A good look at China


Long rides on the National Day of the PRC are becoming a ritual. 136 km from Shanghai to Nantong today.

My favorite part is always the ferry. Cars can choose one of two huge bridges, but not so much for bicycles. The Yangtze river is massive — and because all the passengers walk around the boat, you quickly meet familiar faces, even though the crossing is only half an hour.

Especially in rural areas, people are curious about foreigners. Near the outskirts of Changshu a yeye passes me on his scooter and hits the brakes, making me almost crash into him: “OMG where are you from? Can you lift your sunglasses? What color are your eyes?”

And maybe I am just a ‘bearded barbarian’ (this is how Dutch people were described in China in the 17th century). But today is also a holiday — about China — and people are proud and in a great mood.

Near Zhangjiagang a yeye passed me on his three-wheeler and while driving, offered me some sugarcane. Plus, once out of Shanghai and into the rural areas, I got dozens of thumbs up from adults, waves from kids.

On the National Day I honor the country by taking a good look at over a hundred kilometers of it, and maybe unconsciously people feel that. Or, maybe — maybe it’s just a happy day.