25 May 2008

At Long Last

May 24—Finally, the bikes were released from the port and from customs and…promptly disappeared. They should have arrived by 0700 or so at our hotel, but they didn’t, and the Leader had no idea where they were. Apparently the truck drivers claimed to have needed fuel and had to wait all night in a fuel queue, but we think they spent their time otherwise.

In any event, no one seemed to have any idea how we would be unloading the bikes from the containers, or seemed to be doing anything about it. A couple of us walked around town to find an unloading ramp, without success. Sim, our Chinese guide, picked up on the issue and picked us up and drove us to a vacant lot he’d found with a big earthen bank on one side where we could back the trucks up to, open the containers, and unload the bikes.

The trucks finally showed up around 15:00 on Saturday, May 24, and we started unloading the bikes. Here’s how it went:

We attracted quite a crowd of locals. Here one has picked up some of TJ's stuff, TJ's expression is priceless (the guy was just curious and neatly replaced TJ's stuff once he'd examined it):

We filled up the bikes around the corner, and gathered across the street from the unloading site to leave town.

We finally left on our bikes for Shenyang about 1600, and we got there way after dark, thus giving rise to the Organizer's first “iron rule”: “We absolutely never ride at night, except when we do.” More iron rules would follow…

Here are some shots as we line up at a toll booth that first night:

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