Biking through Chinese villages

Right after our arrival to Guilin we rented bikes and we went to explore surrounding Chinese villages. It started to be interesting already in the bike rental because nobody spoke English there. We only had to use body language. We arranged everything well after all and our first bike trip in China could start. The town was a little bit bigger than we expected. It was rather typical Chinese village with almost one million inhabitants. On big crossroads there were special roofs for two-tire riders which were separating them from the cars. At the same time they were protecting people against the sun while waiting for traffic lights. What we didn’t like the most was the pollution from the traffic and dust from construction areas because they always build something in China. “We finally found our way out of the city!” We were happy to escape the smog and mixture of cars, mopeds, scooters and some other strange vehicles.

After a while there were less cars on the roads and rice fields and old houses of local villagers started to appear. We were observing farmers that were pushing wooden carts with rice bags. In the village they were drying the rice everywhere where they could find at least a piece of flat concrete place. The rice was spread out in front of their houses or on basket court. Those who were not drying the rice were participating on construction of new road. We thought we can get to 30 km distant historical village Jiangtouzhou but because of bad condition of the roads and also our bikes we have done only 20 km in 4 hours. We finally ended up in a completely different village. We were starving and so we went to look for some rice or noodles. 

“Come to eat to my place!” a man was waving to us standing behind some dirty looking pots on the street. After the first couple of words he found out he wasn’t able to tell us much and so he took the initiative to his hands and started to prepare some food. In a few minutes we had two delicious dishes in front of us. They were full of meat and fresh vegetables. We didn’t withdraw much money so we were not really sure if we had enough money to pay. The man wrote number 302 on a piece of paper. “He can’t possibly want 30 EUR for two meals here in this garage!” We decided we could give him 100 Yuans at maximu. However we didn’t even have this amount and Karel went to withdraw some money from local ATM. He wasn´t successful because the ATM was only accepting Chinese 6 digit PIN code. Fortunately he found there one young Chinese girl who was able to speak some English. They went together to solve the mystery of how much money he wanted for the lunch. The girl went to speak to the man. After a brief conversation she told us it actually costs only 30 Yuans. “Yohooo! We can pay!” Later on we found out that he was writing number 30 and a sign for Yuan that looked like number 2 to us. We already thought that he only wanted to get money from us when he saw tourists but in reality he was very kind and hospitable. It was probably our best food in China. We said goodbye and had to back on our bikes.

We didn’t want to come back through all the villages and rough roads because it was already late afternoon. Thus we decided to ride back to Guilin on the main road. Our bikes were really in bad condition. Our front brakes didn’t work and we also couldn’t change the gear normally. Because of that we were again very slow and it finally got dark. We of course didn’t have any light and moreover we started to be very tired. It was more than 15 km to our hostel so we decided to hitchhike even with our bikes. We asked some young guys that were unloading goods from their van. They didn’t want to give us a lift but at least they showed us the right way back to Guilin. With the idea of riding the bikes for more hours in the smog of the city we continued in our way when suddenly a car stopped next to us. “Guilin, Guilin!” shouted the same guy we met a while ago. The nice guy named “Chong Hai Chang” was probably sorry for us and changed his mind. We put the bikes into his van and he drove us all the way back. It was quite far because it took about 45 minutes even by car and we were glad we didn’t have to ride the bikes through the polluted city. We returned the bikes and came back to our hostel where we fell asleep right away. Let’s see if biking will be easier in Yangshuo that is supposed to be a bit smaller and calmer place. Before heading to Yangshuo we are making a trip to famous Dragon’s Back Rice Terraces. It’s about 3 hours far from Guilin and we are going to get there by public buses. Hopefully we won’t get lost!


Copyright © 2014 | | Karel Stepanek |