Not too much to report today actually. Amy and I were able to get some real solid distance behind us while at the same time being able to enjoy the Chinese scenery.
We made it out of Pingdu without incident, as luckily no pieces seemed to have been stolen from off of the bike over night. The weather was not as favorable as it had been on the trip down with pollution significantly worse (something that’s not to be desired when you have wind going by at 90km/hr for 8-10 hours a day), but luckily we were both equipped with face masks and I had my Respro mask with a filter specially for urban pollutants. The drivers as well were as obnoxious as ever with several trying to run me off the road, but this wasn’t really anything new. You learn to yell at them, flip them off and be on your way. There certainly are times though when I wish I kept some ball bearings on me in case of “emergencies”. No lesson that a handful of ball bearings to the windshield won’t teach! One guy I actually pulled up next to at a red light and when he rolled down his window and I yelled at him, he seemed to genuinely be oblivious to the fact that he randomly just swerved into my lane for no observable purpose other than to run me off the road.
We were making good enough time that we ended past our stated goal for the day into a city called Huanghua, which is almost to Tianjin and on the way to Beijing. Though it seems to be an industrial port town, we lucked out with our hotel this night. We first pulled into am extremely glamorous, out of place looking hotel in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road. The price was extremely cheap and the room amazing, but after going up and looking at it, the front desk informed us that they couldn’t admit foreigners! This was not something we were expecting but when they offered to have a driver (with no license plate on the car by the way) escort us to another hotel that could, we soon acquiesced. The next hotel was just as nice though a little pricier but they also treated us like royalty. Since it was our last night, we stank, were tired, and as a make up for the night before, we decided to fork over the 300 RMB for the night (bargained down from 380). This one actually came with breakfast in the morning and they would prepare western coffee and toast for us in the morning if we requested ahead of time (Chinese typically don’t have either so they need ample warning). They also had a gated area where I could keep my bike and someone who helped us with our one piece of luggage off of the bike. The staff seemed particularly intrigued not only by foreigners speaking Chinese but that we were traveling such distances by motorcycle. Finally, after settling into our room and becoming increasingly excited at the prospect of a proper shower, they delivered fresh coffee and fruit straight to our room! What service!