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November 20th 2006
Published: November 20th 2006
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"Okay if we camp here"?"Okay if we camp here"?"Okay if we camp here"?

We're beginning to discover that every bit of land is used here and it's increasingly difficult to find a place to pitch six tents!
Day 171, 18th November

Baoding - Ding Zhou

It was a real battle of the arses last night between Toby and Scott. After eating something dodgy their guts were competing for the “Best Pebble-Dashing” award. Although Scott excelled in the amount of times he dashed to the bog, the award had to go to Toby who single-arsedly destroyed the toilet in a way I can’t really imagine. The was just a pile of bricks left! Despite this behaviour, we were invited for breakfast by our host before we left with dry tents. I believe reparations were made to the home-owner for the toilet.

Our route continued south-westerly along the 107 through the big city of Baoding. The pollution was heavy and the roads were busy too. The weather was noticibly warmer, almost warm enough to wear shorts. Insects were on the increase too, and the fields and trees were becoming greener.

There were two accidents today: The first at a tollgate where Nick collided with a bollard and went arse over tit. The bollard was bent to a 45 degree angle by the force of Nick’s impact, but he was fine. However, Stephane crashed into the fallen
Baoding CityBaoding CityBaoding City

Typical Chinese city street scene. At the end of this Baoding street is the temple in the centre of the city.
Nick and somersaulted over the top of him! The next accident Scott caught the back of my bike by mistake and lost control, and fell to the ground. Stephane, once again, crashed into the fallen Scott and somersaulted over the top of him! No one was hurt badly, only a few bruises here and there. We used our idea of a late café stop for dinner instead of cooking, then hurriedly found a camping spot in a cultivated field as the sun set, trying to avoid being seen by the hundreds of Chinese people around us. There must have been a festival or something on because we could hear fireworks till late.

Total Miles: 8349.72 Todays Miles: 55.54 Average speed: 13.1 Time on bike: 4:13

Day 172, 19th November

Ding Zhou - Shijiazhuang - Dou Yu

Nick woke us up in the middle of the night with an almighty “Oh my God guys, you’d better get out of your tents and take a look at this”. Expecting to be surrounded by angry villagers with pitchforks, the People’s Army, or something worse, we nervously crawled out of our tents only to witness the most amazing meteorite
Chinese DoshChinese DoshChinese Dosh

The money of China with uplifting pictures of happy workers that, by the way, don't look that Chinese?
shower, ever! Hundreds of meteorites per minute were shooting over our heads at high speeds and disappearing over the horizon. Some parallel to each other. You expected a flash of light as they hit the ground, but there was none. The thought struck me that every meteorite that I saw had been traveling across space, probably before human life had begun on Earth, and that I was so privileged to see the death of each one of these as they burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere. It was 2 hours of the most awesome spectacle witnessed from nature.

At 6.30 Stephane woke us up, it was still dark. We packed up and were off to get a sunrise breakfast. Our road carried on south-westerly to the big city of Shijiazhuang which was very busy and extremely smoggy. Passing through it was amazing, though. There were thousands of bikes, rickshaws, and other assorted vehicles weaving insanely through the packed streets. It all seems to work and things move along well, without traffic lights to hinder the progress.

One trick we learned on the road was to get behind one of the many loaded three-wheeler trucks traveling at a steady
Overloaded or What!Overloaded or What!Overloaded or What!

There's a tractor under there somewhere - Honestly!
20 mph, and follow its slipstream. A pitfall of this is that you don’t see the potholes in the road till it’s too late - bang! Ping! There goes a spoke… At the end of the day we tried to find a hotel with no luck, so we ended up off road looking around a village for a place to camp. We asked a villager if we could camp in a fallow patch of field, and got the thumbs up. Shortly afterwards the whole village turned up to see the foreigners in their midst. Most were kids who were fascinated by us and our pointy faces which they wanted to inspect. This activity carried on till way after the sun went down, people popping by from the village to say “Hello” to the strange foreign types in their field.

Total Miles: 8418.76 Todays Miles: 69.04 Average speed: 13.0 Time on bike: 5:19


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