13.09.11 Day 37
Hunyuan – Wutaishan (small town, confusingly there is also the Wutaishan mountain range, Taihuah which is also referred to as Wutaishan and a large town called Wutai!) 85km
Back up towards the hanging monastry this morning, and we climb up towards the ‘Heng Shan’ Mountain. We cycle through our first tunnel which is dark and scary, the trucks and cars sound like monsters coming up behind us. The landscape is green with christmas trees, and any land that isn’t too steep, with corn and sunflowers. We cycle up for20kmuntil we are at5524ft. It is hazy today and the sky is whity-grey, but the air is warm and at the top of the hill we have an amazing view of terraced mountains. The decent is the best, curving and sweeping the road works its way down the other side. We stop for lunch in a roadside cafe. We have to point to what the other table are eating and ask for the same! The owner takes pictures of us eating and he gives us watermelon and an armful of miniature apples to fill our barbags. We climb up high again in the afternoon. People are smiling and waving more compared to our first week inChina, when we stop to take a picture at the top we are surrouded by a bunch of guys who look at our bikes and map, crouched down looking at our tyres and panniers. The last10kmis on a pretty horrible road, so many lorries it looks like a train coming towards us, churning white dust everywhere. We are happy to arrive in Wutaishan, it takes us a while to find somewhere to stay – but when we do it is cheap and pretty decadent with a king size bed! Some friendly guys help us find somewhere to keep our bikes, they ride them over and we are worried they will fall off, also they have the cutest white fluffy wolflike puppy ever.
Wutaishan – Taihuah 47km
As soon as we leave Wutaishan we start climbing. It is hazy to begin with but it warms up, with blue sky above us and just the distance in the haze. We have steep mountains on either side of us, just a sheer drop really, but still white dots of sheep high up. We see snow on top of one mountain. We are following a stream that is coming down from the top, there are big plots of weed growing on either side of us, maybe it is for hemp or something because it is full of seeds. And corn and the biggest sunflowers i have ever seen. We stop for coffee at the side of the stream. As we get higher the road twists more and it seems like we will never get to the top. It is thick pine forest on either side and smells nice. We ride through a couple of quiet villages with traditional long red houses with square patterns around the windows, lanterns, more sunflowers and people playing cards on the side of the road. Folk are friendly too. Finally we are at the top afterup and up for35kmand at 8260 feet, we are glad of our emergerncy instant noodles! People are stopped on the side of the road and are collecting mushrooms in baskets, they are dried and sold on the road, even this high up! We weave and twist our way down the side of the mountain, we cycled up in t-shirt and shorts, but now we are wearing fleece, coat, leggings and gloves and the air is cold on our faces, but it is fun. We are now in a national park, and the scenery is stunning. We get to Taihuah at about 4 to find somewhere to stay. It is quite touristy here and there is the biggest trinket mile of market stalls ever!Templesare dotted around in the hills that surround us. We have a beer (did i mention that it is practically impossible to get beer over 3% inChina!) at a street stall and various skewered and bbq’d snacks! At dinner a guy gives us a beaker full of some sort of misceleaneous liquer that makes me wobble a bit! And fireworks are still being let off!