Today’s distance / ???????: 40.4 miles / 65.1km
Average speed / ????: 8mph / 12.9km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 02m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 6787mi plus 386mi (?) / 10,923km plus 622km (?)
Ascent / ??: 310m
Descent / ??: 305m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N31°44′37.4″, E116°29′28.2″
Fatigue sucks. I lost it with someone today. Really shouted at them. Just a random curious human being.
I rolled into the small town around 11:45am, ready to sit down for lunch somewhere. I had already covered 40km. Not many places to choose from in this little village. “Where is a place to eat?” I asked the man on the corner fixing shoes. “Just over there,” he pointed.
I moved on quickly, before the approaching bystanders could encircle me and start asking questions. Arrived at the restaurant.
“Hallllooooooooo?” the restaurant owner wailed loudly in the far too typical upward tone ended, almost mockingful greeting that I get on an almost minutely basis in eastern China. I gave him a scowl. Dumb punk, I thought. Get a life. Just because I might be a foreigner that doesn’t speak Chinese and doesn’t know the social ways of your country, doesn’t mean that you should mock me.
I walked straight past him and walked to the kitchen door. I conversed with the cook, and ordered a bowl of noodles in an egg soup.
A few minutes later I was sitting at the front window, eating my noodles. I try to look as inconspicuous as possible, but my skateboard in front of the restaurant draws people in. There were no other people in the restaurant until now, apart from the cook and the owner. Now there are five people. Standing at the door, peering in. Taking a look at the foreigner. An old woman wanders slowly past, sneaking a look. She quickly removes her gaze when she sees me looking at her. She does another pass, this time straining to catch a glimpse of me through the cracks of the others standing in the doorway.
One starts to approach me. I stay focussed on my noodles and pretend not to notice. By the time she is a meter away from me, I sense that polite conversation is imminent. The same questions. The same astoundment at my amazing Chinese skills after me only uttering a few words.
A guy tries to peer through the door. View blocked by others. Comes to the window that I am sitting at. He’s outside. I’m inside. I can’t take it. I try to motion him away with my hand. He stares. Look, the trained monkey is trying to communicate! He stares.
I crack. I am only half way though the verey delicious bowl of noodles. Throw my chopsticks down on the table, stand up, storm out of the restaurant, throwing the money at the owner. Storm back into restaurant to retrieve GPS unit I forgot in my frustration.
I am angry at myself for being so rash. But I am also angry at the locals for not giving me some personal space while I eat. Surely that is a rude thing to do, even here in China – stare at someone while the eat. Surely this is not some cultural thing that I am not understanding…I don’t know, but I am angry at this small moment in history.
Now this is where I really lose it. A guy starts trailing me on his motorbike. Just behind me so that I can’t see him if I’m looking ahead. I put up with it for a full 60 seconds, and then indicate to him to pass on by. He just pulls up beside me and stares. Asks where I am from. I decide that I do not speak Chinese. This ploy does not work. He just shuts up and continues to stare. I once again indicate for him to carry on. “Get out of here!” I shout in English. “Go! Go away!”
He pulls away a few meters but stays just ahead of me, turning his head around, craning to look at me every now and then. He looks around to see if there are any others looking at me. To validate his curiosity, perhaps?
“Look, just f*** off!” I yell without control, voice trembling. He seems to get the point and takes off.
What have I become? It’s not that I used language that I never use. It’s just that I was so incredibly angry and out of control. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I was seething. I have become some sort of animal. I am seeing a dark side of myself that I have never seen, and do not want to see ever again. I am not myself. This is not Rob Thomson.