the Chinese inability to deal with individual tourism hit us right after we arrived the port in incheon. we were told that only after all the people in the big waiting room entered the ferry it’ll be our turn. so we’re the last. ok, we thought no worries with that. patiently we waited until the last person found its way out of the hall and we started pushing our bikes towards the exit. but soon we were stopped by a Chinese official who told us ‘riding to the ferry is forbidden’ !
What? I mean we could already see the ferry. what the hell?
yea, in the end there was no other way than lifting our heavy bikes into the shitty bus full of other peoples with shitlots of plastic bags, boxes…etc.
the bus dropped us off, not even 1km after we climbed that old vehicle. wow. in front of us we found a lot of stairs to bring our bikes up to the deck. in the end we had a long discussion with the crew where to park our bikes, because you know: I can get quite particular about it. That was the start of my second odyssey on “planet china”.
The ferry itself can easily be described as a floating piece of junk. But still, it was interesting for me to experience a ferry crossing in the Yellow Sea. we could see the north Korean coast which was super exciting for me as it is probably one of the politically most interesting spots worldwide.
Soon we realised that we were absolutely exceptional on the ship. we were the only foreigners or how Chinese people say:” aliens”!
We arrived to the massive port of Tianjin/Tanggu at 9pm the day after and when we exit the ferry, china welcomed us with a heavy thunderstorm. Again discussion if we were allowed to ride our bikes to the immigration or not but I started to act like I wouldn’t understand anything and 10 min later the staff gave up and simply asked us to follow the police car to the terminal.
The same night we rode our bikes to a near park and set up a camp.
Too lazy to pitch our tents, we only slept under a beautiful pine tree and woke up, as the sun kissed us in the morning.
As it was Sunday we had a calm ride into Tianjin central, the smaller sister of Beijing. The same afternoon we found a nice café and got in touch with the owner: Eric.
Soon we realised that Eric really seemed to like us and we liked his coffee. He helped us in many aspects of our trip. It’s amazing to feel that, honestly speaking, you’ve friends wherever you go. thanks Eric! I hope you read this. Let’s stay in touch mate!
Poul and me spent two nights in a cozy hostel and the day after we rolled the 150 kms into Beijing. Damn, what a massive city. However, it’s always a very intense experience to navigate your way on a bike into one of the worlds most populated urban areas. dirty and tired we arrived to our host ‘josh’. He offered us to take our bikes up and after a ‘goodnight-beer’ we instantly fell asleep.
We stayed two nights with josh until we moved to bin.
Bin was a fantastic host too. He crossed the States on his bike already and knew what we needed.
Bins wife cooked delicious authentic Chinese food for us and quite often we drank good tea together.
We moved a second time and met rudy, his wife helen and their son max. Rudy and Helen were very welcoming hosts. Laid back , easygoing and trusted us to come to the flat whenever we wanted. They invited us for dinner which was so lovely and generous. Rudy and Helen are just another part of a long chain of wonderfull hosts I’ve had already. It taught me once again, as soon as I’ve the chance to finally host people, I will be as generous and welcoming as all of my hosts have been. Honestly speaking, I can’t wait to finally host people.
All together we spent 8 days in Beijing. It was time to leave and our friend bin offered us to lead us out of Beijing on his bike. with our local guide, leaving the town was so easy. At lunchtime we shared a sweet watermelon together and then it was time to say goodbye.
Poul and me climbed the Chinese wall the same evening and camped quite close to it. Awesome.
The ride to Zhangjiakou was quite nice earlier that day, but turned more and more into a punch in our faces due to all the dirty and noisy trucks that passed us every minute.
Luckily we met the very pretty suesue in the evening. she and her husband invited us for a massive dinner. Later she took us to her home and her little daughter was more than happy to have these new people home.
We camped in the local park again and started the next day with authentic Chinese tea.
We chilled some hours in Zhangjiakou before we started to climb the little range north of town.
It seemed that we get closer to Mongolia day by day.
In zhangbei we took a day off just doing nothing.
Within the last days in may we crossed the border to Inner Mongolia, which is still part of china politically, but scenery wise already Mongolia Mongolia. Increased distances between cities, less trees, more steppe. that’s what we like. We seem to get away from the big roads every day. steppe turns to desert and china turns into Mongolia. Fingers crossed.