A cyclist’s impressions of the Middle Kingdom

If you’ve not yet come across the blog “Artic-cycler.com” and this crazy Aussie bloke, Matthew’s epic journey cycling from Eindhoven to Adelaide you are in for ‘adventure travel’ through some of the world’s most incredible landscapes. He raises awareness through the “Green Pedals” movement to promote the topics of sustainability and health in schools around the world. His latest instalment on “Impressions of the Middle Kingdom” is the extraordinary footage and first hand account of travels through China. What a journey – all kudos to you Mate!!

arctic-cycler.com

My posts have been delayed so I do not post on China while in China. I have now cycled through China and am in Laos. From now on, I will post without this delay. You can read my thoughts of cycling through Laos and beyond in closer to real time, while also reading daily posts of my trip through China (with the 3 month delay). Here are my thoughts on China.

As a skinny, exhausted cyclist, I staggered across the border from China to Laos. I cycled over 6000km in China in almost 3 months. It was an intense part of my trip. I had training to prepare me (cycling to China), and I needed it. Wind and sand, multiple 100km stretches of mud bath roadworks and a lot of steep climbing. China was an assault on the senses. Beautiful, wild, vast nature, and a culture so foreign, it left…

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Central Park under wintery layers

In early March, Central Park NYC sparkled under snowy layers.  As visitors we rather enjoyed the scenic beauty, but the locals with whom we talked had had enough and were keenly anticipating warmer weather.   While those ubiquitous of species the Canada goose and mallards look happily adapted to the frigid conditions.  I was interested to learn that the ornithologists have recorded sightings of over 250 different bird species through the seasons. “Anyday now,” said one eager bird watcher, ” spring will bring with it the migrants.  Soon we will see the first warblers. ”   I imagine their song will be a welcome sign of the season’s change.

Iceland Series: Geothermal dynamics

 

It’s impressive that Iceland generates 100% of its electricity using renewable energy.  75% is derived by hydro power, and 25% is geothermal. The latter capacity grew to 951 megawatts last year from 65 megawatts in 2000, (according to data compiled by Bloomberg news).  It also provides 87% of it’s demands for hot water and heating using geothermal energy.    It’s dynamic, this belching landscape steaming with fumeroles venting sulpherous gas.  While hot springs are dotted all over and evil-smelling mud pools hubble and bubble.

It’s fascinating to discover that in geological terms Iceland as a landmass is considered young – a mere 20 million years in the making. But, sitting on a geologic hot spot on the mid-Atlantic ridge where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are gradually drifting apart, has catastrophic effect.  The tear through the crust is allowing magma to well upwards towards the surface, perculating, waiting for an opportunity to vent.  One can’t help but feel that Iceland is at the mercy of some violent tempestous beast, a fiery dragon living beneath a white counterpane of ice.

For the population, (320,000) the threat of living with such natural disaster must be quite unnerving.  Yet after the economic collapse of 2008 and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in 2010, there appears to be a wry stocism judging from this slogan ” Don’t mess with us, we may not have the cash, but we have the ash”.

The effect on the land is evident in the form of lava fields, basaltic rock, rhyolite or hyaloclastite formations of extraordinarily odd shapes.   A whole different ecosystem exists specific to the lava, and hotsprings.  The green algae, Cyanidum cadarium grows at a scalding temperature between 40 – 50°C and creates bright green streaks in steam vents.  The ancient bacteria, Archaea is apparently the most common, and is considered to be one of five of the earth’s oldest organisms.  Nature rules with an upper hand in this land.

 

 

 

Iceland Series: Birds, Birds, Birds.

Iceland has some three hundred recorded bird species.  It’s extraordinary – some areas teem with birds – thousands of them.  Whenever we stopped the car, the rush of bird calls were indicative of the high activity, the haste in getting through the breeding season.  As we travelled the ring road we noticed the varying stages of nesting, and chick rearing.  The seabird colonies were the most impressive, guillemots, fulls, fulmars,  puffins, arctic terns.

Here are some of the stars of the show: