We were woken at 7 by a stacatto stutter, loud and close. It sounded as if we were under mortar attack, but it turned out to be a car backfiring. All was well. We peddled all day along the same road (the same road we’ve been on since Xi’an, the endless Highway 312, but today it felt more the same than the other days), and made it to Hefei in time to find a China Post. I despatched some long promised postcards. When I say that we found a China Post, of course what I mean is, Nick found a China Post, and then flagged me down as I came by a few minutes later. I would have cycled on obliviously (N: ‘I sometimes wonder if you would just keep going to Shanghai if I didn’t stop you’). We then found a binguan below a bypass, where we watched a stupendously boring documentary about a Highway 308 (a paltry rival of our Highway 312) and went foraging for dinner, where we met a man who offered to take us out to lunch the next day. Could he do dinner? No, he wanted to take us out to lunch. After a hurried conference, we decided we could make it to Nanjing in two days starting after lunch, an we surrendered to our stomachs.

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