Today’s distance / ???????: 38 miles / 62km
Average speed / ????: 9.6mph / 15.5km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 3h 58m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 4406mi plus 280mi (?) / 7092km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: 275m
Descent / ??: 325m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: n/a
Check out this blog post by Marija Kozin. In it she briefly but succinctly describes why she travels. This is also exactly why I travel, and why big dirty cities like Kuitun are a pain the butt.
While traveling in the manner that I am at the moment, cities are a neccessary evil. Today it was to visit an internet cafe and get some grease for the problematic bearings on Rig’s trailer.
Rig was dwarfed by his motorised counterparts, but the humans servicing the big rigs were friendly.
“Where are you coming from?” a young mechanic asked. I gave the standard answer of “From Korgos.” I don’t even attempt to explain anything prior to that.
The mechanics left me mostly to myself to take the wheels and bearings apart, all the time grouped around me throwing the occassional question my way.
“How far do you go in one day?”
“The road near Gotsugu was bad, wasn’t it?”
“What about going uphill? You can still push?”
“You have any brakes on that thing?”
“What’s in the bag?”
“Where do you sleep?”
“How long do the wheels last?”
I got the bearings out and cleaned them in some dirty, gritty petrol the mechanics gave me. Great, I thought, more grit to add to them.
They had an air compressor in the workshop, so I used that to try to clean them out some more. I got them as clean as I would ever get them where dust and grit were just part of the environment, and packed them with industrial grease.
I don’t reccommend getting a gearbox rehaul here by the way. Various bearings, cogs and gears that had just been washed with the same gritty petrol were sitting in the dust awaiting re-installation. Ugh.
Usually I would use Bones Bearing’s special Speed Cream to lube Rig’s bearings. This stuff is fine in the Bones Bearings I am using on the board, but the trailer’s bearings are not as good at sealing the water and gti out, so I think grease should help with keeping then clean and rolling.
I rolled the remaining 4km into town, hands dirty, butt dirty from sitting on the dirty oily seat at the mechanic’s shop. Lunch was chopped noodles. The same taste. Just the noodles look different. Same noodles, just prepared differently. Apparently this is all people eat when they go out for a quick meal here.
This is very tasty the first two or three times in a row. After that it gets a little repetitive.
After lunch, straight to the wangba (internet cafe). They are everywhere in big cities. What was supposed to be a quick update became a long update, and before long it was late. When I left the internet cafe dark clouds were rolling in. No time for getting out of the city to camp. This time I went straight to the police. If they have their crazy rules about foreigner hotels, then they can take me to each one until we find one cheap enough for me to stay in. And that’s exactly what they did.
The first hotel was mammoth. Huge. Opulent. Piano music playing in the lobby. I walk in with the police officer with dirty hands, dirty clothes. The room rate board displayed 750RMB (75 Euro) for a room. Do I look like someone who would pay that much for a room in China? I thought.
The best they could do was 120RMB (12 Euro). Nope. Too expensive. Especially when other non-foreigner approved hotels were 30RMB. The police officer was no doubt wondering why I didn’t just cough it up.
The second place was 80RMB. Still rediculous and frustrating considering the discrepancy between prices in hotels here in China. But the police officer was obviously getting annoyed, so I accepted.
Funny, I thought. I managed to survive through Europe on 3.50 Euro a day, and in China so far I have spent on average at least twice that.