Days 133-135; Nov. 28th-30th; Hangzhou, Zhejiang – Shanghai; 29,537km-29,771km
Up early in our hotel in Hangzhou. We had a presentation to give in a couple hours at the factory, and it was to be all in Chinese. Only got about half way through though before it was time to go.
It was a really nice event that CFMoto had prepared for us. One of the heads of the company had gone up to talk a bit about us and our trip before we were introduced and we came up on stage in front of a couple hundred of the CFMoto employees. We went through our routine talking about our trip thus far, including mentioning that we had happened to surpass the current world record while in the home province of the motorcycle. I even managed to land a couple jokes in Chinese during the presentation! After we wrapped up, a representative from Free Lunch for Children came up to talk a bit about the charity after which they put a donation box on stage and all the employees and managers came through to donate. Overall it was a huge success, raising a little over ¥9,000 for the charity in our short time there.
We had lunch in the staff cafeteria with some of the managers and then hung around a bit while we waited for the three bikes (remember we came in with two other CFMoto riders, Jon and Bikerdoc) to finish their servicing. No time to hang around Hangzhou another day though, today was Thanksgiving and we had planned to rush across to Shanghai that very same day, one of the few cities in China where you can expect to find western themed restaurants that will serve a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving!
On To Shanghai
We didn’t manage to get on the road though until about 3:30, and with the sun setting earlier and earlier that didn’t leave us much time to beat the sun. But I had a thanksgiving to get to! So we snuck our way onto the expressway, passed a yelling guard and onto the windy highway. There were several tolls on the way but we didn’t have any problems. The worst part was actually the cold which cut through our gear at the high speeds.
We had about an hour of navigating Shanghai city traffic (not fun) before arriving at our destination, Amy’s dad and youngest brothers apartment! We had gotten in just in time to drop our stuff off, park the bike, and go with Amy’s brother Tristan to meet their dad who was waiting for us in a cab in front of the complex.
Thanksgiving In The Big City
Though I have been known to be stubborn, and traditions are important for me, the fact that we ended up in Shanghai just in time for Thanksgiving was pure coincidence. A look at the calendar only a few days prior showed that the timing was going to line up perfectly so we called ahead to Amy’s dad who knew a place that was having a thanksgiving special. I was the only American in our dinner group but Amy had been converted to the joys of Thanksgiving dinner in the past couple year since we started going out so it was just the two of us that indulged in the All-American tradition. Over four months on the road in China now with dinners primarily made up of noodles, eggplants, and unidentifiable animal parts, it was hard not to savor the turkey, cranberry sauce, wine, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast vegetables, and pumpkin pie. Food coma duly ensued back at the apartment.
The next two days we took what would be our final days off of the trip in Shanghai. The first was hardly restful though as we had one more presentation to give, this time in front of the staff of the insurance company that Amy’s dad worked at in Shanghai. This presentation, also in Chinese but a little less formal also went really well as the crowd seemed to be engaged and really interested in our trip. Their staff club offered to donate over ¥8,000 from their charity fund to Free Lunch and the company was going to start looking into supporting a whole school for up to a year!
Some Time To Reflect
The next day was much more restful. It was a bit strange actually being in Shanghai. We still had another 2 weeks and 3,000km or so of the trip left but it was really starting to feel like it was almost over. Shanghai, even more so than Beijing (the final destination of our trip), is extremely cosmopolitan, providing access to many of the comforts we are used to back home in the west. Amy even made a dinner for the whole family on our final night, a strange, domestic contrast to the vagrant lives we’d been living thus far.
We also met up with a good friend of ours while in Shanghai. We had met Laolao at 3 corners of our trip now. We first met this Shanghai local in Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia where he had ridden up on his little 50cc scooter. Later we met him again at the Turpan Depression (right before getting caught in the sandstorm). This time, we were in Shanghai, Laolao’s trip already a month over and ours entering into the final couple of weeks.
It really was coming full circle now though. First our visit to the Hangzhou factory and now our stop in Shanghai. A little over a year ago, in October 2012, Amy and I were doing our most challenging China motorcycle trip to date, 3,300km from Beijing to Shanghai and back. Now we were in the midst of finishing a trip 10x as long and what was once the daunting return trip back to Beijing was only the tail end of this one.
No time to be complacent though! 3k kilometers and 5 more provinces ain’t nothing to sneeze at, particularly with the days getting shorter and shorter and the temperatures up north consistently reaching freezing now.