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Day 12. Xingtai to Jinan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 permalink [Permalink]

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
[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.

Toilet Break
[Toilet Break]

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 about availability.

Our guide to the hotel in Jinan
[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.

Friendly Shandong
[Friendly Shandong]

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
[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 the machine.

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
[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 fun :)

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