1,655 km of cycling - as part of a bicycle world trip - from the Lao border across Yunnan Province along the Tibetan plateau northwards, via Dali and Lijiang to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, then eastwards via Kunming and Shilin Stone Forest back to the Lao border.
11 January - 16 February 2006 / 37 days
20,451 metres in altitude
Highest cycled point: 2,607 m
Unfortunately no travel report in English available yet. Below the German report translated by Google Translate. Sorry for the partly weird and bizarre English! Proper translation is coming within the year 2018!
On January 11, I crossed the border with Steffi in messengers. After the border formalities we passed the first milestone: 3,040 km to Beijing! But that was too far for us and way too cold anyway. Therefore, we wanted to "only" make a big round through the Yunnan province and thus it should go first to the northwest to the edge of the Tibetan plateau. About 50 km behind the border a bus overtook us, braked abruptly and who jumped out of the door: Leave Hamburg! Hard to believe, he had found his stolen bike and so everything was resolved quickly: in Jinghong, we would meet and drive together to the north with three.
Three days later the time had come: Together with Steffi, Lasse and Toby and Nishma from London I cycled out of Jinghong on the 214 to the northwest. But after a few kilometers it was clear that Toby and Nishma, who were sitting the first day on their recently acquired mountain bikes in China, remained far behind. Unfortunately, we said goodbye to the two at the next stop. However, one had to continue to wait more often, because Lasse was not only because of his scarce luggage on his racing bike faster than us. Through beautiful scenery we went over forested mountains always up and down on at least initially tarred road. But after a few days we went almost alternately over cobblestones, rocky and washed out gravel and bumpy dirt road very exhausting and sometimes steep up and down. In addition, it was especially in the evening, at night and in the morning quite cold, so we bought each other in Lancang once everyone a long warm pajamas. In the morning we went hooded thick, with long cycling pants (Lasse with his pajama bottoms ...) and jacket in the cold out.
The almost unbearable and endless cobblestones could not be avoided due to a lack of lateral stripes and when we learned at a truckstop that the next 100 km would continue, Steffi and Lasse wanted to take the bus. So we squatted on the roadside and waited. After some back and forth, a minibus took us and the wheels to a checkpoint near Shuangjiang. Once there, it was already dark and not busy. But we came just in time for the change of guard! In the sting step and with much shouting was marched over the empty and actually quite insignificant intersection near the border with Myanmar. There was no hotel and after extensive discussion it came to the conclusion that we can not sleep in the military building, and after Shuangjiang it would be too far to find an open hotel. So we made ourselves comfortable on a bench at the intersection and announced death-defying that we would sleep there. Supposedly without sleeping bags in this cold a rather absurd idea, that was probably the thought of the Chinese military, because suddenly you had unexpectedly found a solution: Just 200 meters down the road to Myanmar gabs a small budget inn and proud, the problem "Having solved it, they led us there. Why not just then, we thought shaking our heads ...
The next days we went sometimes very long passes on over 2,000 meters exhausting up and down. The nights were even colder than before, as we mostly slept at over 1,500 m. We said goodbye to Lasse at a stop, because it was so much more comfortable for everyone: he did not have to wait so often and long for both of us and we did not have to hurry anymore. In Dali we wanted to meet again. But the two next nights we met by chance in the same place. One of them was Weishan, a place with a beautiful old town with traditional Chinese houses and no tourist crowds.
The next three days we spent in Dali, the capital of the Bai people. A beautiful old town, surrounded by a city wall, framed in the west by a 4,000 m high mountain range and in the east by the 250 square kilometer Erhai Hu Lake. Contrary to expectations, I should see Lasse here for the last time unfortunately.
For us, we went on to Lijiang, where I hardly moved out of bed for three days, because a big cold had caught Steffi and me. Since we had a room with TV, DVD player and free DVD selection, the flu was not so bad and we even enjoyed it a bit. But then we got out of bed, because for the first time in my life, I could celebrate New Year's Eve twice a month: It was January 28, and so it was time to party in the Chinese New Year! With Michael from the US and his Chinese friend Shaoiu and some other Chinese we drank and celebrated in a small local pub. At midnight there was finally fireworks, as one had expected four weeks ago in Laos ...
Two days later the cat was over and for two three days I wanted to walk with Steffi, Michael and Shaoiu through one of the deepest gorges on earth. 16 km, the Yangtze River flows through the breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge. With incredibly gigantic cliffs, it is over 3,900 m from the bubbling spray of the Yangtze to the 5,600 m snow-capped peaks on both sides of the gorge! For three days I hiked down the river with Steffi, Michael and Shaoiu, Juan from Chile, Marie from France and Sandor from Hungary along some very steep paths through the gorge. It went far above the river with breathtaking views and deep down over rock carved rock tunnels directly along the bubbling Yangtze. Truly three incredible days!
A short time later we went back via Dali further east towards Kunming. To escape the old bumpy road and gain time, we drove without further ado on the expressway, for bikes of course locked. Except for the wildly gesticulating toll-cashier at the driveway it did not seem to bother anyone for a few miles and we gave it a go. Shortly before the end of a 7 km long tunnel, however, stopped us a fire engine with blue lights and escorted us the last few meters from the tunnel. After that, it did not seem to interest anybody again, until 40 km later a police patrol put an end to our fast drive to the east at an exit. So for the rest of the day and the day after it would continue on the bumpy and naturally much longer and steeper old road. Then I wanted to know it again and we drove at Chuxiong back on the expressway. This time a short pleasure, because no 500 m behind the driveway was at a rest area a police checkpoint and stopped us, of course. Everything fooling did not help, after some consultations with the central escorted us a patrol car with blue lights on the lane contrary to the direction back to the exit. So again on the old road. When they met the expressway at a gas station, we said "all or nothing" and slipped on it again. Again, more than 40 km went well until we heard loud continuous honking and indignant croaking through a loudspeaker. Visibly more upset than the last few times, they steered us into a detention bay. But it was not that easy this time, because the last exit was 10 km back and the next 20 km ahead of us. After endless waiting finally an instruction from the head office: escort was once again announced. And so we went with blue lights behind us towards the next exit. Shortly before, however, a police jeep overtook us and took over the case. The other officials withdrew and the mood became much friendlier. We were offered, in the middle of the right lane of the highway mind you, something to drink cold, was very interested in our Wohin and where, chatted with us interested in our trips and apologized a thousand times for not driving on this road nunmal times likely. The district chief was now the view that the old road would be too far away and summarily ordered an ambulance, which should bring us and the wheels to the nearest intersection with the old road 60 km away. We were really happy when we agreed to some back and forth and even wanted to invite us to dinner. However, the situation was still not very appealing to us and so, in turn, we apologetically refused thanks to us and got into the naturally free ambulance. 60 km later back on the old road we cycled the last kilometers to Kunming.
Two days we spent in the city and in 80 km away and overpriced Shilin Stoneforest, a fascinating rock landscape with endless labyrinths of towering rock formations.
By the beginning of March my time in Asia was over by the flight to Sydney and so we shortened a large part of the way back to the Laotian border by taking the sleeper bus from Kunming to Jinghong. The next three days we went back the same way that we came about a month ago, back to messengers.
I loved China, it was just great! The food was good, cheap and above all a lot! The people are open, friendly, honest and interested. And the landscapes unforgettable! I would definitely come back for sure!