Our “Honeymoon Phase 1” was going lovely. But hand feeding Alex chicken curry while cockroaches crawled across our feet had to end at some point. We hauled these damn bikes from Korea and they weren’t going to ride themselves. Enter China.
Keal: Do you know Chinese?
Alex: No, I don’t know Chinese. Do you?
Keal: No, I thought you knew it.
Alex: I thought you did?
The bike portion of our trip started slowly. But despite a language barrier and our usually pointless games of charades with the locals, we quickly took each day in stride. Our strategy of casually building up daily travel distances paid off well. An easy bike ride, some Chinese eats, and a cheap yet ballin’ hotel brought out the inner steroid induced Lance Armstrong in both of us. Which was perfect because it allowed us to really dive into the southern Chinese culture.
Biking through small villages was pretty incredible. The novelty of stares and dropped jaws as we rode past local farmers started to fade, but it was always great to see the excited faces of children as they would wave and giggle. And rural scenery didn’t hurt either. Small mountains weren’t fun to climb, but being out of a large city made it worth it. Relaxing and eye opening.
Every few days we let bigger cities have their place as well though. Apart from a place to finally clean our clothes, we were treated with ‘Vegas-like’ karaoke bars, kitsch shopping centers and even movie theaters. We watched a hilarious Taiwanese film that confirmed my guilty pleasure of romantic comedies translates to any language.
Biking the countryside, car horns in our faces, questionable yet tasty street food, squatting toilets, a few rare foreigners, and 800 km down. China is pretty great. But with all this awesomeness to soak in, how would we ever know when the honeymoon phase would end?
Keal: So that Chinese thing we saw today was pretty cool.
Alex: Yeah it was. Super Chinese.
Keal: So what do you want to do now?
Alex: I don’t know, what do you want to do?
Keal: Well we could go back to the room and uh… just watch some netflix and chill….
It seemed failsafe, but even the top panty dropper line in 2015 couldn’t save us. It started great with me introducing Alex to ‘The League’ and him following suit with the british show ‘Gavin and Stacey’. But our culture differences started to show the reality of our relationship.
Keal: What do you mean you don’t know who Antonio Gates is?
Alex: How do you not know the location of Essex in relation to Wales?
Alex stopped looking at me the same. Our bike paces differed. We ate separate bowls of rice instead of sharing one. Was the magic gone? Did the honeymoon finally come to an end?
Yeah probably, but who cares? One month and two countries down. Vietnam is next!