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Yunnan Daily Journal
Travel Writing, Blog, Travelogue
Zongdian to Mohan, China
(Oct. 30 - Dec. 24, 2005)
|Oct 30 - Nov 2
||Zongdian. We arrived in Zongdian ready for a
break. I chose a room that turned out to be very cold.
Luckily it had an electric blanket and the extra bonus of having
wireless internet. We paid 100 Y ($12) for a private room. After looking
around town I realized we could have done better.
Zongdian is being advertised as Shangri La by the
Chinese government and a lot of money has been spent on renovating the
old town. It is quite nice in old town and near old town is the
largest prayer wheel in the world. It is easier to see it at night
when it is all lit up. We met our friend Lloyd in town, happened
to bump into him in an internet cafe. He works for the World
Wildlife Fund. We were in luck because it was Saturday night and a
group of Tibetan musicians were playing in a cafe in old town. They were
excellent musicians and played Tibetan folk songs for hours. I
took a trip to the monastery in town, they appear to be renovating it as
well. I was surprised to see so many Chinese tourist visiting the
monastery, because I do not understand Chinese, it is difficult for me
to determine if they visiting the monastery for religious reasons, I did
see some people praying or if they were there to just see what it looked
like. I certainly enjoyed it, I love the smell of incense and yak
butter lamps burning. I even saw a rooster eating the seeds that
were made as an offering to Buddha. That rooster will never go
hungry. We saw a few cyclists in town but it appeared that they
came off the bus, I say this because their belongings were not strapped
very securely on their bikes. It was good to eat western food and
speak English a bit. Lloyd introduced us to the UN ambassador to
China, he was interesting and I really wondered what kinds of tasks he
had for his job and if he spoke any Chinese.
||Zongdian - Pennilun. As we left the hotel the owner
said it was all down hill from Zongdian to Qiatou (the entrance to Tiger
Leaping Gorge) while our map indicated that Qiatou was 96 km away.
We knew it was down hill but we had no idea where that would start.
It was a sunny but chilly day, so we had our coats, tights, and gortex
booties on and we needed them. The head wind did not start for
about 20 km. Hwy 214 has recently been paved and it is a nice
highway to ride, the bad thing is that it does not follow either our
Chinese, Canadian or German made maps so it is a guess as to where we
stopped. One thing is for sure, the town is right before the new dam
they are building, in fact I think the town will disappear when the dam
is finished. We are seeing more and more use of hydro power in
these deep canyons.
The truckers hotel was predictable, when she
opened the door to the room it smelled like dirty feet. Yuck. Then
I asked her where the bathroom was and went for a stroll through the
village and up the hill. Either the bathrooms are getting worse or
I just can not stomach them any more but this one was nasty. Worse than
predictable. I do not understand how people can think that awful
smell and sight is normal. We have been in a lot of developing
countries and China is by far not the poorest but it has the worst
bathrooms I have seen and smelled. This is a product of culture
not economics. Somebody please do something. Tim says you could
make a fortune selling Lysol in this country.
Ascend 490 m Descend 1200 m
||Pennilun - km 2164 hwy 214. I thought since we
were at a lower elevation that it would be warmer but it seemed to
be just as cold. It does not help that the sun is not rising until
close to 8 am. We dropped in elevation and followed the river past
a huge dam under construction. We came to the entrance of Tiger
Leaping Gorge and debated whether to go or not. We decided to move on,
we were really ready for a rest not a hike. A couple of hours down
the road we stopped for lunch. At lunch I was not feeling well and we
decided to stay the night at a nice hotel. It was brand new, new beds,
private bathroom and hot shower for 80 Y ($10) much nicer than the hotel
we stayed in Zongdian. We both went to sleep early.
Ascend 135 m Descend 765 m
||km 2164 hwy 214 - Lijiang. We have dropped out to the
highlands and Ya She Da Lay (hello in Tibetan) has been replaced with Ni
Hou (hello in Chinese. The scenery has changed as well, we rolled up and
down the short hills near the river in and out of small villages. It is
the end of the harvest season and everyone is out clearing the
fields. At the same time the winter crops are coming in such as
peas, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage. It was a pleasant warm ride and we
wondered why we did not see any other cyclists. The scenery here
is still stunning, snow capped mountains and farm fields, we could here
the farmers singing in the fields as we rode by. We saw a sign the said
Lijiang 41 km, but first we had to climb over the pass at 2735 meters
(8970 feet). We steady climbed all afternoon. About half way
up we met a local cyclist from Lijiang. He rode with us over the
top and down the other side. He did not speak much English and we
exhausted our Chinese rather quickly. Still we rode together.
We parted about 10 km from Lijiang when we stopped to buy some apples.
When we finally arrived in Lijiang we were pretty tired. We
followed the signs to old town and ended up riding around it once
because we did not realize that it was a pedestrian area we were looking
for. Many hotels were already booked but we happened to find a
nice room for 80 Yuan off of Market Square.
Ascend 1140 m Descend
|Nov 6 - 10
||Lijiang. Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1996 the area suffered an earthquake that killed hundreds of people.
The old town was reduced to rubble. Latter the UNESCO group infused the area
with enough money to rebuild the entire area. The area is closed off to
cars which makes it a pleasant area to stroll. It is also a
popular area with Chinese tourists. Old town is almost 4 square
kilometers so there are plenty of areas to explore and see how the
locals live, it is not just the shopping area which it appears to be at
I have heard some western tourists complain about the Chinese
tourists groups that are large and seem to take over the place.
Personally I like them, they are traveling and seeing their own country,
something that was not easy to do a short time ago. Most and I am not
sure how this works but, some Chinese people need traveling papers to
leave the area they live in. I have seen many bus loads of Chinese
stopped by the police to have their traveling papers checked. So when I seem
them I know it takes an effort to get there. It is also the first place
I have seen Chinese people in the western restaurants eating with a
knife and fork, I love it. Trying on each others culture can only bring
understanding between the cultures. I feel this is important
because as time marches forward China will become more and more of a
I personally enjoyed Lijiang very much, it is what I naively thought
China would look like everywhere. It is the old Chinese
architecture with stunning mountains in the background. This town
is 800 years old and was part of an old trade route. The old town
is crisscrossed with canals that once brought drinking water to the
townspeople, it is cleaner than most other towns I have been in although
I would never drink the water from the canal.
||Lijiang - Baihanchan. It was a pleasant ride back
over the mountain. About 21 km from Lijiang we turned onto a
smaller road that took us back to hwy 214. This road was the old
road into Lijiang, cobblestones are still visible at the side of the
road. I love traveling these old routes, I can just imagine the
caravans that also traveled this route carrying tea and other goods.
We slowly meandered through farm land and small villages that have been
there for who knows how long.
As we were riding slowly up hill Tim
began to have trouble shifting from one gear to another. Suddenly,
I heard a snap, Tim's rear derailleur cable had just broke. We
were far from Lijiang and decided to keep going until we found a hotel, we were riding up hill
anyway so Tim used the three gears he had. The only place that it
was a nuisance was on the flats.
Hours later we came to the cross roads town of Baihanchan, we were
back to hwy 214. We stayed in a room that was once a highway
workman's camp. It was run down and a bit dirty but the beds were cheap,
5 Y each.
Ascend 655 m Descend 635 m
||Baihanchan - Niujie (I think) Tim spent the
morning fixing his derailleur cable, I helped a little but mostly got in
the way. So we had a bit of a late start. I am so glad Tim
know how to fix these things or we would be on bus somewhere. I
ask him why the derailleur cable broke, I said, who knows, that is why I
carry spare cables. Hmm, seems to me that things break on Tim's
The temperature is perfect for riding, not to hot and not
to cold. Surprisingly, we are still wearing bike tights and coats as we
ride. The sun is warmer but the air is still cool. The road
went through rolling hills along the river, the fields are a mixture of
green and brown and all the farmers are out working in the fields all
day. Unfortunately, they are fertilizing the fields with human
waste and we can smell it as we ride by their donkey carts full of straw
mixed with well human waste. The smell is awful to say the least.
The locals do not seem to mind where I am about to gag. This is
when we as people seem to be miles apart, this is where culture teaches
you what is normal and what is not.
It is a pleasant day of riding through small villages and we catch a
glimpse of an old man with a really long white beard smoking tobacco in
a long pipe. We wave and say Ni Hou, hello and he cracks a smile,
Ah this is what I came here for, to see him, to see what life is for
him, oh what I give to hear his life story. My imagination runs
wild thinking about what he has seen in his day, but then in reality,
things probably haven't changed much for him. We arrive in a small
town and decided to get a room for the night. We paid 30 Y ($3.75)
for the night and ate dinner at the local restaurant. All the
vegetables are fresh
Ascend 570 m Descend 820 m
||Niujie - Dali. We were planning to stop in Eryuan at a
hot spring less than 15 km down the road. We rode to Eryuan and saw a
big hot spring/spa. Tim said go ahead we can splurge so we went into the
place and the said it cost 300 Y ($37.50) for the night.
Yikes that is a bit high but the place was awesome with different pools
with different temperatures. Well when it came right down to it
they tried to gauge us and jacked the price so high we said no thanks
and left. So we wasted a good part of the morning looking for a hot
spring. Of course it was just under our nose but we decided that we were
close enough to Dali to just ride in. So Tim put the hammer down on the
flats and we cruised at 27 to 30 km an hour. I was out of breath just
keeping up with him.
We stayed on 214 all the way into Dali and 3 km
from town the road turned to dirt. Agh, slowed to a crawl.
We finally arrived in old town and found a room at Old Dali Inn No. 5
for 70 Y ($8.75) a night and that included breakfast, free internet,
free laundry, and free movies every night. We have arrived back in the
I spent the next couple of days lounging, I enjoy meeting people who
are traveling too, I also worked on chores like laundry. I decided
that I would go into Kunming to get our Visas for Laos and Thailand.
Tim is going to stay here and work on the web page and newsletter.
|Nov 15 - 19
||Kunming. I went to Kunming by the night train, it
cost 105 Y ($13.15) one way. I arrived early in the morning and
took a bus into town. I missed my stop and ended up walking to the
Camellia Hotel where I planned on staying. I passed a large park
on the way to the hotel and a large group of people were doing Tai Chi
with swords on one side of the street and on the other people had parked
their bikes between them and were using them as a net while playing
badminton. Kunming is a very modern city but pleasant because it
does not have the pollution that other Chinese cities have.
The Laos and Burmese consulate are in that Camellia Hotel and the
Thai Consulate is 100 m down the road. I stayed in a dorm bed for
30 ($3.75) a night. I got our Thai visas first because it
only took one day to get it. I paid 200 Y ($25) each for a 60 day
tourist visa. I then got our Laos visas for 330 Y ($41.25) each
for a 30 day tourist visa. It was much easier to get our visas
then I thought.
While in Kunming I had the pleasure to met many interesting people.
I met a Canadian couple, Larry and Sybil who work in the United Arab
Emirates or UAE for short. I asked about what it was like to live
in as Muslim country. This is something I know nothing about and
will someday spend some time learning about the region and also about
the religion. I also met Teba from Spain and Lola a Mexican
American from California. We had great in depth political
discussions about everything from how China is changing to immigration
policies in the USA. I soon realized how starved I have been for
female company, traveling with Tim is great but he has a male point of
view and women just look at things differently. Since I have been
out in the sticks I really have not had much of an opportunity to talk
politics so it was nice to get a finger on the pulse of things. It
was interesting to here about the US from people who came from another
country. I was sorry to see Teba and then Lola leave, I hope to
keep in touch with these two and see where they end up in the future.
|Nov 20 - 28
||Dali. I took the day train back to Dali from
Kunming. I woke up with a sore throat that would turn into a cold
later on. Well that is one of the downfalls of staying in a dorm
with eight beds, if someone is sick, it spreads easy and a Korean girl
was very sick while I was in the dorm.
I am ready to move on, the personal habits
of the Chinese are getting to me. I took the train from Kunming and
everyone was spitting on the floor and I caught one young mother holding
her young son over the sink and letting him pee in it. Hey I am suppose
to wash my hands there! I passed on the opportunity.
When I arrived back from Kunming Tim was
sick. He had the runs but he also did not have an appetite (so
unlike Tim). Then he complained (so unlike Tim) about stomach cramps
and feeling nauseous. I decided to get out my little health book and
look up his symptoms. Ut OH! by putting everything together we
determined that Tim had a PARASITE yucky. Suddenly he was having rotten
egg burps and unbelievable gas (I am sure you like all these details).
I went to the Chinese pharmacy and asked for a medicine that they did
not have. So I finally looked up the Chinese word for parasite and they
gave me an antibiotic called albendazole which is used in China and
Europe but not as common in the States. So we started deworming Tim,
that evening he had it coming out both ends, poor guy. It is the
sickest I have seen him since we left on this trip. Another day of
antibiotics and he is feeling better. In the mean time my cold has now
turned into a chest cold. Doesn't sound so bad compared to Tim so I can
not complain. Tim already looks like he has lost weight. So our plan
is to stay here until we both get better. I read that giardia is
very contagious so we had our room cleaned every day and we both washed
our hands all the time. Well I should have followed my instincts and
started the antibiotic when Tim did because 3 days later after my cold
went away I was sick with the same symptoms as Tim had, same symptoms
different order, same stomach pain and vomiting. Yucky. So here we sit
in Dali sick as dogs. We shall wait until we are well before we
get moving again. I can not get out of bed at the moment so the
thought of riding is tough although I feel like I have been here
forever. On the plus side, I have been able to read, I just
finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, an excellent read.
At least we have time on our Visa so we are not so much in a rush.
||Dali - Xiaguan 2000 m (6560 feet). We left around noon today, it was
sunny and slightly windy. As we approached Xiaguan and moved
around the edge of the mountains we were hit with gale force winds.
Oh man, I do not have the strength to push on thorough this wind.
As we entered town my stomach was hurting and I felt like I may fall off
the bike the next time a gust of wind hit me. So I said to Tim,
lets call it a day and find a hotel. We did. I was so weak I
took a nap. It is a drag getting sick on the road.
||Xiaguan - Weishan 1750 m (5,740 feet). From Xiaguan we climbed over
the mountains through a pass at 2400 meters. At the pass it was
gale force winds and we had to pedal to get down the road even through a
steep section. As we turned corners we began to get away from the
wind. At the bottom of the hill we were in a fertile valley where the
locals travel by horse cart. The carts had three rows and
sometimes they were filled with people and sometimes they were filled
with goods from the market including big pigs. We passed the
market and it was a flurry of activity. Pigs, goats, burros and
fresh vegetables were for sale. The market was winding down so
everyone was leaving. We passed many farmers walking home from the
market with their pigs, mama pig followed by a group of baby piglets.
It must have been piggy day because we passed at least ten groups of
piggys and they took up the whole road and stopped traffic. I got
a kick out of watching the farmer chasing his pigs out from under the
trucks. Tim liked the baby burros the best, they took up the whole
road too. Priorities are just different on market day.
coasted into Weishan around 4:00 pm. 4 hours on the bike was
enough for us today. We are both still weak from being ill with
parasites. We even decided to eat in and had noodles instead of
We got a knock on the door about 7:30 pm. It was the owner of
the hotel, she was trying to tell me something but she did not speak any
English. She kept telling me that this was a hostel not a hotel.
Hmm. I immediately knew what she was getting at but I claimed that
I did not understand. She was telling me that she could not take
foreigners. This is a first, usually they tell you when you ask to
see the room. Hmm. I sensed trouble was coming soon. Tim and
I showed her our passport but she did not want to see it. She
really wanted us to leave and we really wanted to stay. It was
already after dark and where in the world were we suppose to go.
So we said thank you and good night and shut the door. Not
10 minutes later the police showed up. Tim said let me handle
this, really Tim I would be more than glad to let you talk to the
police. So he showed them our passport and they kept saying no no.
Tim said no what. They could not explain in English so they went
and got an English teacher to translate. She said that this was a
small Inn and we could not stay here. Tim asked why, she said this is a
small inn and we can not stay here. Tim said that we have stayed
in small Inns all over China and they were ok with us. She said we
had to go to the Weishan Hotel down the street. This is when Tim
pulled out our flyer in Chinese that explained that we were traveling
around the world. This distracted the police for about 5 minutes
and then they said that we had to leave. Tim said No I do want to
leave, we checked in and have been here for 4 hours. The police
said, you have to leave, now. Tim said no I want to talk to the American
embassy in Beijing and I want you to write down your name here on this
piece of paper. There was silent, I was thinking we were going to
be thrown out at any moment, I had visions of us setting up our tent in
the dark in some farmers field. Suddenly, the police produced a
form. They said fill out the form, hmm does this mean we can stay.
They agreed that we could stay if we filled out the form. The form asked
us for the normal stuff like our passport number and visa number
however, what was different was that the form said it was for
registration of aliens. Yup that is us, aliens from mars.
Holy Cow! Tim you can sure can work miracles sometimes. I am glad
that Tim handled this because if I were the one talking we would have
packed up and been in another hotel thinking how silly. We won the
battle this time, but we get to leave tomorrow. What is it like
for the local guy who can not leave, what kind of oppression do they
face? The whole thing left us feeling uneasy, we do not like to
see oppression, it is a disturbing thing to see and experience.
||Weishan - Nanjian 1335 m (4379 feet). We took our
time today knowing that we would have a short day to Nanjian the next
large town. We are starting to recover our strength but our endurance is
not that good either. It is amazing to me how long it takes to get
into shape and how quickly we fall out of shape. The road was
nicely paved and we sailed into Nanjian in just under 2 hours time.
We found a nice room for 60 Y ($7.50) on the north side of town.
We decided to have movie night, a rare occasion and we watched Batman
Begins on the computer, a DVD I picked up in Kunming for 15Y ($1.88).
As we pedaled along I could not help but think about last nights
incident with the police. Tim and I we have so much freedom. Free
to visit almost any country we like, free to travel from town to town in
China, free to decide where we want to live and what kind of work we
want to do. As I travel in Asia I have learned not everyone has
the freedoms that we do. I do not take my freedom for granted
||Nanjian -Baotai 1700 m (5576 feet) We knew that we would
be climbing for most of the day today. We had to climb out of this
valley and drop down into the next. We have a write up on this
area done by an English couple Mark and Ju.
The url is
http://www.mark-ju.net/. We steadily climbed to a pass at 2050 m
(6724 feet) and
descended down to Baotai.
Stayed in a room just above the pig sty (no kidding). It was
the only room we could find near the intersection of 214 and the town
It turned out that town was pretty small and we did not have a huge
selection of road houses to pick from. The room was typical, two
beds in a small room and the bathroom was down by the pigs. These
guys were huge and snorted and grunted at me as I ran to the bathroom.
Talk about noisy sleepers, I heard those pigs snoring and screeching all
night long. One of them must of been having a bad dream because it
sounded like a women screaming.
ascend 815 m (2673 feet) descend 500 (1640 feet)
||Baotai - Jingdong 1100 m (3600 feet). We double
checked with the owner of the Road House we stayed at and she said that
the turn to Jingdong was down the road 1 km not at the turn with the old
sign that said Jingdong (in Chinese) 82 km It turned out that the
road to Jingdong was 2.2 km down the road. It was pavement all the way.
It was a pleasant ride to Jingdong and shorter than our map said.
We went from dry desert like areas to semi-tropical with banana plants
along the side of the road. I am glad that it is winter because we
are still wearing a long sleeve and tights. Although not for much
longer. I was amazed at how cool it was in the shade. As we
progressed down the valley water started pouring in from the sides and
less and less farming in areas. Just before Jingdong the entire
area was farmed. The people seem to be a little more friendly here.
Picture of Tim holding a bamboo tobacco bong.
Jingdong we found a hotel and I looked at the room as usual. What
was unusual was the price, a large room with two double beds, a hot
shower and squat toilet for 30 Yuan ($3.75). I took the room and I
wondered what the catch was. Turned out that the family was very
nice and there was no catch. Well maybe. At about 7:30 in the
evening we had a knock on the door. Hmm. can we guess who this is.
I opened the door to the owner and what looked like a ten year old boy.
He handed me a registration for alien form (a form that the police
usually have), by now I have seen a few of these. I filled it out
with information from Tim's passport and told him we were planning on
staying two nights.
||Jingdong. We took the day off and went searching
for the internet. It was easy to find but they would not let us
connect our computer. Figures. We did find a nice restaurant
across the street and had a great lunch for 8 Y ($1) for the both of us.
The locals have not seen too many foreigners and we were entertaining
the only baby in the place. Tim did not mean it but he scared the
little guy and made him cry. Every one started laughing and the baby
We were visited by the young boy from last
night. He came alone and spoke more English than the night before.
He was pleasant and wanted to know how long we were staying. I
told him one more night. He said welcome to Jingdong and left.
||Jingdong - Zhenyuan. The owner came into our room
early acting like he was bring us hot water and picking up the old
thermoses but he was looking around like he was looking for something.
Hmm. The previous day he did not do this. There was nothing
to see because we were already packed. When we were bringing our
things down the stairs four men in suits and ties came over and started
asking Tim and the owner questions. Like how much did he pay for
the room, where are you going, where are you from ect. These are
normal questions but the manner in which they were asked was a bit like
an interrogation. We told them we were going to have breakfast
across the street before we left. The restaurant across the street
was empty except for us. We had people watching us. A man
wearing a Chinese Communist Crest on his belt buckle came in grabbed a
cup of tea, took a sip, looked over at us and left. Another well
dressed man walked by the restaurant, checked us out, walked a little
farther, then turned around and came back to take another look. I waved
and smiled and he put his head down and walked away. Their attire
and mannerisms did not fit in with the locals. In the mean time we
watched a military vehicle go into the hotel we stayed at and leave 15
minutes later. Geez, I hope we did not get the owner of the hotel
in trouble for letting us stay there.
It was nice to leave town and
get out on the open road. The ride was relatively flat with a few
small hills. We stayed near the river most of the ride. When
we arrived in Zhenyuan we decided to stay in the hotel that lets in
foreigners. The Zhenyuan hotel was reasonably priced at 70 Y
|| Zhenyuan - Xinfu. We woke to a very cloudy
morning and wondered if it was going to rain. I would have been
nice to stay in the comfortable room for another day but we both felt
the urge to move on. We packed and headed farther south down the
road. The British couple Mark and Ju headed east from town towards
Laoshan. We are going south towards Xinfu. The road has been
paved so far. We decided to ride a half day since we found a nice
hotel in town for 30 Y ($3.75) with a private bathroom and hot shower.
Tim and I are both weary of the road house since we got parasites a few
weeks back. The road house are still out there but dirty sheets
and rooms get tiring.
Again, the road was relatively flat. It has
definitely gotten more humid. Today is the first day that I rode without
tights in a very long time. The scenery has changed to more
tropical with butterflies, birds and insects every where and oh do not
forget the water buffalo.
Walkin the Water Buffalo.
||Xinfu 930 m (3050 feet) - Wenhuajie 1200 m (3930 feet).
Again the road was paved the entire way except for a few landslide
areas. The first 18 k was relatively flat, had a great lunch
there. Then the road began to climb to the first pass at 1165 m
and down to a valley at 1045 m. The second pass was at 1450 m.
Wenhuajie is small but we found a room and just below our room was the
internet. We were pretty much ignored most of the time we were in
town and when we left we were given suspicious looks. The owner
of the hotel did not speak much Chinese but we managed to get dinner and
||Wenhuajie - Puer 1340 m (4395 feet). Every once
in a while we will make a bad decision about whether to push on or stay
the day. Today we decided to ride but probably should have stayed
in our hotel room. It was not raining at the beginning of the day
but as we approached our first pass at 1450 m it began to rain.
The rain ruined the nice 12 km down hill. At 26 km we intersected
highway 213 the main road to Jinghong and the border. We stopped
36 km from our start and had lunch in a truck stop/mechanic. Oh
the food was delicious. We had potatoes and onions, tofu and soy
sauce, and barbeque pork with chili pepper. Maybe I was just hungry from
riding in the rain. We were 23 km from Puer, at this point we did
not have much of a choice but to ride on. How hard could 23 km be
anyway. Well 3 km from our lunch stop I was riding along and
shifted into a lower gear, honest I did not crank hard, well my chain
broke while going up hill in the rain, lovely. Tim fixed it in a
matter of minutes. Yeah. Now my chain was 4 links shorter,
boo. I guess I really buggered it up. I suspect that the
break was coming because I mangled it a bit yesterday when I stood while
climbing. Our pass turned out to be at 1600 m (5248 feet).
We rode up the hill in a fog and rode down the hill in a heavy rain
storm. I do not like riding in the rain, the roads get slick and
visibility is low. We arrived in Puer looking like a couple of
drenched rats. There are not too many hotels in town, we jumped
into the Puer Hometown hotel for 60 Y ($7.50). Not bad for a hotel
room with a western toilet and hot shower.
ascend 945 (3100 feet)
descend 865 (2837 feet)
||Puer. We scouted the streets of Puer looking for
an internet cafe, we finally found one and they let us connect the
computer. Luxury. It rained most of the morning and stopped
raining later in the day. We really need a sunny day to do our
laundry so we may stay another day in Puer.
||Puer. We got our sunny day to do laundry.
The ladies at the hotel let me use the big industrial sized machine to
do our laundry. We sent our dirty clothes through the machine
twice. Riding in the rain is dirty business. Then they
cleared off the best line (the one in the sun) on the roof for me.
Then they went searching for hangers because I had so many big (Tim's)
clothes. This may sound like an ordinary encounter but in reality
the whole scene occurred with hand gestures, none of the women spoke
Chinese or English. They knew we had arrived by bicycle and that
was enough for them (I guess). It was humbling to me to be treated
so kindly. We now had clean clothes to ride in. The hotel
turned out to be a little noisy because of the proximity to the highway.
However, the restaurant across the street was fantastic. We had
every meal there and it never totaled more than 20 Y ($2.50).
||Puer 1250 m (4100 m) - Simao 1250 m (4100
m) . The morning fog cleared off around 11:00 am. We headed south
out of town on highway 213. The first pass was at 1575
m (5166 feet) the we descended some and then back up to 1625 m (5330
feet). After that pass it was a quick 8 km to town. When we passed
the toll gate the road turned to an expressway with a no bikes sign so
we took the only road we could to the right. At the first traffic
light we turned left and followed the bike lane into the center of town.
We stopped at a cluster of 3 hotels and checked into one for 50 Y
($6.25) per night. When we checked in they originally gave us
separate rooms, I found this odd. Later, I realized that the area
was frequented by businessmen looking to meet the local women.
740 m (x feet) descend 740 m ( x feet)
||Simao - Dadugang. The first pass was small and we
were quickly descending into another valley the bottom was at 880
m (2886 feet). It was not raining but the road was wet and slick.
We could see a shinny film on the road and when I rounded a corner too
fast I started sliding sideways. I didn't wreck but I slowed down
after that and stayed to the dry pavement when I could. Tim was
experiencing the same thing.
We could now see a new expressway going
in and some parts were already finished. Just outside of the town of
Fengpo we passed a gate where a women was letting cars on to the
expressway that was under construction. She assured us that it was
finished on the side we were riding on. We happily left the small
congested road behind. As we rode hwy 213 meandered back and forth
below us. If you get stuck on that road you will be descending and
ascending more that what we recorded. We rode through 6 tunnels
luckily they were short. This took the climbing and descending out of
the day. We also witnessed horrendous traffic jams on highway 213.
The road had deteriorated to a mud bog in some places. It would
have been a mess riding on that road.
Hwy 213 is a muddy mess, note the truck driver is on the wrong side of the road,
this is common in China.
We did get our 1 km of sticky clay mud that we had to ride through.
Some how I managed to lose my computer in ride across the mud. I
thought it was gone forever. Tim quickly went back looking for it.
An hour later he picked it up out of the mud. I was elated to have
it back, it was a little beat up but it still worked. We had to
push on to find a hotel it was now getting late in the day. We spoke
with an engineer and he told us to take a right in 5 km and then it was
7 km into town. So at 65.7 km from Simao we took a right turn off the
highway. We rode through tea plantations. So this is where
they grow all the tea in China.
Tea and more tea, the small white specks are people in the field
We T-ed with hwy 213 and turned left. A kilometer from that
turn we encountered a gas station and a hotel. We stopped at the
hotel for the night. The owner tried to charge us 100 Y ($12.50)
for the night and we were about to leave and he dropped the price to 50
Y ($6.25) it was really worth 30 Y ($3.75) but we were too tired to
Ascend 745 m ( 2444 feet) descend 710 m ( 2329 feet)
||Dadugang 1330 m (4362 feet)- Mengyang 720 m (2361
feet). I was tempted to talk Tim into riding back to the
expressway, in hindsight I think that would have been a good idea.
We rode into Dadugang to have breakfast, it is a rough and tumble town,
I think we made a good choice on hotels. As we climbed out of town
the road was in good shape for a couple of kilometers. Then we hit
a stretch of mud and potholes, very slow going. Why the Chinese
rip up the main road while they are building an expressway I will never
know, it makes no sense to have the only road a muddy mess. We
passed many broken down trucks, it seems that they run their vehicles
into the ground here. Maintenance is not something we see much of
here, the roads are rarely maintained, the building hardly ever see new
paint and we have see many houses with grass or plants growing out of
them. Anyway back to the road. We finally began to descend
and the road improved in places, but again the road was covered with oil
where it was wet, could that oil be coming from broken down trucks or
was it sprayed on the road, it is hard for me to tell, all and all it
has the same result. So when we saw a place where we could get
back on the expressway we did. Once again, I am glad we did.
We rode the rest of the way to Mengyang on the express way. It
dropped us off about 2 km from town. We stopped for lunch along
the way and were overcharged for food and rice and they gave us cold
water instead of the customary hot tea. I had to ask for the tea.
We are back in the zone. The zone for me is where tourists have
frequented and the two tier pricing level is used. That is, double the
price for foreigners. If you do not know better you pay the
foreigner price. Most of China is not like this, I have found that
I do not have to bargain away from the tourist areas. This tells
me that we (foreign tourists) create our own overpricing.
We had to decide whether to push on to Jinghong or stay a night in
Mengyang. We decided we would stay, getting into town late and
tired makes for bad decisions. We rode around Mengyang looking for a
hotel and we were pointed down the street and down the street. We
finally found the hotel. I asked the price and it was 40 Y ($5)
but when I paid with a 50 Yuan note she changed the price. Ugh.
scammed again. I tried and tried to get my 10 Yuan but to no
avail. She pretended she did not understand me. Hey, I have
used that very pretense myself, so I just let it go. I need to
gear up for the zone again. We walked around town after dark and
it became apparent that it was a party town. It reminded me of a border
town which led me to look at our map and that is when I realized we were
not that far from Burma (known as Myanmar now) and Laos.
Ascend 310 m (1017 feet)
descend 830 m ( 2722 feet)
||Mengyang - Jinghong 470 m (1541 feet). We left
town and climbed over a small pass and descended down to the Mekong
river. Jinghong was a bit dusty on the east side of the river but
the west side of the river was a well manicured town, except the part
that Lonely Planet sends you to. I guess this is why they give it
a bad rap. We went to the Jingyong Fandian, it is in a nice part
of town. It is a very large hotel with average rooms, the water is
hot and our room had a western toilet. We paid 60 Y (7.50) per
night. The price on the wall says 120 Y ($15) a night, do not pay
I like the town myself. It is a real mix of culture. Most
of the signs are in Dai and Chinese and I think I see some Lao too.
Some women are dressed in long sarongs with matching tops, very elegant
looking. Then there are the Chinese youth who have the wildest hair
styles and I wonder where the sense of dress comes from. I do love to
see this though. I can see that this area is usually very
hot, at the moment it is cool, we still need a jacket at
night. Night time is when this place comes alive. Maybe we will
check out the night life another night.
Wide streets and bike lanes (this is common in all Chinese cities, however,
palms are not so common.
Ascend 340 m (1115 feet)
descend 545 m (1787 feet)
|Dec 15 - 17
||Jinghong. The first chore on the agenda is
laundry. I tried to find where they did the laundry in the hotel but
could not find it. I finally asked about doing laundry and they
wanted to charge 4 Y per piece, lets see that would be quite expensive
for us to do our laundry. We have all our street and bike clothes to
was, we would be paying more than $20 for laundry. So we washed
our clothes in the tub and hung it on the top floor. We had so
much laundry we had to do two different loads.
We tried to connect our
computer at the internet cafe and were told that we could not, it was
not allowed. We went downstairs to have lunch at a restaurant and
found a wireless connection. We posted photos and checked email, a
couple days in a row. On the morning we were leaving we tried to
connect through our wireless connection and we were blocked. We
just walked to another part of the computer complex and connected to
another wireless network.
We spent a morning at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Flower and Plant
Garden. The cost of admission was 40 Y ($5), a bit steep when only
a few years ago it was 10Y ($1.25). But we enjoyed the gardens, it
was a cloudy and cool morning so we could explore the entire gardens.
I especially enjoyed the tropical flowers.
I was told that this is called a butterfly plant.
||Jinghong - Menghan 470 m (1541 feet). Tim had a
cold building and we debated whether to leave today or not. We
decided we could always ride a half day. The road was paved and
the terrain slightly rolling. It was a pleasant ride under the
shady palms along the Mekong river. It is the dry season so the
Mekong is not flowing as high, it looks like it is at least 6 meters (20
We will have a personal tour guide of sorts for the next
6 months or so as we ride towards Singapore. We will be going
along the route blazed by Wayne and Kristina Carpenter. They started in
Singapore in January 2005 and ended in Jinghong in July 2005. They
have provided a detailed description of each of their riding days on
they journal located at XXX.
||Menghan - Menglun 535 m (1755 feet). We had a
bowl of noodles for breakfast and soon set off for Menglun. We
started a little late, thinking it would warm up. It never did. I
rode in my tights and jacket for the first hour or so. We stopped
at the Pratta thanks to a note in Wayne and Kristina's journal.
It is a bit dilapidated but has a enticing history. It is the home
of the Dai people the ancestral home. I ran in and took a few
snapshots while Tim stayed with the bikes. I would have liked to
have rolled the bikes in but the gate was closed and where we could walk
in it was covered in broken glass, not an appealing place to push the
bikes. We continued riding through rubber tree groves and small
Dai villages. We saw a very nice village next to a small river and
then we noticed that the highway is coming through the area. That
village will be moved, the buildings torn down and the highway built. I
wonder what kind of compensation the villagers will get, if anything at
We continued on the Menglun, we passed the Xishuangbanna
Biosphere UNESCO site and thought about going inside. We felt that
the price was too high at 30 Y ($3.75) and we were concerned about where
to store our bikes. We quickly rode into Menglun from the UNESCO
site and found a room for 40 Y ($5). We had a bit of a
disagreement with the owners about putting our bikes in the room but we
eventually won out and put them in the room.
The ride - we climbed to
our first pass at 970 m (3181 feet) however, it was a false summit, we
climbed two or three more passes and reached the final pass at 1035 m
(3395 feet). Then we coasted down to Menglun at 625 m (2050 feet).
Ascend 445 m (1460 feet)
descend 415 m (1361 feet)
||Menglun - Mengyuan 575 m (1886 feet)
Thanks to Wayne
and Kristina's journal we know that there is a hotel in Mengyuan.
Having the guess work taken out of the day certainly makes it easier.
The scenery is stunning, jungle on both sides of the road.
The pressure change over night changed our altimeter reading from 625
m (2050 feet) to 575 m (1886 feet).
Ascend 960 m (3149 feet)
descend 835 m (2738 feet)
|Dec 21 - 22
||Mengyuan - Mengla 585 m.
Another nice riding day through the jungle. We are now riding
along a nature reserve and I was on the look out for wildlife. I
was not disappointed. We turned a corner and I saw what I thought
were monkeys in the trees. It turned out to be codomudi's or
something like that. We pulled off the side of the road to watch
the three play in the tree tops. Just as we were settling in for
the show and car came around the corner and honked its horn at least 5
times. It was a drivers education car and all the occupants were
smiling and waving at me. I am usually very friendly but this time
I wanted them to go away so I could watch the wildlife. Instead,
the wildlife left because of all the noise. Ah well, they did not
realize that they were scaring the animals. We sat and enjoyed the
birds that remained in the trees.
Not an hour later that same drivers education car was coming up a
hill behind me. I could see the front right bumper near me and
then the driver slammed on his brakes when a truck came barreling around
the corner. Then he popped the clutch when he tried to get going
again. Ah the pains of learning to drive a car. At least he did
not hit. me.
The ride - it was 13.1 k to the first pass at 1085 m ( 3560 feet) then
down to a valley at 725 m (2378 feet). The second pass is at k 31 at
1080 m ( 3542 feet). Then it was a nice 12 k downhill to Mengla at
We stayed in Mengla for a rest day and tried to connect to the
Internet. No such luck, once again we were not allowed to connect.
China has gotten very frustrating with the internet. We could not find a
wireless connection so we could not get around it this time.
Mengla is a nice modern town with lots of shopping. I will miss
the ease of buying things in China.
Ascend 890 m (2919 feet)
descend 910 m (2985 feet)
||Mengla - Mohan 840 m. The ride was rolling with a
gentle climb up to Mohan. They are building an expressway to the
border with Laos and I know in a few months time this road will be a
mess. But for now it is in relatively good shape. Soon
we will be leaving China, I have a lot of business to catch up on.
It has been very difficult to fax, phone, and send email in the last month or so
( I even tried to find a postcard to send and there were none).
So I have put a lot of this off until Laos where these activities are
not controlled by the government. I have never experienced such
paranoia from a government before.
||Mohan. A day off to catch up on laundry and other
chores. There was a washing machine at the hotel but the guy in
charge did not let me use it. I was sad that we had to do a huge
amount of laundry by hand. He gave me a large bucket to do our
wash, yeah, thanks. It seemed everyone else in the hotel could use
the machine. I even offered to pay, no dice. Some days the
simplest things can be so difficult. Well the sun never really
came out today so our clothes did not dry and got a sour smell to them.
The wet climate of the jungle can be a tough place to do laundry.
SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to 9-15-06
December 16- January 16, 2005
Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Poipet to Tien Bien, Cambodia
Best Place to see Pictures
Cambodia Thumbnail Pictures
(January 16 - February 17 , 2005)
Tinh Bien to Cau Ganh, Vietnam
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Best Place to see Pictures
South Vietnam Thumbnails
May 22 - June 27, 2005
Guizhou and Hunan,
Zhangjiajie National Park China
Best Place to see Pictures
Pictures of Guizhou, China.
(July 16 - Sept. 3, 2005)
Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, China.
Beijing to Xian, Shaanxi, China
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail pictures from Inner
Full size Picture
Beijing to Jining, Inner Mongolia.
Grasslands of Jining, to Wuchuan (near) Hohhot
to Bautou, Inner Mongolia, China
Bautou to Yulin, Shanxi, China with Photos from Genghis Khan's Mausoleum.
- Yulin to
Yanan, Shaanxi, China
Chairman Mao's Headquarters and Residence in Yanan, China.
- Yanan to
Xian, Shaanxi, China.
Terracotta Warriors #1
Terracotta Warriors #2.
(Sept. 4 - Oct. 29, 2005)
Chengdu, to Zongdian, China
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Sichuan Thumbnail Photos
Full size Picture
- Giant Panda
Breeding Center #1
- Red Panda
in Chengdu, Sichuan, China #2
Chengdu to Kangding.
Sichuan, located in Southwestern China.
Mugecuo Lake near Kangding, Sichuan, China.
Xinduqiao to Tibetan Home Stay.
Home Stay to 4718 meter (15,475 feet)
Litang, Sichuan, China.
Litang Lamasary Tibetan Buddhist Monk Monastery
to Sumdo, Tibet
- Sumdo to
Xiangcheng to Derong, Tibet.
Sichuan Province to Tibetan Shangri-La, (Zongdian)
(Oct. 30 - Dec. 24, 2005)
Zongdian to Mohan, China
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Yunnan thumbnail photos
(July - Sept. 15, 2006)
Malaysia #3 and Singapore.
Taiping, Malaysia to
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Malaysia #3 and Singapore
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground