The National Holidays in China are a very popular time for holding marriage ceremonies around the country. Apparently this is because it’s a time when everyone is home for the holidays and so they can gather the whole family together to celebrate. We found this was the case last year when we traveled to Qingdao; as there were several van-fulls of matrimonial couples dressed up in what were most likely rented outfits from the photography company lining up to take pictures in front of the big church in Qingdao (left over from the European concessions in the area).
This time around was no different as we passed maybe a dozen wedding processions on the road. The way this typically works is you have a train of about 5 cars, usually either black Audis or red Fords, with ribbons tied all over them and their license plates covered in red Chinese paper cut outs of characters for luck, etc. I managed to catch a video of us passing one of these plus the video crew in a van also passing with a guy holding a camera and leaning out of the car filming the whole thing. The other result of the holidays and the weddings is that as you pass through the various villages, there will be fireworks randomly set off at the side of the road. The first time this happened, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was quite off-putting having explosions going off right next to my bike as we drove by, but after a while you get used to it.
Today we also entered into the Yangtze River Delta region. I actually can’t say much in terms of scenery for the coastline of China in general as it is mostly flat, dusty, and developed in a sort of rushed kind of way, but there were several areas around the delta, particularly along the dozens if bridge crossings that were quite nice. One interesting aspect that is probably unique to China is that you’ll be passing through fields and farmlands and randomly in the middle of one of these fields there will be what looks like an apartment complex being built up, completely in the middle of nowhere. They seem to have little use and small chance of attracting many inhabitants, leaving us to wonder if these are a symptom of China’s own government induced housing bubble.
The place we stayed the night of Day 3 was a small and dirty town called 靖江 (Jing Jiang) which is right on the Yangtze River and close to where we could catch the ferry the next day. There also happened to be at least one wedding party staying there the night as well (we could see all their Black Audis adorned in ribbons parked outside), but luckily they still had room for a couple of wandering foreigners. Unfortunately however it seemed that the stress of driving through the Chinese countryside really took its toll on me as I found myself once again falling ill from exhaustion as I did this same time last year in Qingdao. It wasn’t as bad however and despite the slight fever, after a night of rest, water, instant noodles, and a TV special movie “Founding of a Republic”, a movie about how the communists founded modern China, by morning I was good as new and ready to head into Shanghai.
The ferry was a fun experience, but I’ll let the pictures below tell that story, and the driving into Shanghai was relatively nice, with well paved and divided roads. Despite the taxi drivers being quite obnoxious, overall the drivers in Shanghai seem to be alright. Now, with the first half of the driving over it’s time to be a tourist, as we take a train to visit Nanjing and Suzhou and spend a day or two in Shanghai before I head back home.