Delicate pinks and soft pastel blues paint the skies with horizons fading. Occasional bats and swallows swooping and darting for a meal flash in my periphery. The glass surface of a still pond casts soft reflections of the surrounding trees and intermittent houses.
Life is old in rural China. Ancient villages dot the landscape. Families countless generations deep have grown and harvested tea in these hills and still do today. Traditional life still lives in this land.
The tires of our bicycles make crunching sounds on hard packed roads. We’re off the main highway and rolling along quiet tracks. Still, with lights off, we pedal on in the coming darkness. Cars rarely venture down these paths, just a small motorcycle or two.
There is palpable magic in arriving at a place you’ve never been. The warm inviting glow of interior lamps illuminates curtain-less windows and doorways left ajar. The fresh night air nips at my nose while casting a chill on any exposed skin. The smell of dinner is in the air. Our search for lodging begins.
My body begins to wind down. Warm perspiration gradually turns into a damp chill. My thoughts focus on finding a warm meal and soft bed for the evening. Muffled voice come through open doors. Shadows move in the yellow light. Finally, a welcoming face. The day’s ride comes to an end.
Tomorrow will come soon enough. Again, we will set our eyes on distant lands. On our bicycles, we will continue our journey through immense landscapes.