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Day 5. Beijing to Fangshan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 permalink [Permalink]

Having spent enough time in Beijing to get a good feel for the city's layout, we cycled to the city of Fangshan, some 81km away.

We only had two missions to execute this morning.  Firstly, to pickup Dave's glasses which we were told would be ready this morning, and secondly to get out of Beijing and hit the road out of the big smoke.

Just as promised, the glasses were ready and waiting for Dave when we arrived at the optician - although somehow lost in the translation he was under the impression that he'd paid for two pairs, not one.

How many pairs of glasses Bill?
[How many pairs of glasses, Bill?]

No time to waste.  After stocking up on these multi-vitamin yoghurt drinks we set off.

It took us almost an hour to get to the south-west edge of Beijing, but eventually we made it to the G107.

Once out of the city, away from the traffic and off the main roads the cycling and our morale improved immediately.  We were back on the road - a continuation of our fascinating romance with seeing the world on two wheels.  Although the road was uneventful in terms of scenery, we did spot a number of old stone bridges and some pagodas.

Fangshan Road
[Fangshan Road]

Eventually we arrived in Fangshan but finding accommodation proved more difficult than we anticipated.  It was here that we were introduced to the word Bingwa.  Everyone we asked for the direction to the nearest bingwa seemed to share a different opinion of which direction we should take.

Curious Bike Lovers
[Curious Bike Lovers]

Eventually we were given some directions on the outskirts of Fangshan.  Armed with a hand drawn map, even this proved to be problematic.  Eventually I approached a policeman and showed him the map along with the Chinese characters which we assumed was the name of the hotel.  The police officer pointed in the direction of the hotel.  Not very helpful I thought.  Instead, I pointed to his electric scooter and mimicked him riding on top - he caught onto what I was doing and eventually gave us an escort on his electric scooter.

Asking for directions
[Asking for directions]

It would appear that Chinese hotels like to give you a thermos filled with hot water, the obligatory snacks as well as two packs of instant noodles.  Great idea I think - particularly after a long day on the bike.  The hotel rooms also come with free toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair combs and some other "pay as you use" items.  The rooms weren't the best, but you can't complain about the price, 120 Yuan per room (about EUR 12).

After hanging up our washing, Dave and I relaxed while reading a book up on the roof before dinner.

Relaxing with our washing on the Fangshan Hotel roof
[Relaxing with our washing on the Fangshan Hotel roof]

I must say that Fangshan is a rather surreal city - most probably built for the sole reason of supporting the petroleum refining company on the city fringes, if bears the marks of something out of a futuristic movie.  At night the streets are lit by neon lights, house size television screens broadcast local TV stations including the audio to anyone who cares to listen and the people move about as if a euphoric agent had been released into the water supply.

Fangshan by night
[Fangshan by night]

Strangely, it appeared as if the euphoria was contagious - we were quite content to sit down at a local outdoor eatery and partake in the evening's culinary ecstasy.

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