Day 12. Xingtai to Jinan
Getting on a bus was perhaps a welcoming change considering last night's events. But to be stuck in an enclosed box for 7 hours, isn't anyone's idea of fun.
After last night we were perhaps a bit relieved that we'll be
jumping on a bus today which would put us into Jinan. The
trip was long, around 7 hours with a short stop half way between
the two towns and we covered around 360km (at least according to
the map). We found ourselves stuck in tiny seats, on a bus
which was constantly playing some Chinese film with speakers
blearing so loudly not even my noise isolating ear buds could
filter it out.
[On the bus]
The bus screamed down packed freeways, narrowly missing
countless other vehicles as we desperately tried to see out the
filthy windows for some sort of stimulation. The short stop
was a welcome interlude where we were allowed to have a quick hot
meal, the obligatory toilet break and breathe some fresh air.
Since there wasn't enough room on one bus for all our bikes, we
decided to all stick together with two bikes with us on the first
bus and the remaining bicycles on the second bus one hour
later. Of course, on the other side you only hope that the
bikes arrive in one piece or that someone hasn't taken a key piece
for their spares collection.
Some of the boys left the bus station to check for nearby hotels
while Dave and I stayed behind on bus spotting duty. As per
the schedule, one hour later the bus arrived and one of the
conductors came up to us pointing at the bus which contained the
bikes. By that stage Alex had already gotten oriented and
found a decent hotel a short trip by bicycle. We were kindly
guided there by the receptionist from another hotel we had enquired
[Our guide to the hotel in Jinan]
Jinan is quite a well-kept city, with wide streets lined by
large green trees - if it wasn't for the major road works it quite
possibly could have been one of the better cities we have
seen. Certainly a far cry from the smog and pollution we'd
breathed in Yixian.
That night we went out to a night market where we ate fantastic
noodle dishes washed down by pints of beer poured out of large
portable kegs just under the kitchen stove.
[Dinner on the street]
On the way back our curiosity got the better of us all.
Having seen an open shop which sells these battery powered
scooters, we all decided to pop in and have a closer look.
First thing's first, let's really check them out - we pulled the
battery packs apart to understand the mechanics, picked up the
scooters to feel the weight and read various user manuals (in
Chinese of course) to brush up on the technical specifications of
No trip to a "boys toys" shop would be complete without each and
every one of us hopping on and cranking the baby over. So on
the congested and tightly packed shopfloor we experienced firsthand
the power and agility these small contraptions pump out.
[Boys Toys - These electric bikes were fun]
As with most DC motors, the highest level of torque is
experienced just after the motor starts to turn, with a gradual
decline as you reach full operating speed; completely opposite what
we would be used to in a motorcycle, car or any other vehicle
fitted with a combustion engine. For this reason a couple of
us weren't prepared for the initial "kick" the scooters exhibited,
almost throwing us off like a raging bull - we narrowly missed
toppling over the neatly arranged scooters like dominos. What