Long day. So long that I was too tired to do this post last night. So instead it is the next morning and I'm laying in the hotel bed writing this. I left the Dongguan hotel and rode to China New South Mall, the largest mall in the world based on gross leasable area (of which a majority is not leased). After driving the go karts at the mall, the time was about 12:30pm when I set off for Shenzhen.
Considering I got all the way to the Shenzhen Airport, I probably could have made it back home from Dongguan in only one day if I would have left the hotel at 9am and rode all the way though without too many stops. I took the route closer to the coast. The biking turned out to be a lot easier than my trip to Dongguan, with lots of straight and flat roads.
If Star Wars fans want to know what it would be like to take a long bike ride on Coruscant, you should take the route I did today. All I saw was 50 miles of factories, busy town centers, huge empty highway crossings, and more factories.
But I did get to see buffalo/cows!
Stats for the day:
Ride Time: 5:11:20
Stopped Time: 1:40:05 (Include mall visit and lunch. Doesn't include cow crossing)
Distance: 49.75 miles
Average: 9.59 mph
Fastest Speed: 23.80 mph
Ascent: 2805 feet
Descent: 3040 feet
Map of the ride: http://j.mp/wDmMwR
Problems of the day:
No real problems. Rear bike wheel is a little bent. Not sure if this happened before this trip, but only noticed it today. While the hazy skies of the past few days were cloud and fog related, I'm not too sure today's was. Often there was the smell of smoke in the air. Being New Years, most of the factories are closed and that should help cut down on the population in this area. But the sky was overcast all day and some of that probably was pollution.
Taffy given out today: 1 piece. Gave to a really old man at a large road crossing. He was selling feather dusters and steering wheel covers at the intersection. Seemed he wasn't having too much luck. He seemed happy to get saltwater taffy though. (Don't tell anyone, but I ate two pieces).
Photos of the day:
The New South China Mall was about 5 miles from my hotel. This was my first sight of it.
I had no idea how to get in. Further down the road I found a small entrance on the left that led to a spa, but instead of stopping at the spa's entrance I continued to bike onwards and ended up in the restricted section of the mall (I wasn't really trying, but there weren't any barriers saying 'Do Not Enter.') I don't know if this section has always been closed off from the public or if it is undergoing renovation. And remember that at this point the entire mall might have been closed as far as I knew. Florence Bridge was the first thing I saw:
I guess this section of the mall was made to look like Venice. According to Wikipedia, the mall has 7 zones that look like different cities/regions (I wish I would have found the California zone). There is a canal running through this section, and all the bridges over it have names like "Florence Bridge" or "St. Marks Bridge." So I rode around what looked like Venice after the apocolypse and snapped some photos. I only ever saw one person, an old man sweeping dust off the path.
Suddenly I heard people talking and turned around to see a gondola passing by. Where did they come from? Maybe this place isn't so dead after all.
I got to the end of the closed section and luckily a construction door had been left open. When I came out, I saw people...
I saw cars...
I saw an IMAX...
and I saw a Lexus dealership (although there were no cars inside).
I continued forward and arrived at a small amuzement park in the center. I promised the security guard I would not ride my bike while inside.
While most of the mall's square footage might not be occupied, at least it has a McDonalds and Pizza Hut, making it like the other 99.9% of Chinese malls.
I decided to get off the beaten path once more and continued to the eastern half of the mall. While not under construction like the western Venice side, this area seemed completely unoccupied, all 4-7 stories of it.
While walking in the middle of this huge unoccupied mall, I just happened to look down a hallway to the left a saw a sign for "Kart Race Track." Like a fly towards light, I followed.
Above the elevator, Michael Schumacher is telling me my dreams (梦想) are on the 7th floor (七楼). Well I certainly wasn't going to turn back now.
And that's when I did find my dream: an enormous go kart track on the 7th floor of the world's largest empty mall. Both when I arrived and left, people were coming to the track, so customers do know about it. The group before me did a best lap of 1:07. My best was a 1:04. Apparently the track record is a 0:58. I originally bought two tickets (each for 10 minutes), but after the first session I looked at the time and decided I needed to get going. They were nice enough to refund the second ticket.
Shortly after leaving the mall and heading southwest, I came upon my greatest discovery in the 5 years I've been in China. It is so massive and so groundbreaking that I cannot share it now. It must wait for a very super special post. But here is a sneak peek:
Stopped for lunch at a Muslim noodle place. Outside of McDonalds or KFC, these are the most reliable restaurants in China. They are in every city and has the same exact menu on the wall.
Road to nowhere.
This cute little lamb was at the side eating. Must have been someone's pet. I now want a lamb.
In the middle of the Shenzhen/Dongguan industrial area I came upon a group of buffalo, cows, and a single horse. They were grazing as a large group. They then decided to cross the highway (which luckly wasn't crowded with cars). A few minutes later the owner of the cows came by to make sure the few stragglers continued with the group.
Took a pee break in a field and found sheep.
I had to cross a river and the only way to do so was by highway. I took a ramp with a sign for Shenzhen and was met at the other side of the river by policemen with machine guns at a car checkpoint. Every driver had to show identification before entering. The man with the machine gun asked to see my passport. But before I got it out, another police asked where I was going (Shenzhen), where I had come from (Dongguan), where I lived (Shenzhen), and how I had gotten here from Dongguan (by bike). He laughed along with the other policemen and waved me through.
I was officially on the road back to Shenzhen.
After a while, I reached Shenzhen Airport.
It was after 5, so I decided to find a hotel and have an easy ride back home on Saturday. I previously had a late flight canceled due to weather and the airline gave us complimentary rooms at a hotel close to the airport. I remembered the hotel being next to the new airport metro line. So I followed the metro.
Took some convincing for the security guard to let me keep the bike in my hotel room instead of the room behind the front desk. I ended up having to resort of humor and telling him the bike was like my little brother; I couldn't leave my little brother alone for the night.
Serious helmet head.
After 50 miles and 5+ hours of riding, finally laid down and watched some tennis.
Tomorrow (which is actually today as I'm writing this)? The ride home.