July 23rd – 153km – Zhuanghe, Liaoning to Dandong, Liaoning
Still raining this morning unfortunately. We didn’t want to stick around and get behind schedule, especially now that we had a deadline to get to Harbin where we had things being shipped to us, but we also didn’t want to push ourselves too much in the rain. In the end we compromised and aimed for Dandong today, 150km away.
The riding in the rain wasn’t actually too bad especially since the road conditions were much better (no construction!). I kept an even 80km/h most of the way except to slow down when we passed through villages as I braced for scooters turning into traffic and pedestrians looking the wrong way as they crossed. The only part that made me really nervous was in the last 50km of the day when visibility went way down. I started to see blobs in the distant shrouds of mist and rain that would all of a sudden turn into massive trucks only about 50 meters ahead of me.
We drove into Dandong around half past 12 and got turned away by a couple hotels that couldn’t register foreigners before finding another Home Inns (the same hotel chain we stayed at the previous night in Zhuanghe). The driving in Dandong was pretty insane though. As soon as we entered city limits, it was chaos. Nobody stayed in their lanes, some of the major intersections had no lights or signage at all, and there were huge construction pits as big as a city block that had absolutely no signs as to how to get around them.
Luckily in the end though we made it safe and sound to our hotel. Best of all we had a full half day to catch up on posts and dry out all of our stuff. Tomorrow hopefully the rain will calm down a bit and we can catch a view of the North Korean border in the morning before moving on north towards Harbin!