Saturday, 15 July 2017

Day 85

The plan was that we nipped down to the statue of the 'Eight Imortals' on the sea front to get a group photo before too many tourists appear. Well when we got there, we found that the tourists got up before we did and it was a job getting us all together without the tourists bombing our photo. We did eventually get some photos before we left to get on with our ride for the day.

It was a shorter ride to Weihai which is a coastal town on the Yellow Sea, and our last  destination in China as in a few days’ time we hope to be getting on the ferry to go across the water to South Korea.
Again, not a real interesting ride but there was something that caught my eye as I rode past and after thinking about it for a mile or so past, I turned around to go back and get some photos.
This was Wencheng Castle and it was huge. I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked but I was close enough to capture this magnificent place with my camera.

That evening some of us went to a motorcycle event in town to which we had a special invite. There was a gathering of about 300 motorcycles earlier in the day and this was their after party.
We received a warm welcome and as we had got accustomed to by now, lots of them wanted their photos taken with us. They provided us with drinks and nibbles although I kept off the alcohol as we had to ride back to the hotel. It had a buzzing atmosphere with the live music and dancing on the stage and they even dragged us up on stage for some dancing at one point. We stayed for about a couple of hours or so before going back to the hotel.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Day 83-84

No express way today which meant we could ride on our own again and stop when we liked. Again there was not much to photograph along the way so it was not until we reached the destination on the coast of Bohai Bay that we stopped for a photo of our bikes near the sea.
So apart from the Caspian sea, which is an inland body of water, this meant that we had finally crossed Europe and Asia from the coast of France to the coast of China, and looking at this on the map shows the massive scale of this trip.

The next day was a day off from riding, so most of us went off to visit the local tourist attraction of Penglai Ge. We had an English speaking guide for the first part although I still found here difficult to understand, but I was happy just taking photos and grabbing the odd bit of information here and there. We tried to get a cable car up the hill but they closed this service down when it clouded over and the winds increased as they thought there might be a storm coming. Blimey, do they actually have a health and safety policy in place and care about the public? We then continued on without a guide to the old boat museum which was actually a very nicely arranged collection of some very old boats and artefacts.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Day 82

It was an early start in order to get to the BMW dealer to collect our bikes and be on the road by 10am.
The dealership opened their doors earlier than usual for us and after another look around their store where some people made more purchases of new kit, especially the vented clothing, we then payed our bills for the service work and collected the keys for our bikes ready to load them up ready for departure. The local bike club gave us some nice technical wick away t-shirts for us to wear which was kind of them and we wore them for the group photos outside.

We had been told that we could use the express way going out of Beijing but had to stay as a group following the van. This was a good way of getting out of the city rather than battle with the city traffic for mile after mile but the price we paid for this was losing our freedom to stop along the way whenever we liked. Not stopping for photos was not too bad as there wasn’t a great deal to see, but being unable to stop when tired was tough. There was planned stops at the services to break up the journey and give us a rest, but with the temperature reaching 42 degrees and the monotonous motorway type riding,  my eyes got very tired way before then, and no what I did, I really struggled to keep alert.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Days 79-81

We went back to the Ace the next morning to collect our bikes and take them to the new Beijing BMW dealer, who were going to be servicing the bikes and fitting new tyres ready for part 2 of the adventure. 
The dealership was in a place where there were lots of other car and motorcycle dealers and their premises were quite large with a good range of BMW clothing available on the ground floor plus other brands on the first floor. Several of us were trying on new gear and I ended up buying a new vented jacket and gloves as I was getting too hot in my Klim jacket.

The following day we had a bus ride to see and walk on a section of the ‘Great Wall’ where we had a fantastic time on the wall plus a bonus section of seeing and walking on some of the unrestored wall that was not open to the public.

This was part of the un-restored wall where the public are not allowed!

When we had done with the wall we came down via the toboggan sleds that run in a stainless steel track all the way back down to the lower level. Now we were not the most best behaved of visitors on this run down but what you have to remember is that we are not normal tourists either. There was eight of us that had just ridden 13000 miles on motorcycles across varied terrain and had now been of our bikes for a while that meant we needed that speed thrill and craziness we have been accustom to for the last three months riding amongst the Chinese drivers, so what did they expect. I think we broke about every rule they had and were constantly shouted at by the Marshall’s on the way down for doing this or that wrong, but we just laughed and carried on right to the end. We were so hot after all this excitement that some of us didn’t care about the extortionate price of the ice cream on sale and paid the 8 or 9 pounds for two scoops in a cone.
Later that evening we had our final group meal for part 1 of the trip at a very nice duck restaurant in Beijing. After that a few of us went off to some music bars for a late night out and a bit of fun at the karaoke. Well it was fun for us but probably not for anyone else that was listening!
The following day was a rest day for me as not rolling in until 3am meant I was not very bouncy early in the morning so I didn’t go sightseeing in favour of having a lie in before I went to the main China Post building with our Chinese guide Andy to post some more stuff back home. This was mostly souvenirs, to help lighten the load and give me some space back in the panniers ready for part 2 of the trip.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Day 78

With the help of a local man who runs a motorcycle club, we got permission to ride on the express was as a group for the final part of the ride to Beijing. The road surface was extremely good and we maintained a nice steady pace for mile after mile. However, there was one section which slowed to a crawl for everyone on the express way, and that was the bloody police check point. WTF is that all about, have they lost the meaning of the term ‘express’? Why not put this at the end just before getting into Beijing. Of course this was all made worse for us motorcyclists because of the heat and the gear we was riding in, I guess those people in air conditioned vehicles didn’t mind as much!

Once we got into the city of Beijing we still had several miles of traffic to deal with but this was more bearable today knowing that we would be shortly celebrating this poignant moment of the trip.

Just before we reached our destination, we all stopped to attached some flags to our bikes, which was a flag of our own country and a China flag, but it was at this point we learnt that one of the riders had just had a small bump with a car where their pannier caught with the car bodywork and so that rider was delayed whilst waiting for the police to turn up and process the incident. The rest of us with our flags attached carried on and rode another half a mile or so to our destination.

It was 78 days ago that we departed with a great send off from the Ace Café in London and in a that time we have ridden 13,000 miles to now arrive at the Ace Café Beijing where we received a fantastic welcome from the Ace staff and local motorcyclists of Beijing, all cheering and clapping as we rode in to the parking area.

As we got off the bikes we were given bottles of sparkling wine, which we promptly shook up and sprayed over each other before drinkingthe residue left in the bottle. We were then given some energy drinks which were not all that nice so we washed that down with a nice cold bottle of bear.
After that, there were some short speeches on the outside stage from various people of the British Embassy followed by a the Ace Café franchise owners and finally Kevin Sanders, our trip leader who called us all up one at a time to join him on stage to celebrate this magnificent achievement of getting all this way.
After this we had a buffet meal provided for us in one of the old railway carriages (air conditioned too) and this was all very nice especiallt the fish and chips. The beer and wine continued to flow all afternoon and into the evening as we popped in and out, mingling with the people outside every now and then before going back inside the air conditioned carriage to cool off again!

I can only guess that this is what it is like to be a star for the day, with so many people coming up and asking to have their photos with us throughout the rest of the day and wanting to ask us questions about us and the trip!!