2wheels: The Return
Edward Genochio's bicycle expedition from China to England
September 2005 - November 2006
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Horseman Stole My Bicycle!
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Christmas in Li Ling
China's tourism industry likes to make 'top five' lists - top five famous mountains, top five famous shopping streets, top five places for eating barbecued chicken feet, that sort of thing. The town of Li Ling in Hunan province features in none of these lists. That is its charm. It is a place that offers no reason for visiting - and that, in my book, is reason enough to have a look around.
It was Christmas Eve, it was raining, and it was very, very cold. I was pedalling west on the G320, the epic road that runs through the heart of China from Shanghai to the Burmese border, when I hit a pothole. Hard. My rear wheel took the punishment. The result: a badly cracked rim. I didn't know whether it would give me another fifty kilometres, or only another five, but at any rate it was clear that there wouldn't be a long wait before it would dump me unceremoniously, leaving me with a unicycle and a sore backside.
I dug out my map and assessed the situation. Nearest town: Li Ling. Distance: about 25 kilometres. It was touch-and-go. I got back in the saddle and pedalled gingerly, wincing at every bump and rut. I crossed the border from Jiangxi to Hunan, and the road surface improved.
An hour later I rolled into Li Ling, where Christmas is in full swing. All the shops have "Merry Christmas" - in English - sprayed on their windows - except one which, cryptically, proclaims "I love Gloria" instead. There were life-size inflatable Father Christmases for sale. But 2004's real must-have was a red and white felt Santa hat with flashing