Days 110-112; Nov. 5th-7th; Xuwen, Guangdong – Maoming, GD – Wuzhou, Guangxi; 23,867km-24,378km
Time to start making our way back inland again. Our next stop was to make it into Guangxi in time for an event with our charity partner Free Lunch for Children. We had about 500km or so until our meeting point in Wuzhou. From there we would be driving out on the 8th of November together into the nearby mountains to visit the school. This gave us 3 days to do 500km, which meant that unless we ran into any serious problems, we could take a day off in Wuzhou while we waited for people to arrive.
Back Up The Peninsula
First the 500km though! We got a bit of a late start out of Xuwen, the port town where the ferry to/from Hainan is. We had hoped to be able to enjoy another amazing Guangdong breakfast at the nearby restaurant, but unfortunately they were closed that morning for some reason. We spent the rest of the morning getting some errands done that we hadn’t had time to do in Sanya, namely laundry, post office run, and catching up on emails and posts. By the afternoon we were on the road making our way back up the peninsula, this time on the less quick National Road. Luckily no serious road construction so we made good time to Maoming.
We were definitely back in mainland China now though. 20-30km from the city we hit some major traffic jams. The congestion was intense, no doubt exaggerated by the rush hour traffic. After about 30 minutes to an hour of navigating through the bikes, cars, scooters, and pedestrians, we found a hotel to stay at for the night.
The next day to Wuzhou was much the same as before, without much of note happening though we did enjoy our first stretches of scenic mountain roads in a little over week. The section where the G207 crossed over into Guangxi province was particularly nice with the smooth pavement easing the way around the mountain bends and through the low passes.
More chores to get done during our day off in Wuzhou waiting for the charity team to arrive. I won’t bore you too much with the details but we did take the opportunity to take some of our broken bags and clothing to a tailor to get things patched up. We also watched some TV shows on our computer. Hey, we’re allowed a break too once in a while!
The Riding Buildings of Wuzhou
At night, we met up with the two Free Lunch for Children volunteers and the small team of photographers they had invited, which included one very tall Swede who was visiting and working with the photographers for a couple months in nearby Nanning. We all went out for dinner and then one of the volunteers, Jianing, who had grown up in Wuzhou took us for a mini-tour.
We went to one of the shopping areas that had some European styled architecture. One very unique thing about the building was that the first floors all had high ceilings with the second floors and above up on pillars and jutting out leaving a covered walkway for the first floor shops. This design is how the buildings got their names 骑楼 or “Riding Buildings” because of how the buildings seem to be “riding” on the stilts.
Jianing then pointed out to us how on the ceilings of the covered walkways there was a bar running the full circumference of the buildings. We could not guess what these might be for and then she explained how for two months out of each year in May and June, the nearby confluence of three rivers would flood the whole area as high as up as to the top of the pillars. The bar was thus a way for boats to attach and secure themselves to the buildings allowing people on the second floors to get in and out of their homes. The implications of this are pretty mind-blowing. Could you imagine that as just a matter of routine now, the whole city has to shut down for two months out of the year. With buildings and shops fully submerged in water, there’s not much that you would be able to accomplish under such conditions.
We finished off the night with some local snacks which included snails (田螺）and little jelly like sweets. Time to rest up before making our way the next morning to the local school where we would be able to meet some of the kids that benefited from the Free Lunch for Children program.