Once upon a time... / by Rachel Banfield

Once upon a time, I started cycling from Hong Kong to Scotland.

That was today.

Technically I didn't start cycling in Hong Kong. In fact, you can see from the photo below that poor Rafiki (yes, he has a name) was left on the back of the ferry to mainland China to be hammered by the rain and waves. Not a very dignified start for him.

After loading up my steed in Gaoming we were off. I have to say, it was pretty surreal. Here I was, on a scarily heavy bike, in 35 degree heat and 80% humidity, in a place where I couldn't read any of the signs and where no one seemed to understand my attempts at Chinese, about to start what could potentially be a multi-year trip. Luckily, I had my first challenge to distract me: navigation. If you know me, you may have possibly noticed that I am not exactly the best navigator (I can hear you sniggering from here Sarah). Thank you Mum for that inheritance.

I did manage to find my way out of town and there was even a side road parallel to the 8 lane highway for bicycles, scooters and other slow vehicles. I continued on this road for a few hours after which it suddenly became a tiny one lane village road. Ok, I thought, at least it is nice and scenic. The little country lane then became a potholed, muddy mess. I, after squelching through the ankle-deep mud pushing Rafiki, also became a muddy mess. 

 From there the road became rideable again and I cycled alongside the Xi river, taking in big factories belching out smoke 

and beautiful, greener than green fields.

I may possibly have spent over half an hour trying to find my way out of a little town of Jinli. At least I got to chat (and by 'chat' I mean speak at each other in our respective languages) to a very nice lady who brought her little boy over to see the funny sweaty woman who cycled past his school three times...

Finally leaving the my new friends behind, I successfully escaped Jinli and rode past (thankfully not up) mountains,

noisy goose farms, 

and a lakeside village. 

I made it to Zhaoqing by early afternoon, although it took another few hours (yes, hours) to locate my hostel. Note to self: learn to use my GPS.

I devoured this wonderfully green and garlicy meal

Met this little guy

and collapsed into bed.

70km down, only about another 13,000km to go!