My goal for the day was Nanchang, in the South of Jiangsu province and just across the Yangtze river, a stone’s throw away from Shanghai. More shitty, dusty towns and lunch then rolled into Nanchang, trying to avoid massive flyovers. I was told that Nanchang does not permit motorcycles, so I decided to press on to Shanghai. I made it to the ferry port mid-afternoon after a bit of confusion with my sat nav and had a spirited conversation with the truckers waiting for the ferry.. oh yeah and a local simpleton who was way too familiar with me, playing with the throttle on my bike as he talked. Pissed me off until I realised he was harmless , he turned out to be pretty amusing, well made me laugh, the way he said “here’s the ferry, you see, that one over there, the one with the red car on it” pointing to the only moving ferry within sight, coming towards us out of the murky, grey and wide horizon. Again, I failed to film getting on and off the ferry because I’d selected the wrong setting. Only really found this when I’d gotten home and reviewed the footage… bummer
This day had more in store, and after losing the main road and going through the countryside north of Shanghai for some time, I came across the main road and a huge tailback. This was caused by the (re?) construction of the road and half of it being closed. Scarily tried to squeeze between the trucks and the concrete barrier and once almost got trapped by a truck that wasn’t watching for Bobs ( I remember my driving instructor years ago in Britain telling me to always check my mirrors in a car when changing lane and watch for Bobs- ‘Blokes on bikes’ 🙂
I didn’t want to get squashed by trucks
So I decided to save time and stay safe by jumping the queue, riding down the completed but closed half of the highway. The problem came when I got to the end and there was a big lip on the road in order to get from one surface up to the new one- about a foot. Now I said to myself that I can do this, but didn’t throttle it all the way up and was left with the front wheel on the upper surface and the back on the lower, legs dangling in space, so, inevitably, the bike went over. It pissed gas out of the top of the tank and I’d just felt like I’d lost energy at this point. I somehow stole myself and shouldered the bike up, twisting the left mirror lose. A farm lady helped push it up the slope!
The bike wouldn’t start after this and I asked the group of Laobaixing （老白姓） ‘old hundred names’ as the Chinese call them- the peasantry，to help push start the bike. Reminiscent of the first day in the dark in Beijing. This didn’t work and, as one of the chaps correctly diagnosed, the carburettor was flooded with fuel from the spill. I fished a screwdriver out of the toolkit and he opened up the valve at the bottom and bled the carburettor, the gas seeping out. After this, the biked started fine and I wheeled around and off down the road having shaken their hands with a grin.
One last thing awaited me ..entering Shanghai( I had a very late dinner which later upset my stomach – first dodgy meal of the trip thank goodness) and stole myself- in these estates on the outskirts of Shanghai, I and the bike still garnered a lot of interest from the locals and this area really reminded me of the underdeveloped third tier cities in southern China (like the one I lived in Hunan for three years)- confirming my impression on this trip that China is still Chinese and development is surface only to a large extent- seriously something you can forget living in Shanghai for any length of time
Scared of the outer ring-road
I kept procrastinating on entering the outer ring road as well, anyone who rides and lives in China will know why…
It turns out that all my avoiding lead me right ONto the waihuan lu -外环路-scary in the dark on a smallish dirt bike as the outer two lanes are designated for trucks and the inner to cars, so I found myself wedged again between truck going at breakneck speeds but also tailgating each other, just this time in the pitch dark on a road I wasn’t supposed to be on. I pulled over, gathered myself and went across the two lanes then found an exit and had to go back across them. I thought I was high and dry but amazingly (stupidly) found myself on the waihuan for the second time. Home late on this day sweaty and exhausted. Adventure over. Until next time.