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The Group

November 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

We had a couple of days in Hong Kong staying in a nice hotel before flying to Guangzhou across the border.  We’ve been to HK six times before so so it was back to the markets and taking in the hustle and bustle that makes up this vibrant city.  The flight to Guangzhou took 50 minutes; 30 minutes of which was taxiing on the runway!

There were three other Aussies on our flight and they had us pegged on the plane.  We “fitted the profile”, they said, which was obviously my good looks and MP’s powerful calf muscles and concluded we were the only one who would qualify as bike riders. 

Jon and Chris from Brisbane, a happy, delightful couple, were accompanied by their next door neighbour, Sharon, who was on a sabbatical from her husband who’s only definition of bike riding was one with 1000cc under his bum.  Sharon never stopped smiling and laughing the whole trip even when she felt lousy with a cold or was straining up the big hills or over the long days.  We spent the first day exploring Guangzhou with these three very pleasant people and then met the rest of the group in the hotel that night.  In no particular order………

Dennis and Teresa from Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Dennis, a former helicopter pilot and IT Professor and now into his third life forming a bicycle tour company in Colorado, and Terry, a specialist doctor combining the trip with a conference in Beijing after the tour.  Very pleasant, quiet Yanks.

Siobhan, a dynamic Irish doctor, and Gordon, the not so dour Scot both living in England who provided a lot of humour and stories to the group.  Siobhan had obviously kissed the Blarney Stone big time but you hung off ever story and tale from this lady. Gordon’s stories of his adventures on the North Sea oil rigs provided much mirth.

Sam and Lynn were another lovely British couple.  Sam, the quiet achiever and semi retired from his adventure company, and at 64, by far the fittest person on the trip.  Every big hill would see Sam riding back down to give the others encouragement and tell us how much further to go. 

Glenda – British, Mary – Irish and Regine – Brit, German, South African (still haven’t figured out) all travelling with the other Brits/Irish and who had all met on previous biking trips.  Mary, from Cork, a quiet Irish lass who hadn’t kissed the Blarney stone but took a big fall just 1k from the finish of the trip and laughed off the big gouges out of her arm as just scratches.  Glenda and Regina liked to hang back taking their time with lots of photos and probably saw more of China than the rest of us.  All specialist doctors, who told us not to have an accident as none of them could remember how to apply a band-aid.

Mark, Inger and Iris travelling together from Brisbane.  The young ones on the trip who must have thought they had joined a pensioners tour but got on well with everyone.  Mark, an IT guru, brought along his notebook computer to do some work on the go and I suspect Mark might have trouble in retirement.  Iris is a Chinese born Aussie who was our translator when our leader was absent and helped us with our dismal Mandarin.  A pleasant lass with a huge smile.

Like Iris, all Chinese who learn English or come into contact with Westerners like to give themselves Anglo names and our wonderful leader, Vincent, was no exception.   Quiet, unassuming, witty and an excellent organiser who was the catalyst behind this being such a great trip for all concerned.

And last but not least, Wayne from Adelaide.  What a character and travelling companion!  First impression was that this guy was going to be the pain in the arse one gets on some trips but how wrong could we be.  A very laid-back, witty Aussie who provided us with many stories and jokes and got on so well with the rest of the group.  Wayne only did the biking section as he was meeting up with his wife in Hong Kong and was sorely missed when we parted in Yangzhou. He rode the whole trip in singlet, shorts and sandals and stopped several times a day for a smoke.  I’d whiz past him sitting under a shady tree puffing on his fag and then 15 minutes later he’d be zooming past me.  Atypical of the fit bike rider but he was as strong as an ox and could ride a bike better than most of us.  Taught us all how to use chopsticks.

With seventeen travelling companions, you’d expect some cracks in the cohesion but the group dynamics was one of the best we have experienced.  Everyone summed each other up over dinner on the first night and I always wait for the first order of beers followed by the facial expressions of “WTF” when I say we don’t drink and I’m never disappointed.  “What! An Aussie that doesn’t drink” is the usual cry.  However, when I explain I kept the Aussie economy afloat (if you’ll excuse the pun) with beer sales in my youth, and that MP never touched the stuff, we seem to be accepted if not as fully fledged members of the Dirty Beers Club but more on that later.

And the other non-drinker in the group?  Wayne of course!

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  1. MM
    November 2, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I’m sure Gordon will love you for posting that photo of him and Wayne looks like one of those people who you think you’ve met before … one of those familiar faces. Sounds like a wonderful group and I’m sure you’ll keep in touch.

    Gordon had a sense of humour. I think! Anyway, he has a long way to go to catch me.

    Not sure about any contact. Some very nice people we’ve met in the past and the trip has been it. One girl on a previous trip told us all not to bother visiting as she only had a small flat. Yep, no worries.

  2. Red Dragon
    November 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Fantastic tale DB! Every bit of it a real treat just like those three Chinese meals every day! Thanks

    Gee, I haven’t even warmed up yet! The meals were great but I could pass on one for breakfast. In Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing, we got western breakfasts and it was like pigs in a trough.

  3. November 3, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Cor blimey, looks like you had a blast!
    A great bunch of travelling companions. Obviously a vacation to go down in the record books of trips to remember.

    We certainly did. Three weeks went so fast it seems a blur. Thanks goodness for the photos.

  4. November 4, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Methinks we like Wayne…

    We did. His father named him after John Wayne. He said he’d never been over our way and would visit us some day. Not so computer savvy and the email address he gave a couple of us was dodgy.

  5. AZ
    November 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Is it just me or is the air quality kind of bad in China? I realize part of it is fog from all the greenery, but the sky never looks blue in any of the pictures. I’m taken with the hills, I suppose Monument Valley would look similar if we could get anything to grow on the monuments, but alas we have nothing but bare spires. Vincent would be surprised that westerners haven’t named a kid Vincent in 50 years, he’d do better to call himself Jayden, Conner, Tyler, Bryan, Travis, or some other more popular western name. Enjoyed the pictures immensely, keep them coming.

    China is covered in pollution, murk, inversion layer; you name it. The first time we struck clean air was in Beijing for one day and then it was back to the usual. My brother’s students pick some weird names but I guess they like them. Why conform to the West anyway.

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