So I thought it might be nice to have a little story for everyone.
On Day 5 or 6 of the Rally, we were riding down a back road to make our way to the highway at around 10:00 am. We had hit the middle point of our ride, and were next to each other when we hit a stoplight. To our right was the inlet river to Taihu Lake – the mighty Wangyu. The river was lined with transport boats with little Chinese sampan’s cruising from shore to shore. And on our left, a convenient store with two men inside and a cop car sitting out front.
I remember Chris waiving and hollering at me to stop at the light because a cop was in the vicinity. We try to be cognizant of the police officers in-country because compliance is our best friend while traveling in parts of the countryside that don’t often see foreigners.
After we stopped at the light, I hollered back and mentioned I’m going to stop and grab some water. Chris didn’t hear, so he rode off and circled back a bit later.
Now remember, neither of us speak fluent Chinese, but we can get by. And when we say we can get by, I understand Chinese fairly well, and Chris can speak fairly well. So between the two of us, we can have one hell of a conversation.
So there I am, grabbing water, when I strike up a discussion with the two old hands in the convenient store. We’re chatting about where I’m from, and where I’m riding as I buy a few waters, when Chris comes up. Chris jumps into the conversation and we’re yacking about our next 20-30 clicks, and how the weather is hot, when the owner of the convenient store launches into a story. This is how two laowai’s understood the tale:
“See what you’re going to do is keep riding down this road here, and turn onto a big highway. You don’t want to take that highway, no, you want to take the back roads so you can avoid the big trucks. Yeah you’re an idiot if you take the highway.
There was a kid, he was about 24 years old, who was doing the same thing as you two. He got on his bike and started riding. Here he is at this crossroad, being foolish, and decided to take the short route. He was told ‘Don’t go on the highway’ but what did he do? He went on the highway.
See, young people don’t listen. They have to make decisions for themselves, so trouble finds them.
So the kid takes the highway, and as he’s riding, a big semi truck drives by and takes his head clean off. (insert slicing movement across the neck) And just like that, he’s dead”
And there we are, just listening to this, when the talking stops for an awkward amount of time. We respond “…huh….”
We look at each other, then back at him, and he’s just standing there with a smile on his face. We say “OK, see you later.” They walk off, and we ride out the rest of our day.
And there it is. Words of wisdom from an old Chinese man.