My trip to China started Tuesday afternoon after racing the Gateway Cup in St. Louis, Missouri. Going from race to race is awesome but a pain at the same time. Normally when you’re headed to a race you are rested and excited to get there. This trip, not so much.
The one cool thing about flying and stopping everywhere is that you get to see a lot. I first flew into Toronto where the city lights illuminated a massive city that seemingly went on forever. I then made my way to Vancouver and had some amazing views of the surrounding area on a sunny flight out the next morning. I’ve never been to Vancouver but just from seeing a bit of the city and the surrounding mountains, it’s definitely a place I want to go back soon and check out.
Perhaps the most interesting sights on the trip were
the Kamchatka Peninsula jutting down from Russia. There were a number of massive volcanoes with their peaks still entrenched in snow. Normally when you’re flying at 40,000 feet, everything below looks flat. When a mountain reaches up and you can literally see how much closer the peak is to you, you know it’s big. On this peninsula along with the volcanoes were a lot of empty mountains scattered with a few small towns and one road connecting each. This place is truly out there as not only is it super far north, it has a vast ocean on three sides.
Once we were over China there was a lot of rice fields interspersed with super condensed towns. Literally all of the buildings will be in one area and then nothing but rice fields. As we got Closer to Beijing, the towns grew in size and include ridiculous amounts of high rise, assumingly apartment buildings.
Any international trip always seems to include some sort of chaos. My flight touched down in Beijing late which was then preceded by a huge line at customs; both of which are to be expected. Beijing was only a stopping point as from there I needed to catch yet another flight to the start city; a 2 ½ hour flight south to Ganzhou. I finally made it through everything and some super helpful guy had me running after him to the correct ticket counter to get a ticket and check my bags but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. Luckily I knew this was a possibility so I didn’t buy my ticket ahead of time as it’s normally the same price in advance as it is at the counter. One of the other American teams, CCB, and friends of mine were in the same boat so it actually worked out well since we then all got a hotel together to then catch a flight the next morning. Traveling in a foreign country is always better and more enjoyable with other people.
The Final Push
Having a third day of travel puts you in a place where all you want is to get where you’re going. You’re tired, you’re sore, you’re aggravated. Fortunately being in good company helps along with the final hour or two long bus ride being through incredible countryside and mountains. On the flight in you could see how up and down the terrain was. The mountains where immense and lush. We took a twisty, curvy mountain pass road to a lake that had a resort hotel. It made up for the crazy days of travel and lack of sleep. Finally I arrived at the Tour of Poyang Lake only for the journey to begin.