We had been warned and today we experienced it: many western Chinese people believe that it is dangerous to pump gas into a motorcycle. Strange, but oh so very true. This fear causes riders of two and three-wheeled vehicles to pump gas into a watering can, carry it to an area on the fringe of the gas station, then pour it into their gas tanks.
At our first gas stop today, we were directed away from the pumps to the motorcycle area. Kevin told us not to do this and to push for direct pumping. That was a good suggestion for several reasons. First of all, carrying an open bucket of gas and lifting it up high enough to pour into our bikes is even more dangerous than pumping. Furthermore, the rusted, galvanized can available was sitting out in the rain. No way do we need rust and water getting into our fuel injectors. Finally, the capacity of the can and of our bikes would make this a three or four-trip process. No way!
This was the time for John to earn his guide fee. He argued vehemently with the pump attendants and the manager on duty. It was hilarious to watch them fighting in Chinese. Unfortunately, John was unable to convince them to pump into our ikes so on we went to a station that would see the monetary value of selling eighteen large motorcycles worth of gas and pump away.
The memorial to “The Long March,” when the Communist Chinese army retreated from the Nationalist Chinese Army, was closed for an unknown reason. This event began Mao Zedong’s ascent to leadership of the Communist Party. While we waited for the gates to open, Larry chose to rest rather than join the map conference being held by Mick, Kevin, and Ernst.
I struck up a conversation with a truck load of donkeys. One of them beckoned after I headed toward my bike.
The Long March Memorial never opened so we headed for lunch. With no Chinese guides yet at the cafe, Mick had the brilliant idea to call John on his cell phone and have John order food for our group. The kitchen staff seemed amused at the number of cameras aimed at the stove. The chef sure liked to reach for the bowl full of red chili peppers. John had ordered us chicken and that meant the WHOLE chicken. No one fought me for the foot or head. They both “tasted like chicken.”
Children pressed their faces at the window of the private room that we alien like creatures were eating. The adults saved their curiosity for our departure. One little boy waved good by to me while two begged Larry to stay.
To celebrate his 30th Wedding Anniversary, Peter M, of Switzerland, treated us to dinner. Virtually all dishes on the buffet were more appealing than the sauce with albino buns called “Chinese Hamburgers.” Peter, we wish you and Pia many more happy years together.
21-Jun Pingliang to Lanzhou 209 miles
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