour I walked in the dark and on some nice pathways and eventually came out onto the main road. Google Maps told me to walk on what looked like a desolate track. Obviously, I didn't fancy that late at night. What to do. Once again, camping possibilities were pretty crappy so I stopped for refreshment but this time at a restaurant which was conveniently placed at that junction. I asked if I could shelter under a secluded area. The lad that was on duty called his boss and a little later the owner's son came out. He is called Hai bin Xu and he took to my walk with keen interest. We communicated via our translate apps and he asked intelligent questions including how do I promote my cancer awareness message about the need for early cancer screening. Next thing I was given a room for the night. Many restaurants have private rooms with a toilet and are ideal for small private functions. It was there that I slept on my air mattress. I did accept a bowl of soup but not a substantial offer of cash, so large it shocked me, thanks but no thanks. We discussed my route and I planned to walk along the waterfront the next day but my host suggested that was a bad idea as the roads were in a poor state. Whereas I listen to local advice I don't always take it for 'bad road' for a motorist can be a small discomfort for them and pretty minor for me. I pay particular attention when it's suggested that I should walk an extra twenty kilometres for a more comfortable walk! It may seem illogical to some readers that what seems like an endless walk that I should care about such a distance! Well, sometimes I just want to get to my daily destination quicker. It's a bit like.... As much some runners love running marathons, well most of them are glad to see the finish line and wouldn't relish another twenty kilometres.
Setting out the following morning I zoomed in on my map and walked a couple of kilometres along the waterfront. Then I noticed some back roads that took me through a couple of small townships which eventually led to the parallel S306 highway and away from the so-called bad road. I was away in a hack as we would say in Ireland. That was another steady walking day and once again it was into a headwind with so much smog from thrash fires and road construction dust. That night I made it to a nice hotel in a large town called Huangshi which I was able to find with the guidance of a kind soul, bless him. 
Then another 31-kilometre day. It was December 9th and the second anniversary of my brother Brian who died when I was walking here in China.
(China Part one)  two years since I reached the Great Wall of China and I remembered one of the last things he asked me before I started the walk would be if I was going to walk past it. I don't think he saw the picture as his usual cheerful comment was missing. RIP bro. 💚🌷🍀

I'm sure it's getting boring folks, another grocery store veranda to sleep on with little else on the highway. The less daily distance one covers the fewer possibilities one has, be it for food, water or shelter. To me life is so easy, so simple for the 160-kilometre-a-day cyclist with all their possibilities, and so many cyclists say they have it tough, lol 😂
I followed that up with a pleasant 26-kilometre day with most of it walking on backroads. I walked through valleys and along some nice pathways. However, that pleasure was disturbed by the occasional charging vehicle breaking my meditative state of mind. There have been many places in China when I felt I was in somewhere like in County Wicklow, picturesque Sally Gap in Ireland. Instead of the blanket of bog set amidst spectacular views here I often came across rice paddy fields in pristine picture postcard valleys. There have been many days in such locations when I rounded a bend that I walked towards what would be called a city elsewhere, here in China where numbers always astonish they are called villages on my map. We are talking about residential areas in the middle of nowhere, just like the aforementikmentioned Sally Gap and often there are as many as forty or fifty high rise buildings, please see photo and video.

I continued making my way towards a peninsula of islands all interconnected by bridges. Although with the help of my friend Benjamin in Berlin we had done my research for the ferry to Taiwan. Nevertheless, I was becoming a bit concerned when a couple of people said there was no ferry service from Pingtan Island to Taiwan. Did we have old information of a now-defunct service I wondered. If so it would be a few wasted days. Well, walking around this beautiful area is not really a waste... But as I said before that sometimes one may want to get there quicker. 
With all this in mind, I made a fortunate stop at a store near Dongzhu where a man called Qun Chen worked. He speaks a little English and kindly called his brother Hank on Skype in Australia. Hank who speaks really pretty good English works in Sydney as a painter and offered great help with some further route advice and indeed confirmed that my research is accurate. ... And then as a kind afterthought, the two brothers sorted out a bed for me in their father's office for that night! A little later Qun Chen came by with a kettle, coffee, water and even cans of beer! Lately, I have been paying back such hospitality to less fortunate that I meet on the road. 
 Here I was in a small industrial estate. Being remote I started some catching up on my writings and had a pleasant evening blasting my Spotify music. 
I'm meeting the most amazing people.
26,963 kilometres of  bliss in 782 wonderful road days. It may take me a couple of days longer than expected to reach Taiwan island as the roads in this part (near the East China Sea) are not great and other issues regarding the ferry timetable etc. I plan to take that ferry from Pingtan island, perhaps Thursday, but I'm not pushed or on a schedule, whatever happens, will happen for a good reason 😂
Please remember that early cancer screening saves lives.

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