Quinhai Lake to Bird Island
(Ching-hi Lake to Bird Island)
Another day as hotel mechanic. And we are now in the (sort of) city of Bird Island. Bird Island is basically an Island that is thick with bird inhabitants. But it is not really an Island but rather a peninsula that extends from the shore into the lake. Technically we are not on the peninsula part, but rather just on the outskirts of the shore.
After getting our room keys (early/easily again — Thanks Shizhe) we put luggage away. I secure a wash spot because it is again only 4 or 5 hoses for all teams. I organize the bike room to our liking. I’m happy. The bike wash is close to the hotel and actually in front of the dining room/building. The bike storage is close by also. Whew!! No dragging my shit all over the (small) city.
Directly next to the bike room are two small “stores” selling trinkets. After work I go and look. I see a few things and start haggling with the guy over a cool pipe. I’ll guess it is some cool pipe for smoking Opium. At least I’ll dream/pretend it is for that. It is cool though. The owner and I haggle back and forth quite a bit and at the end I buy it as we both laugh. I take it to my roommate (Kurt) and he thinks it is cool also. My joking self decides to try and get Eki with a prank. I empty the contents of a tea bag into the pipe, put the lid on and take it to Eki’s room to show him my purchase. I show Eki and he is astounded how cool it is. I then say to Eki that the store owner even gave me a sample to smoke and show him the contents. Eki falls for it hook, line and sinker. But I don’t even say what is inside before he blurts out “it’s Opium” to me. I play along and we talk about what we think are the effects of smoking the Opium. I get two or three others with this joke and then later at dinner I come clean to Eki that it was just tea leaves in the pipe. WE all have a good laugh.
Just before dinner Jeanick and I go for a walk through town. It takes a whopping 15 minutes to walk to the opposite side of this small town. Jeanick was, still is, and always will be hankering for some coffee. This is our 4th city here in China so far and there are ZERO Starbucks to be found. And worse than that (for Jeanick) is there are just plain and simply NO coffee shops to sit and sip a cup-a-Joe. We stop by a place in hopes they serve coffee. We ask, and the guy says no but he has beer (in his limited English). We are tempted inside. We see a small shelf of drinks etc. But we are drawn to many bottles of rice wine. Or so we think it is. Potent stuff for sure. In our limited language skills (mostly hand signals) we get the guy to pour us some. I’m still nervous and get the guy to drink it first to see if it is something to drink (and not clean my bike chains with). He downs it with ZERO hesitation. He pours more for Jeanick and I, and gesture that it is on the house. We pound it back and it is definitely POTENT to say the least. They pour us a different brand and we pound that one back just as quick. In the end, Jeanick and I buy some small bottles of the rice wine. We then take pictures with the owner (?) and the bartenders and the other staff. The main guy appears to have had quite a few shots already. He’s loopy for sure.
After dinner the staff decides to take a trip out to Bird Island. I just can’t seem to grasp Bird Island so for me it will forever be Bird Peninsula. Tourist time!! We get the guys from Trek China to loan us their car. Race organization prohibits us from using official race provided team vehicles for anything but race caravan and luggage transportation.
We get out to bird Island (Peninsula) only to get to a closed gate and guard house. Our translator, Shizhe, tries in vain to get him to open the gate for us so we can take a short peek at Bird Island. But to no avail as NO is his stern response. I don’t understand the Chinese he spoke but the tone and short answer was crystal clear. So we turn back.
Back to the hotel and out for a walk and more trinket shopping. Shopping is one thing we have been (and will be doing) this whole trip. On our free/off time after the race finishes and we do our work, we’ll walk around and see what we can buy/get.