August 17th; 194km; Yinchuan, NX to Zhongwei, NX
Not really what we wanted more of but we were stuck in Yinchuan most of today too. We had ordered a new action camera a few days back to replace our broken GoPro that we had sent back to Beijing, a new Drift Ghost. The problem though was that because it had a battery it had to be shipped by land rather than air and so was taking longer than expected.
By about 2:30 the battery had finally arrived though and after unboxing, testing, and setting it up on my helmet, by almost 4 we were ready to go again!
A Chinese Funeral
Though we weren’t able to go very far today we happened to have a really great experience today about 60km from our destination. We were driving through a village when on my right side I noticed what was a very ornate ceremony going on outside of a house and along the street. I quickly pulled over to take a look. There were colorfully decorated what looked like umbrellas piled up near the center as several people were lined up on the road kneeling down and burning piles of paper. The whole while there was this very beautiful music being played with some sort of wind instrument that had a hint of middle eastern influence, almost like what I imagine a snake charmer’s flute sounds like.
After closer observation, it became clear we had stumbled on a funeral. There was a photograph of an older man up above the entrance of the house and underneath was what must have been his coffin. One of the ladies burning paper on the side of the road had her head to the ground, kowtowing slightly and sobbing as the paper burned off in front of her.
We thought it might be rude to stick around any longer but just as we were packing up to go one guy from the group walked over and out if nowhere (before any questions of where we were from or how much our bike cost) asked us to join them for dinner!
He led us around the back of the house where it seemed most of the procession had gone where we found a large makeshift tent setup with dozens of people sitting around small tables for dinner. We set down at a table they brought out for us where they set a giant cauldron like bowl of some kind of soup in front of us that they said was a local specialty. At first we were nervous that it might have been sheep entrails again but our friend said it was called something that sounded like fen tao. Indeed, in the soup was no meat at all but something that looked like tofu, with a bunch of seasonings. They served it with a giant plate of different kinds of freshly made bread as well as a bowl of a cold meat dish. The whole meal was really delicious making the constant encouragement by our hosts (we had about 4-5 other people at our table) to continue eating unnecessary.
The only problem with this experience was that this long stopover meant we would be night driving, something not too desirable on China roads. It got dark with about 30-40km left until our destination. The drive itself luckily wasn’t too bad however one very annoying thing about Chinese drivers is that at night they ALL drive with their high beams on. I don’t understand how anyone can drive while being constantly blinded, but for some reason everyone insists on having them on. Even when I would blink mine on and off and honk to get the oncoming traffic to turn theirs off, only a very few ever would and even most of those would turn them back on long before passing us!