Several flagship bike shops in a row shined like jewelry stores in a high-end shopping district. Merchandising was so well thought out in most with well lit displays, including floors decals with bike path symbols not just decorate, but for testing a bike indoors, taking it for a spin. Giant, Aster, Orbea, and Merida were the shops we spent time in. Super friendly staff's were a little uncomfortable with why a group of 5 English speaking American's descended upon their quiet shops. They spoke nearly no English at all and appreciated it when I approached them with my business card, and would ask for theirs. I asked if I could take photos, and checked out beautiful bikes, bike graphics, and clothing and accessories.
Turns out a small scheduling problem that could have been huge for ourselves, was solved when John worked his magic, and got us into an even better hotel after we learned original was not booked for the correct day. The alternative he found, happened to be the one where most the Pro Cyclists were staying, and whom we'd meet at the Press Conference the next day.
Mark Blacknell looks for wireless access as we wait for check-in.
Check-in was on the 4th floor, maybe the 6th, it all blurred together at this point. It was also useless to try and remember your room numbers. Luckily we'd all try to write them down when we were handed our keys, and often could remember everybody's but our own. Meeting times were agree'd to, and off we each went to try and not unpack so much as to make the early morning a chore to re-pack, and try to go wash the travel and tired eyes off w/ a quick shower and change. Often we'd gather in somebody's room to chat pre dinner, and this time it ended up mine. A quick catch up and comparing room amenities with each other, sometimes sharing a Taiwan Beer. Laughing together at the complicated lighting systems, and enlightening another as to what we learned. "Oh... that's how you connected to the internet", or "how do you flush the toilet", "How did you get your lights to turn off?" were common discussions. This pattern formed early on, and grew, as the group liked to share everything, and liked to be together. Luckily, we were usually roomed on the same floor.
Kate, Mark and Naimh hang in my room and try to connect with our worlds at home before dinner.
PARTY OF 6 FOR DINNER PLEASE
We were readying for a walk to a famous "night market" that I had heard about before the trip, and to get a "traditional meal". John found a restaurant after whisking us through a quieter than normal night market... as the rain was on and off and drizzling at this point. The local cuisine was a large flat grill that they cooked in front of you and you practically ate off of. As usual, Mark Blacknell and I were the outcasts on the end with our ever burdening request for a vegetarian meal, but I was always glad for the decision. I would nibble on fish when I felt like it, but didn't take to the mystery meat. Mark Villegas was an expert chopstick handler, and in the caring fashion that we all started to have for each other, sometimes would help me if I couldn't separate something out, and manage to serve anything onto my plate. I had always thought I was not so bad at chopsticks, but put a wet greasy noodle or shiny bean in front of me, and I might accidentally catapult it into your eye. Separating fish from skin was my most ungraceful, so usually I just didn't try.
This meal was fun, the cooks very local and between their cell phone calls and lack of interaction, I think they added more oil to the process. My belly was not happy as we walked back, as the grease was landing in my belly, we each retired to our glamorous rooms, to digest in our privacy, and get ready for the big "Press Conference" day in the morning. Bags packed and down to the check out by 8 or something like that. So breakfast at 7 or 7:30. They all blend together, but all of the morning calls seemed too early - especially with bags packed.