Week 5: Tianshui to Lanzhou, 289km
Some well needed rest.
I left Tianshui early on and headed up into the beautifully landscaped terraces in the mountains of Gansu. As I gained elevation, it started to become much less humid, which made it a lot more comfortable to put the hours in the saddle. There were much fewer villages and towns along the road. I would only pass a little farm house or a truck stop every 20km or so. This was also my introduction into tunnels on the mountain roads. Some of them are 2km long with no hard shoulder and very little light. The noise of trucks coming up behind you is deafening. I had my lights on and my high vis t-shirt, so trucks had no problems spotting me. They always made sure to leave plenty of room when passing, so I felt safe, but still a bit scary! By the end of the day, I pulled into a little town called Tongwei and found a hotel. There wasn’t much there—a few restaurants and a couple shops, but it done me for the night.
The next day, I continued along the same road. The landscape was much the same, absolutely breathtaking. I only had about 80km to go to reach the next city of Dingxi, and managed to make good time through the mountains.
At Dingxi, I found another foreign-friendly hotel, checked into my room, chucked my clothes into the sink, and was about to jump in the shower when I heard a knock at my door. I answered it to see the guy that was in line behind me at the reception. He told me he was also here by himself for work and wondered if I wanted to grab dinner with him. I found his offer kind of weird, and wasn’t sure what to do, so told him I needed to take a shower and wash my clothes. He simply responded with, “No problem. I’ll wait in reception!”
That settled it then. The man, Mr. Wang, took me to a very nice local restaurant and ordered a massive plate of fried meat and veggies. It was actually nice to be able to eat with someone; there’s certain dishes that are just meant for sharing that I would never be able to eat by myself. We played the game over who would pay for the bill, and this time I lost. Mr. Wang was quite persistent. Afterwards, we went to a fruit shop and he bought a massive bag of fruit which again I was not allowed to pay for. He gave the fruit to me and said we could split it tomorrow at breakfast, so I prepared a little hongbao and half the fruit bag to give him for being so generous, but I’ve never seen him again!
From Dingxi, I was heading to the capital of Gansu Province, Lanzhou. I picked up a couple of big round loaves of bread for the journey and set out. I had a couple of small climbs through the terraced farms which I discovered were mainly for growing pepper. After that was simply a nice long descent into Lanzhou.
I passed through these big gates on the way down and enjoyed an easy ride into the city. When I arrived at my hotel I decided to order a pizza. I’d been eating nothing but Chinese food for ages and was craving some variety. I ordered the biggest pizza I could find and was excited for its delivery. 40 minutes later, eight pizza boxes turned up at my door! It was one of these massive pizza pies so it turned out there were only two slices in each box. But it was still a feast that done me for the night.
I took the day off to rest, catch up on blog writing ,and video editing as well as work my way through the rest of The Pizza.