Camp Memling is a lovely campsite, especially the park filled with tall and matured trees next to it. Maybe that’s why it was a little colder than usual. Today was time to change direction to Roubaix, France by way of Kortijk, a small Belgian town almost on the French border where I would certainly have to stop for the night.
It was a late start for me today, taking my time packing up, talking to fellow campers ….
After relocating to the tents-only site.
Yes, that is a mini coffee press on the table:) Little luxuries like can help start the day on the right note
These 4 French boys were quite hilarious...using pet-food bowls to eat their cereals.
I wasn't about to pass this up ... plucking an apple from the tree next to my tent.
The day before I had also been talking to another cycle-tourer at the campsite, Luc, who was on the last leg of his tour which started in Denmark. His home is in Kortijk and fortunately for me, he had a proper cycling map of the area. He was kind enough to write out the numbers of the cycling path points for me, all the way to just outside Kortijk where he lived in a town called Bissingen.
At first I had asked Luc if I could ride with him but according to him, ‘I’m a lonely rider…I go, I stop, I like that’. Ok, I get the point. In fact, I know just how he feels. No wonder he was so quick to give me the numbers.
It was the shortest route to Kortrijk and the scenery was downright boring, bland and uninspiring. It was also hot (almost like in Malaysia), and there was no cool wind either. Farms, farms, farms and more farms – mostly corn, except for a lovely break from yellow to purple when I passed a lavender field. The ride itself is only worth this paragraph. But…I did see a couple of interesting things.
My first 2 angels of the day...putting me on the right track to ...
- no. 70, the first of a series of numbers I had to follow to get to Kortrijk.
It started out pleasant enough
I even came across an ancient mobile home...check out the chimney.
Numbers galore ... now we're getting somewhere.
Riding through a very posh neighbourhood
Then the rest of the day was riding past farms, a lot of it yellow fields of corn
Except for this brief break of purple lavendar.
The first of 2 weddings I would pass that day.
This one was a wedding for a fireman. The wedding party immediately struck a pose when I took out my camera.
Another church later, I saw this antique bus dressed up for another wedding.
Luc’s numbered cycling paths ended at Bissingen and from there I decided to follow the main roads (in Belgium and France, you are allowed to ride on main roads, except highways, of course. Don’t even think of it in the Netherlands). When I reached Kortrijk, I set about looking for a youth hostel, as there were no campsites in this town. Here, I was surprised by the helpful, friendly nature of the Belgians.
First, it was this friendly Belgian driving a van. He stopped his vehicle and got down to help me with directions,
then it was a bus driver who shouted instructions for getting to the centre of town as he slowly passed me,
then it was this lady who sensed that I was looking for the hostel and called out to me while pointing in the direction of the hostel, ‘Sleeping? There, there.’Then she said, ‘You follow me.’ It was only a short distance but she led me there anyway. Then she told me, as we stopped there in the middle of the street, that she had adopted 8 Vietnamese children! I guess my Asian features aroused her motherly instincts and made her want to help me.
It never stops amazing me … all these wonderful people who helped a stranger in their land. I also learnt that if you stopped in your tracks and look at a map long enough, someone will eventually ask if they could help you.
I was also surprised at the size of the hostel. This was no Lonely Planet type of hostel. This was more like YMCA. I decided to take a room instead of a bed in an 8-bed dorm since it was only 9 Euros more, and I craved peace and privacy. It was a lovely room – small, spartan but clean, and most of all, the windows opened up to a lovely view of trees, not buildings.
Johann, the manager there, was just so helpful, checking me in, explaining to me where to go for dinner, explaining to me where to get the tray for the included breakfast, where the breakfast was served (in a huge multipurpose hall complete with a bar), and after I checked in, locking up my bike and things I didn't need to use, in the store-room.
The spacious multi-purpose hall also served as a cafeteria for breakfast.
Tonight, I would have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow, I head for Roubaix, France and the Velodrome Roubaix, where the Hell of the North race finishes.
I’m so excited 🙂
Distance today:: 77km
Distance to date:: 816km