WEEK 39 (Wednesday, September 28, 2005)
EXCITING DAYS IN
Our week in
Wednesday, October 21
After a substantial plane trip from
We were invited to
We checked into a nice hotel about 5-
Thursday, October 22
Today we were fetched by the General Manager of
This afternoon we’ve had a press conference with a number of television channels and newspapers from
Friday, October 23
Today started with one hour of running on a treadmill at an exercise studio just next to the hotel. We were then driven to “The Forbidden City” in the centre of
This afternoon we visited a
This evening we’ve been to a sponsor’s dinner together with other cyclists and people from the organization. The restaurant was very special, in the old style, hidden in narrow back-streets in the city. One doesn’t have to move all that far from the very centre of town before one is in quite different surroundings. Here people live in small creep-ins which remind one more of sheds. The streets are very narrow and almost impossible to drive a car down, and vendors stand along the streets selling fruit and foods. They even have portable bike-repair shops along the roads down here, and I’ve never seen that before. Here they’ll patch your inner-tubes and fix your chain for a small sum if you’re unlucky as you cycle to work.
Saturday, October 24
Today we were able to sleep in a little bit, and it did us good. We took a taxi in to an area with large shopping arcades, and were especially interested in visiting the so-called “Silk market.” Here they haggle for low prices from morning to night, and it’s just teeming with people in here, including many visitors and foreigners. I don’t think this was our best day, though, because after a while we had had more than enough of people shouting and jostling us, vendors grabbing our sleeves and dragging us over to buy their merchandise, and so on. We would have liked to buy a couple of nice bags, some belts and maybe a couple of silk scarves, but we’ll just have to do that on our next trip to
One can order the menu beforehand, or one person chooses various vegetable dishes, a range of seafood, and meat dishes. The lighter dishes are served first and are placed on the large round glass disc which can be rotated. Thus one can help oneself to a little of each dish, and thereby get a taste of everything. It’s a very enjoyable way to eat together, and it’s very social. Eating with chop-sticks doesn’t take long to get used to.
Sunday, October 25
We had an early start to the day today, and were woken up at 6:30. We left for the park where we were going to take part in the mountain bike race today, and be part of the festival’s second day. I held a short speech at the opening ceremony at 9:00, then followed an hour of signing autographs before Kenneth and I both lined up on the starting line with the elite class for men at 12:00. It was a short and fast track, and we were to do four rounds. We got a small lead after the first round which gradually increased through the next rounds. As always: very much fun for me to leave male cyclists behind!
The women’s elite group started at 14:30, and I didn’t exactly have too much power in my legs by then, but after a few minutes of warming up and getting my system going again, I was ready for another trip into the woods. I managed to get a few hundred metres into the race before puncturing and having to change the tube on the front wheel. I reckon I must have had a slow-flat, and I felt that the bike wasn’t working as it should from the start. I guess something had stuck into the tyre from the previous race. Changing an inner-tube easily takes some minutes. In such a short race (25 minutes), there’s no chance of catching up with the leading group again, so I ended on third place today.
I then had a new séance of autographs after the women’s race, and then a final ceremony for the trophies before leaving for the hotel again. A quick shower and some nice clothes on, and we were all set for the banquet together with sponsors, the organization and many cyclists. It ended up being a very enjoyable evening with deliciously tasty Thai food and friendly people. We even had time for a quick visit to a “disco” before leaving for home, and my “dancing legs” worked surprisingly well after a particularly long break from dancing!
Monday, October 26
Today we’ve spent most of the day on the
This evening we’ve had a Norwegian-Swedish evening together with people from the organization, and we had very spicy Chinese food on the menu – wonderfully tasty food and an exciting culinary experience for everybody who was there. I’m going to really miss the food and the chopsticks when I leave for home tomorrow, not to mention all the very friendly and nice people we’ve gotten to know during our stay.
Wednesday, October 28
The flight back home went as planned, and was dreadfully long as expected. We were at home again in our own sitting room before 23:00 last night, and as usual it felt very weird to be back again after a period away from everything we’re used to. We unpacked most of our stuff before going to bed last night. I slept somewhat fitfully, since my body doesn’t know what’s actually night and day now, but I hope it doesn’t take too many days before we’re back to the normal sleeping routine again.
We can summarize by saying that our visit to
Cyclist’s greetings from Gunn-Rita