Days 102-104; Oct. 28th-30th; Anshun, GZ-Jiuzhou, Guangxi-Nanning, GX-Xuwen, Guangdong; 21,968km-23,067km
So we had made our dip into Guizhou province and now it was time to start planning our way out and back towards the coast. We had a couple options including expressway continuing towards Guiyang or backtracking on smaller roads. We decided to take a risk and cut through the mountains we had been paralleling the day before on the S201 and hope the road conditions were good.
The Mists and Mountains of Guizhou
In fact the roads were in great condition and the scenery was beautiful. The rain, while a nuisance for our comfort, accentuated the feeling of tranquil seclusion in the mountain roads as we passed through small villages and along rice paddies being worked by the locals. We found an abandoned scenic spot to stop at for lunch. I explored the foggy pathways sitting above the gutted admin building for a bit before munching on some Oreos, Chinese pastries, and an apple.
After cutting through the mountains we were back on a highway. We may have been on a more developed road but the mountains are still everywhere here and the road became covered in an extremely dense fog. So dense that I had to slow down to about 60km/h/40mph still barely able to see the taillights of the pickup truck I was tailing a couple of car lengths ahead.
We passed into our next province, Guangxi, while on the expressway but unfortunately they weren’t as open to letting motorcycles on the highway here. Though our new strategy of speaking in Chinese and explaining that a police officer had let us on earlier because it was safer worked to get us past the border toll, there was a police checkpoint farther down that wouldn’t let us stay on. Luckily no escort off and it was almost the end of the day so we stayed on for another 20 minutes or so and stopped for the night in a small, one-street mountain town.
The morning out of Jiuzhou, the mountain town, it was still raining. We still had to make our way out of the mountains and closer to the coast, which is how we spent the first half of the day. Then, the area we were driving through got noticeably more tropical. The rain stopped and the temperature was warming rapidly. Happily out of our rain gear now, we were passing by palm trees and through banana plantations now. You could practically smell the sea.
Lack Of Support
Fate as it would have it was not about to give us the easy win though. We had been luckily enough to get more or less good roads up to that point, which was good for our cracked luggage rack, but we were hitting some bumps unexpectedly now and then and one stretch of country road, a detour around a closed section of road. We were only about 40km away from the Nanning city center, our planned destination for the night when I started getting the warning raps on my side from Amy that meant something was wrong and I should pull over.
The bolts that were holding most of the weight of the luggage had now snapped cleanly through and our two large bags were just hanging off the back of the bike. I jumped off and held up the weight of the bags off the taillight while Amy and I quickly unstrapped everything.
Luckily, this had all happened at an intersection with a little town and of course this meant a couple of motorcycle repair shops. Everyone’s first reaction is always they don’t have the replacement part and they can’t fix bikes that big. But persistence in getting them to see what the problem is eventually made one shop owner actually take a look at the snapped rack. He said he couldn’t weld the aluminum but he knew someone who could help in the morning. So we relented, asked what time they opened, and went to find a place to stay. Not many 7 Days Inns in this little, out of the way “hamlet”, but the $12/night “hotel” would have to do for the night!
It’s really remarkable what you can get fixed in China. It doesn’t even seem to matter where something might breakdown, but there will always be someone right around the corner that will be able to help you fix it. That’s how it worked for us at least with our broken aluminum rack and snapped bolts. By noon we had the rack welded and reinforced with braces, strong and good as new, and the old bolts had been drilled out with new ones put in.
The Parting Of The Clouds
By noon everything was packed up, we grabbed a quick noodle lunch and then hit the road. Immediately we hit truck traffic, construction, and dusty, pothole-filled detours. Fed up, we turned off first chance we got and hopped on the expressway. Smooth sailing from then on east along the coast and then south down the peninsula towards the ferry to Hainan island. Palm trees, sun, warm weather. It was perfect. Just a couple days before we were cold and wet from rain. Now, we were jumping out of our riding gear at a gas stop and indulging in ice cream for a snack.
Driving through the sunset we made it to the town of Xuwen in Guangdong province (home to the Cantonese language/dialect and the popular Chinese style of eating Dim Sum). From here our next stop in the morning would be the nearby ferry sea-crossing to Haikou in province number 20, Hainan. On the other side of the island we would be staying in a five star, seaside hotel for a few days, the hotel management having expressed interest in supporting our partner charity and organizing some media and fundraising events for us during our stay. A dip in the sea was no doubt also on our own personal agenda though.