Hello. This is Kevin’s sister Katrina. Since I am running his blog for the next couple months, I thought I’d have a bit of fun. Don’t worry Kev, I’ll try not to embarrass you too much. I am typing a quick addition to his latest entry because today, May 24, is Kev’s birthday. So Kev, HAPPY BIRTHDAY…..and I hope you are doing well. May you have a not-so-mysterious birthday meal without organs or appendages. And if the desserts there are anything like some in Japan, get yourself a birthday treat–something marzipan-ish stuffed with red bean paste and coated in sugar. Yum!
Good Luck and I love you!
Here is Kev….
My last night in Qingdao Sebastian, Sophia and I had a nice dinner above the city in a restaurant in this tower. I liked the design and colors at night.
Leaving Qingdao was a nightmare of blaring horns, bicycles, motor scooters, and pedestrians. People have no respect for signals and stop signs. It is total madness. I almost got bumped twice in the first hour. It was as chaotic as any South American city, but even more so in its own way. It borders on anarchy: people drive on the wrong side of road, turn in front of you, stop in the middle of the street to chat with someone. Insane.
As I pedaled through the suburbs I noticed what looked like beehives on the sidewalk. As I approached, bees started buzzing around me. Would you believe that within one of the largest cities in China there are hundreds of beehives right on the street? The beekeepers apparently live next to them in tents. I wanted to get a close up photo but was a bit unnerved by the thousands of bees all around me so I didn’t stop.
I had to cross this 4 mile long bridge on the way out of Qingdao, Shandong province.
Street sweeper, Chinese style.
My second day out it rained. There’s a lot of dirt by the roads, so this quickly becomes mud when it rains. Within minutes I was a muddy mess and stayed that way all day.
People are fascinated by me. First, because I travel in more remote areas, I think many people have never seen a non-Chinese person in the flesh. And one on a touring bike is even more bizarre. Many people are probably not even aware of the concept of long distance bike touring. So they are extremely curious. When I stop my bike, within seconds a crowd has gathered. Some people just stare, others jabber away in Chinese. I pick up about 1%. In shops everyone stops and stares and people begin to whisper among themselves. Some younger kids say ‘hello’ but that seems to be the extent of their vocabulary. The sales clerks follow me around the store, watching me.
In internet cafes people walk by and look over my shoulder to see what I am doing. In fact, as I write this the guy net to me is peering over every now and then to see what I am writing. Which is OK except he is smoking, like several others in the place, making it a hazy den of burnt tobacco. At least he was generous enough to offer me one.
I feel like one of those celebrities who are hounded by fans all the time. I am beginning to really dislike it.
Anyway, here are a couple kids who wanted a photo with me one day where I stopped for lunch.
One of the biggest contrasts between Japan and China has to be their approach to hygiene. If the Japanese are fastidiously clean the Chinese are the opposite. Everything is pretty filthy here. Even compared to South America, the garbage, sewage, dirt and filth are pervasive. Creeks and pools of water reek of sewage and chemicals. And the public restrooms must be as close to hell as I have ever been. If you have the stomach for it take a look at this gas station restroom. Warning–it is graphic. The troughs drain directly outside to an open culvert and the waste gets washed away somewhere. I shudder to think where. The stench was overwhelming.
As far as roads, the main ones have wide shoulders but are very noisy sometimes. Other times they are almost empty. There didn’t seem to be much thought into constructing them. Here is a shoulder on one road that is actually wider than the road itself. But it is used by lots of motos, tractors, etc.
I got off the main roads a few times and got on some nice ones,
But that road later disappeared and became this single track path for a while.