The Three Gorges of the Yangzi, Day 11: Cycling from Shangluo to Shanyang, 62 km. Nice walk through the hills around Shangluo in the afternoon.
This morning, we had a very straight-forward mountain stage ahead of us: 28 km up, 34 km down, finito. Despite the easy stage we decided to start early enough to have the afternoon to spend in Shanyang. On an almost car-free road, riding along a mountain creek and through peaceful villages we reached the pass before noon and easily rode downwards into Shanyang.
We didn’t regret our decision to get there early: In the afternoon, we explored a newly built park in proximity of our hotel. The park had been built just a year ago along the ridges of some hills outside of the city and it proved to be a joy to wander along the freshly planted flowers, overlooking the city and its surroundings. By the pace China changes, even if I a visit certain cities as a guide rather frequently, there will always be something new to discover. Urbanisation happens at an incredible pace, and this is best observed in “small” places such as Shanyang. I think the size of the city must have at least tripled since I came here for the first time in 2010.
As we agree in our group, most of the new buildings (high rises for accommodation which all look pretty much the same) do not look very friendly. But, apparently, city planning also has its good sides and pretty places for recreation are being built at a similar pace.
Another way to measure the growth of the city is to go and see how much is going on on the People’s Square in the evening. In cities like Shanyang, people like to get together in the evening on the people’s square for dancing, singing and body workouts. The most popular activity on these squares are line dances, typically called “big square dance” guangchang wu. As we reached the People’s square after dinner, it was already filled with dancing people. There was a partcularly big fraction of pair dancers, waltzing their ways on the smooth stone ground of the square. As a group of foreigners, we could not escape the attention and were approached by college girls who tried out their English for the first time on native speakers, and were asked to star on a number of pictures.
As the People’s Square is located derictly in front of our hotel, we wondered if we were going to get any sleep with all the noise and trampling going on. However, at 10 pm sharp all the noise died, lights went out and we spent a peaceful night in our beds.
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