The Three Gorges of the Yangzi, Day 23: On our way to Yichang, we change routes and go half the distance by car, and half the distance by bike.
Today, we made two spontaneous arrangements:
The first one was a complete change of our original route. After cycling 10 km, Xiao Yang brought us the bad news: Due to construction, the whole road ahead of us was blocked for all traffic, even pedestrians were not allowed to pass. We had been warned by the owner of our hotel that it might get difficult for cars to go through, but we had hoped that on our bikes we might be able to somehow make our way past the construction. Now that we were certain that there was no way, plans needed to be rearranged. After a bit of research we decided to try out a new route on the other side of the Yangzi. The alternative route was quite a bit longer, and seemed to include a lot more climbing. No one of us was in the mood to go through that much “suffering” on our last day, so we decided to drive half the distance by car. Since we are only six cyclists, we managed to fit all people, luggage and bicycles into Xiao Yang’s little truck and went up the hills on the other side of the river. The route was pretty, not much trafficked, but with a long ascent and we were happy that today, for a change, could simply sit in the car and let the engine do all the work. After reaching the top, we hopped on our bikes and cycled the last 45 km down into Yichang. We crossed the Yangzi for one last time on a huge bridge, and then it was done! We returned the bicycles to the local GIANT bike store and checked into our hotel, and celebrated the end of our 14-stage cycle tour with a last “dirty beer” in the sunshine outside of the entrance hall. We’ve had great weather overall, merely a handful of punctured tires and, most importantly, no crashes or injuries. Ganbei to our luck!
In the evening it was time to say good-bye to our driver Xiao Yang, who had done a perfect job during the 20 days he stayed with us – in reliably leading us to the best restaurants in town, fetching us cold drinks whenever we needed them and most importantly by always wearing a smile on his face and bonding with all members of our group despite the language barrier.
Tonight, Xiao Yang had yet again found a great restaurant for us. As it happened, my Chinese friend Mingyan recently got married in Yichang to her German boyfriend, and as the two of them were still in the city I had invited them to join us for dinner. For the group it was interesting to talk to an Yichang native who could speak German, and for the newly wed husband it was nice to be among compatriots for a change, after spending two weeks in China surrounded by people who hardly spoke any English let alone German. After dinner, the day’s second surprise caught us when the two of them returned our favour of inviting them for dinner by inviting us to their temporary home for a little karaoke-party. After a little hesitation in the beginning and with the help of a few alcoholic beverages, the evening ended with all of us wholeheartedly singing along to Beatles’ and sixties rock classics.