Monday, October 31, 2005

Day 59. Sapa, Vietnam

No kilometres or any of that nonsense.

I'm going to try a DIY fix of my freehub, but I'm a bit nervous as to how long it will hold for. In any case, I'll stay here in Sapa for a few days to give the bike a bit of a break.

Thanks to the Magazine Formerly Known as Voyage (and now known as Asia And Away, which has too many A's in it for my liking), I am staying in the lap of luxury here, at the Victoria Hotel. It is very amusing. A woman comes around at 6pm every evening to 'turn down your bed', as if I wouldn't be able to climb in otherwise. Even better, they fold down the end of the toilet roll for you, in case otherwise you might cut yourself on the sharp corners.

Perhaps this is everyday life in 4-star world. All a bit odd after my usual sort of lodging-place, where 'service' means they might have changed the sheets this year.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Day 58 - Laocai to Sapa

Start: Laocai, Vietnam 104 deg E, 22 deg N
End: Sapa, south-west of Laocai
Distance: 37 km
Time: 4'02"
Avg: 9.2 k/h
Max: 34 k/h
Total: 4168 km
Total riding days: 47
Roadkill: Broken freehub.
Riding hours: 0830 - 1300

Uphill the whole way. Rain and mist and cloud the whole way. At least it wasn't a hot climb. Cold at the top. And a broken freehub to go with it all. Bit of a problem, that, no more bicycling for me until I get that fixed/replaced.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Day 57 - Bac Ngam to Lao Cai

Start: Bac Ngam, Vietnam
End: Lao Cai, on the Chinese border on the Red River in north-western Vietnam.
Distance: 46 km
Time: 3'31"
Avg: 13.1 k/h
Max: 29.9 k/h
Total: 4131 km
Total riding days: 46
Roadkill: I was hungry, I wasn't looking.
Riding hours: 0630 - c.1100.

The dry season in Vietnam begins in November, so I suppose I can't complain that it rained very hard this morning. I got very, very wet, and cold too, even here in the tropics. The rivers are swollen and red with the washed-out soil from the mountains.

China is 50 metres away across the bridge. I will cycle up into the hills to Sapa tomorrow, though; I will be back in China in January, insh'allah.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Day 56 - Lang Dat to Bac Ngam

Start: Lang Dat, Vietnam
End: Bac Ngam, 38 km south-east of the Chinese border at Laocai. Approx 104 deg E, 22 deg N
Distance: 135 km
Time: 8'27"
Avg: 15.8 k/h
Max: 38.5 k/h
Total: 4085 km
Total riding days: 45
Roadkill: Nothing noticed.
Riding hours: 0700 - 2000.

More winding up into the mountains. Bac Ngam has nowhere to stay and nowhere to camp. After watching Vietnam U23 beat Thailand U23 2-1 at football, I eventually found an electrical repair depot where the electricians put me up for the night. First, we had to watch the repeat of the football though.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Day 55 - Viet Tri to Lang Dat

Start: Viet Tri
End: Lang Dat, near Yen Bai, Vietnam. Approx 105 deg E, 22 deg N
Distance: 90 km
Time: 5'08"
Avg: 17.4 k/h
Max: 38 k/h
Total: 3951 km
Total riding days: 44
Roadkill: Snakes again. St Patrick missed some.
Riding hours: 0820 - 1530

Winding road upping and downing hills all day. Was force-fed one of those fruits that they call youzi in China (don't know what they are called in English, they look a bit like an oversized pear-shaped grapefruit, which you eat in segments) when I accidentally stopped to look at my map outside a row of 200 youzi-selling stalls.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Day 54 - Bac Ninh to Viet Tri

Start: Bac Ninh, north-eastern Vietnam
End: Viet Tri, Phu Tho Province, Vietnam. Approx 105 deg E, 21 deg N
Distance: 111 km
Time: 6'28"
Avg: 17.2 k/h
Max: 30.5 k/h
Total: 3861 km
Total riding days: 43
Roadkill: Rodents
Riding hours: 0840 - 1755

Vietnamese provinces are small. This is my 6yh in 3 days. In China, it takes weeks to get through one. Viet Tri is one of those disappearing cities - you ride through it and you're out the other side again before you've noticed it. There must be a town centre somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

Stayed in a guesthouse run by a returned refugee - he had learnt some English in his time in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Day 53 - Langson to Bac Ninh

Start: Langson, north-eastern Vietnam
End: Bac Ninh, north-east of Hanoi
Distance: 125 km
Time: 6'29"
Avg: 19.3 k/h
Max: 38 k/h
Total: 3750 km
Total riding days: 42
Roadkill: No snakes! Has St Patrick already ridden through this country?
Riding hours: 0915 - 1615

Spent all day looking for a turning to Thai Nguyen. Didn't find one, so ended up nearly in Hanoi. Such is life. Northern half of the day through karst scenery; southern half dead flat. The road mostly not too busy, but it does not satisfy the Mark & Ju McLean test of a quiet road.

I still don't know how to say Hello in Vietnamese. I can write it, like this: Chao.

But how do you pronounce it?

"Ciao" sounds too Italian.

"Cow" sounds too bovine.

Either way, people don't seem to understand me, so I say Hello instead. Not very impressive.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Day 52 - Pingxiang to Langson

Start: Pingxiang, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Langson, Vietnam
Distance: 48 km
Time: 3'34"
Avg: 13.3 k/h
Max: 47 k/h
Total: 3625 km
Total riding days: 41
Roadkill: The end of my 13 month stint in China - for a while at least
Riding hours: 0900 - not sure. Time zone has changed.

Arrived in Vietnam. I speak not a word of the lingo, I have no
guidebook, no phrasebook, and no map. And the bookshops don't sell 'em
either. Which way is the Exit? Quite a pretty town, Langson, though.

Internet is 'internet', I think - so I do speak a word of the
language, after all.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Day 51 - Ningming to Pingxiang

Start: Ningming, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Pingxiang, Guangxi province (just short of the Vietnamese border)
Distance: 52 km
Time: 3'35"
Avg: 14.6 k/h
Max: 39 k/h
Total: 3577 km
Total riding days: 40
Roadkill: A half-killed dragonfly
Riding hours: 0900 - 1245

My last day in China for a while, after 13 months in the country. Pingxiang is a smelly sort of border town, designed to make you feel not too sorry about leaving. Signs in Vietnamese everywhere. I am a bit apprehensive about going to Vietnam, where I don't speak a word of the language.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Day 50 - Shangsi to Ningming

Start: Shangsi, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Ningming, Guangxi province (approx 1-7 deg E, 22 deg N)
Distance: 127 km
Time: 7'30"
Avg: 16.9 k/h
Max: 50.5 k/h
Total: 3525 km
Total riding days: 39R
Roadkill: My puncture-free record
Riding hours: 1000 - 1900

Hoped for a fast good road with a tailwind and a descent. Got the tailwind... The road west from Shangsi is in a bad way, I think they are 'working on it', which means basically turning it into a rocky sandpit. Next year it will probably be a beautiful dual carriageway.

I GOT A PUNCTURE! I am very excited about this because it is my first since England, 24,000 km ago.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Day 49 - Nanning to Shangsi

Start: Nanning, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Shangsi, Guangxi province (south-south-west of Nanning, towards Vietnamese border)
Distance: 112 km
Time: 5'53"
Avg: 19 k/h
Max: 50 k/h
Total: 3398 km
Total riding days: 38
Roadkill: Snakes, rats
Riding hours: 1215 - 1835

Left after lunch. Muggy. Got lost coming out of Nanning. Nanning, like most cities round the world, is very happy to accept incoming roadsigns for hundreds of miles around, but is loath to offer directions to anywhere else. Ended up on the airport expressway; right direction, wrong road. Tried again, and found a winding gravel road that eventually took me onto the G322.

The G322, the direct road to Pingxiang and the border, is fairly narrow and busy, so after 50km or so I turned off and headed south to Shangsi, on a nice road across some low rolling hills.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Days 47 and 48, Nanning

19th & 20th October 2005.

Stayed in Nanning, eating, sleeping, and waiting for my visa.

Picked it up on 20th October. Visa collection time is 6pm.

I was premature in my comment earlier that the 400 yuan visa fee does not include a smile. You get a little one when you collect your visa.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Day 46 - Nanning to Nanning

Start: Nanning, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Nanning, Guangxi province
Distance: 1 km
Time: 0'3"
Avg: 11.2 k/h
Max: 17.6 k/h
Total: 3286 km
Total riding days: 37
Roadkill: The previous world record for the shortest day's bike ride
Riding hours: 1120 - 1123

I packed up and moved to another hotel, to pass the time. Waiting for my Vietnam visa to be processed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Help - has anyone seen my hotel?

More from the mailing list:

Sorry to trouble your inboxes twice in one day, but since I last
wrote, I've had a little difficulty locating my hotel... and my
bicycle... and all my worldly belongings...

As I walked out of the hotel a couple of hours ago, I took care to
note that it was the one just down the road from the bus station, at
the back of a shoe shop.

Returning to that street, down the road from the bus station, I now
find a row of at least twenty shoe shops, each indistinguishable from
the next to the naked eye, and all with much-of-a-muchness guesthouses
at the back.

I have now walked into about a dozen of these places, looked around
for something familiar (my bicycle, for example), failed to find
anything, smiled feebly, muttered something in half-Chinese about
"silly me", and walked out again.

This process is easy enough the first few times, but as I get deeper
into double figures, I'm starting to feel more than a little

So I suppose I'm just sending this message on the off-chance that the
proprietress of 'my' hotel is on my mailing list; if you are, could
you please stand outside and wave, in about ten minutes' time?

Thank you very much.

In which I visit Mr and Mrs Mao, Senior, hang out with some Chinese birds, and get arrested (again)

In case you missed the latest instalment on the mailing list:

First up, a request:

While it is nice to know that people are following my daily 2wheelin'
progress across China on my blog at, can I ask
those of you who are tracking me by sticking flags into wall-maps to
be a little less precise with your pin-pricks? I keep getting a sharp
stabbing sensation in my right buttock around 3 o'clock every

Thank you.

I left you last time in Jingdezhen, out of which I eventually pedalled
weighed down by half a hundredweight of spare pottery foisted on me as
souvenirs by various locals.

Slowly, chucking out porcelain ballast at the foot of every climb, I
made my way toward Hunan province.

Now, the Hunanese are tremendous people and I'm very fond of them. But
they do suffer from a collective inability to pronounce their 'H's and
their 'N's, and this, particularly if you live in a place called
Hunan, you might consider something of an inconvenience.

The Hunanese get round the problem by claiming to live in 'Fulan' -
for some reason the final 'N' doesn't seem to cause them the same

Of course, looked at another way, it might be that the Fulanese can
pronounce all their letters quite happily, thank you, and it is
everybody else in China who has problems with their 'F's and 'L's,
causing them to mis-pronounce Fulan 'Hunan'.

Whichever way you look at it, it was in Hunan (or Fulan) that on 26th
December 1893, a son was born to Mr Mao Shunsheng and his wife, Wen
Qimei. They called their son Zedong, and he went on to cause quite a
bit of trouble.

In the village of Shaoshan, you can (and I did) visit the very house,
nay the very room, in which the Dear Boy came into this world. The
stable and the manger are also on display, just across the courtyard.
There is a distinct Bethlehemian air hanging over the whole place; I
didn't actually see any shepherds, but then they were probably busy
abiding in their fields.

When you've finished having your photograph taken in front of Chairman
Mao's childhood home, at the Official Having Your Photograph Taken In
Front Of Chairman Mao's Childhood Home Photography Spot - sponsored by
Kodak, "Share Moments. Share Life.[TM]" - you can go up the hill to
the grave where old Mr and Mrs Mao are buried. And, if you feel the
urge, you can burn incense to pay your respects. It's OK to kowtow and
mumble a few prayers to the Great Progenitors of the Great Helmsman,

Or is it?

What would Mao, the man who wanted to sweep Confucianist
ancestor-reverence out of China, say if he knew people were coming
over all humble and weak-kneed before his parents' tomb?

One thing is for sure, if Mao were alive today, he'd be turning in his
grave. Perhaps any readers planning to visit Beijing soon could pop in
and check out his mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, to see if they've
mounted his body on a spit, and let us know.


Ah yes, those leggy Chinese birds.

Just west of Jingdezhen is a big lake called Poyang Hu. The place is
full of migrating water-fowl and quite possibly some interesting
viruses too. Among the many species which pass through is the Siberian
black-necked crane. Unfortunately I lack the ornithological expertise
to be able to say whether or not I saw any, though I think my
bird-spotting talents have come on quite a bit recently - allow me to
pass on a tip: if it has two legs, a tail, a beak and flies around
saying tweet, then there's a good chance it's a bird you're looking

Back to Hunan/Fulan. I left/neft that province a little quicker than
planned, courtesy of the Boys in Blue (formerly the Boys in Green) of
the Public Security Bureau of a town so secret that not only is it
forbidden for foreigners to go anywhere near it, but it is also
forbidden to tell foreigners that it is forbidden for foreigners to go
anywhere near it, until they actually arrive. By which time it is too
late, and they have to arrest you.

So I arrived, whereupon I was arrested by the local PC Plod for Being
a Foreigner in a Town So Secret that it is Forbidden etc.

After much questioning and fingerprinting and signing of confessions,
a spot of wailing and a few half-hearted gnashings of teeth, they told
me that, since I had expressed sufficient remorse, and since they had
heard of Liverpool, they would let me off with a warning, rather than
meting out the official punishment (the nature of which was not

They didn't let me keep the Official Warning Notice, though, which was
a pity because it would have made a nice souvenir and I think my
fingerprints look good in red ink.

Instead, my passport was confiscated, and I was escorted by no fewer
than 5 (five) police officers to a hotel, told not to leave the
premises, and to be ready at 0630 the following morning, at which time
I would be deported post-haste from the province. I squealed and said
that any use of motorised deportation aids would break my bicycling
'line' between China and England, but they were adamant that there was
only one was I was gonna be leavin' their town, and that was inside of
a bus.

At 0630 the following morning, one of the five appeared at the hotel,
dressed in his pyjamas and yawning melodramatically. He gave me my
passport and said:

"You have 90 minutes to cross the border. Have a nice trip, and make
sure no policemen see you until you're out of the province."

I took my passport, and ran.

Something felt wrong.

Realising I had forgotten my bicycle, I ran back again, jumped into
the saddle and pedalled hard for the border. At 0812, 12 minutes after
the pyjama'd policeman's deadline, I crossed into Guizhou province.

Where I met men carrying blunderbusses, shared a room with a lonely
minnow, and got drunk by mistake with Mr Lu, who only knew one
sentence in English: "Drink some more".

More of which some other time.

For now, let me risk re-arrest for divulging state secrets by
revealing the name of the Forbidden City into which I strayed. It is
called Huitong. Don't go there.

I leave you with my thanks to you for all your entertaining messages
of support and abuse over the last few weeks, which help keep the legs
turning, and to my kind sponsors, who include: -

* Decathlon China - for all your bicycling and sports needs in China:

* Drennan Co., the premier player in China's specialized equipment,
components and parts market. "Nobody knows China like Drennan! "

* Eclipse Internet, for web hosting and broadband internet access in
the UK, whose sponsorship of the 2wheels website will shortly enter
its third year.

* P&O Ferries, Providing Cross-Channel Solutions. (My slogan, not
theirs.) They paid for my trip from Dover to Calais in 2004, and have
kindly agreed to sort out the same journey in reverse some time in

Edward Genochio
Bingyang, Guangxi, China bicycling from England to China and back again

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Day 45 - Bingyang to Nanning

Start: Bingyang, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Nanning, Guangxi province (Capital city of Guangxi)
Distance: 97 km
Time: 4'59"
Avg: 19.5 k/h
Max: 46 k/h
Total: 3285 km
Total riding days: 37
Roadkill: Little yellow ducklings
Riding hours: 0720 - 1400

Flier of a ride, averaged over 21 km/h until I got into Nanning and started looking for accommodation. That is fast for me on a laden bike. Nanning is a huge and modern looking city, not what I expected. I have just put my passport in to the Vietnamese consulate here for a visa. It costs 400 RMB and takes 3 days to process. A smile from the consular officer is not included in the price.

Accommodation is a little hard to find in Nanning if your budget is tight. Most cheap places turn foreigners away (which is rare in China these days, though it used to be the norm), and everywhere has jacked up their prices in any case because there is a big China-ASEAN expo of some sort going on, plus a Folk Singing Festival starting tomorrow.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Day 44 - Heshan to Bingyang

Start: Heshan, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Bingyang, Guangxi province (town north-east of Nanning)
Distance: 82 km
Time: 4'24"
Avg: 18.7 k/h
Max: 38 k/h
Total: 3188 km
Total riding days: 36
Roadkill: Chickens
Riding hours: 0750 - 1335

Nothing much to report. The karsty peaks gradually subside as you descend southwards on the G322, a so-so and not too busy road. Bingyang has some very cheap accommodation - 8 yuan (less than one American dollar) gets you a small single room with a fan.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Day 43 - Yizhou to Heshan

Start: Yizhou, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Hezhou, Guangxi province (small city approx 160 km north of Nanning)
Distance: 110 km
Time: 6'12"
Avg: 17.7 k/h
Max: 48.5 k/h
Total: 3105 km
Total riding days: 35
Roadkill: Rats
Riding hours: 0830 - 1645

Easy day downwind and gently downhill through karst hills of decreasing size.

Heshan must be the world's smallest city. It consists of a single
street, half a dozen cheap hotels, and 17 shops selling beds. Very
little else.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Day 42 - Rongshui to Yizhou

Start: Rongshui, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Yizhou, Guizhou province (small city south-west of Rongshui)
Distance: 111 km
Time: 6'09"
Avg: 18.1 k/h
Max: 54.5 k/h
Total: 22995 km
Total riding days: 34
Roadkill: The usual snakes
Riding hours: 0830 - 1645

First half of the day, as far as LuoCheng, was on an inverted curate's egg of a road - bad in parts. Second half was a perfect smooth downhill all the way, through more karst scenery.

For the second day in a row, I find myself staying in a room on the 6th floor of a hotel. This is a severe test for my leg muscles, which are now quite happy on the bike but object strenuously when called upon to walk more than 150 metres.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Day 41 - Sanjiang to Rongshui

Start: Sanjiang, Guangxi province (south-western China)
End: Rongshui, Guangxi province (pretty much due south of Sanjiang)
Distance: 119 km
Time: 6'45"
Avg: 17.6 k/h
Max: 54 k/h
Total: 2884 km
Total riding days: 33
Roadkill: Butterflies
Riding hours: 0910 - 1800

Downhill all day, more or less, on a perfect new road. Very dull. One pass - but that has now been cut off by a tunnel, so not even any climbs to keep the mind occupied.

Rongshui is, unexpectedly, set among very picturesque limestone karst scenery, of the sort more famously found around Guilin and Yangshuo. For some reason, the tourists haven't arrived in Rongshui, but it's every bit as pretty and karsty. The town itself isn't much, but there are nice little roads in the villages round about.

Most of the day's riding was dull and downhill on the new road south, nothing much to look at and no trees for shade. The last 20 km, off the main road, were lovely, down shaded lanes and along the river.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day 40 - Diping to Sanjiang

Start: Diping, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Sanjiang, Guangxi province
Distance: 69km
Time: 5'54"
Avg: 11.6 k/h
Max: 30.5 k/h
Total: 2765 km
Total riding days: 32
Roadkill: Not on a road like this
Riding hours: 0800 - 1545

Supposed to be a national trunk road, the G321, but it's in a terrible condition and unsealed. Arrive covered in dust.

Met Li Chong Ling, a Chinese cyclist who left his home in Fujian province in 2001 and has been riding around China ever since. He's just 3 months from the end of his 5-year ride, in which time he has ridden in every province of China (apart from Taiwan...). When he needs money, he works in road crews for a few months - they pay 30 yuan a day (about 2 pounds). He says it's best in Tibet, where they pay more - 50 yuan/day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day 39 - Zhaoxing to Diping

Start: Zhaoxing, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Diping, Guizhou province (village between Congjiang and Sanjiang)
Distance: 38 km
Time: 4'02"
Avg: 9.3 k/h
Max: 23.9 k/h
Total: 2696 km
Total riding days: 31
Roadkill: On roads like that, an arthritic sloth with a heavy weight tied around its neck would have plenty of time to get out of the way of uncoming vehicles.
Riding hours: 1145 - 1700

The day began with a hangover, for reasons which I will explain later, shortly followed by a steep climb on a rocky track to a pass. Thereafter it was a long painful slow descent down a sand and rock track.

Diping used to have a "wind and rain bridge", until it was swept away in a flood in July 2004. It is now a rather miserable little place.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 38 - Langpao to Zhaoxing

Start: Langpao, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Zhaoxing, Guizhou province (village north-east of Congjiang)
Distance: 29km
Time: 2'48"
Avg: 10.4 k/h
Max: 59 k/h
Total: 2659 km
Total riding days: 30
Roadkill: None, except a drowned rat in the river in Zhaoxing
Riding hours: 0815 - 1200

Zhaoxing is a pretty village which I'll tell you all about some other time. Staying in the Potato Service Hotel, mainly because it is called the Potato Service Hotel, and I have always wanted to stay in a hotel called the Potato Service Hotel.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day 37 - XiaJiang to ? LangPao

Start: Xiajiang, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Crossroads on bank of river opposite small village (?LangPao), between Congjiang and Sanjiang, Guizhou province
Distance: 89km
Time: 6'22"
Avg: 13.9 k/h
Max: 41.5 k/h
Total: 2629 km
Total riding days: 28
Roadkill: My front rack
Riding hours: 0830 - 1845

The good road ends at Congjiang. Shortly after, my front rack broke, down where it screws into the fork. Not a good thing, though better it happens here than in the middle of the Tibetan plateau in winter, I suppose.

Temporary repair job with bike bandages (zip ties).

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Day 36 - Yongle to Xiajiang

Start: Yongle, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Xiajiang, Guizhou province (village between Ronjiang and Congjiang)
Distance: 117km
Time: 6'43"
Avg: 17.5 k/h
Max: 48.5 k/h
Total: 2540 km
Total riding days: 28
Roadkill: snakes
Riding hours: 0850 - 1745

Down, down, down, a wonderful desent on a wonderful road - but in drizzle and fog so I couldn't see the views. Must be very spectucular when you can see beyond your handlebars though.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Day 35 - Leishan to Yongle

Start: Leishan, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Yongle, Guizhou province (village south-east of Leishan)
Distance: 59km
Time: 4'35"
Avg: 12.9 k/h
Max: 41 k/h
Total: 2423 km
Total riding days: 27
Roadkill: Praying mantises
Riding hours: 0820 - 1500

Camped out last night. Would you believe it, it rained. First time
since Shanghai I've camped - and the first rain too.

Whichever god the praying mantises are praying to, it's the wrong one.

Interesting market in Yongle. Post Office Hotel gives a great view.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Day 34 - Kaili to Leishan

Start: Kaili, Guizhou province (south-western China)
End: Leishan, Guizhou province (south-east of Kaili)
Distance: 47km
Time: 3'22"
Avg: 13.9 k/h
Max: 47.5 k/h
Total: 2364 km
Total riding days: 26
Roadkill: Nothing new to report, sergeant.
Riding hours: 1130 - 1800

A passing film crew from Beijing TV's Travel Channel picked me up half
way through the day and thereafter filmed my every move. Hollywood

A sign says that "You are sure to experience the marmony of human
being and the nature".

Fantastic scenery.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Day 33 - Huangping to Kaili

Start: Huangping, Guizhou province (China)
End: Kaili, Guizhou province (China)
Distance: 67km
Time: 5'29"
Avg: 12.1 k/h
Max: 52 k/h
Total: 2317 km
Total riding days: 25
Roadkill: Didn't notice any
Riding hours: 0950 - 1800

Laurent and Anouck were right. More hills. Populated, it is said, by
hill tribes, which stands to reason. Chong'an village is supposed to
be very exciting on market days. Today wasn't a market day. It was
nice and quiet. Matang village is famous for its Gejia people who have
been making batik things for over 2,000 years, apparently. I wonder
who bought batik things 2,000 years ago, I don't suppose they had many
backpackers in those days. It is a fine place to visit if you enjoy
surround-sound high-pressure batik salesladies.

The road to Kaili cuts through an impressive limestone gorge,
apparently with coal mines deep inside the limestone. I am not a
geologist so I don't know if this is possible, but there were
certainly mineworkings with coal coming out and coal trucks beating up
and down the road hauling the stuff down to the giant Kaili power

Day 32 - Zhenyuan to Huangping

Start: Zhenyuan, Guizhou province (China)
End: Huangping, Guizhou province (China)
Distance: 81km
Time: 6'24"
Avg: 12.6 k/h
Max: 42.5 k/h
Total: 2250 km
Total riding days: 24
Roadkill: The usual snakes
Riding hours: 1110 - 1810

Met first cycle tourists of the journey. Laurent and Anouk from
Switzerland have been riding round Guizhou and Guangxi for a month,
and they have one thing to report: hills.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Day 31 - Tianzhu to Zhenyuan

Start: Tianzhu, Guizhou province (China)
End: Zhenyuan, Guizhou province (China)
Distance: 121km
Time: 8'24"
Avg: 14.4 k/h
Max: 44.5 k/h
Total: 2169 km
Total riding days: 23
Roadkill: Nothing much, but I did see the biggest moth you ever did
see, as big as my hand. Not dead though, so it doesn't count.
Riding hours: 0920 - 1840

Perfect, quiet road through the hills from Tianzhu to Sansui. Very
rough road up over double pass to Zhenyuan.

Legs were flying today, after feeling dead yesterday.

Bike now mud-caked after a climb and descent on a slick mud surface.
Made it into Zhenyuan just as it was getting dark. First town in China
I've ever been in where all the hotels are full. It's still holiday
time (National Day) and Zhenyuan is apparently a big tourist
destination (all Chinese tourists I think - I've not seen any
foreigners in town). Eventually one little place found a room in the
back for me. I am sharing a room with a small aquarium containing a
lonely-looking minnow and two red roses.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Warning - closed areas in Hunan province

Other cyclists may find it useful to know (see previous posts) that the "closed" counties which aliens (foreigners) are not supposed to travel in south-western Hunan are (according to the Huitong PSB):

JingZhou (Miao and Dong Autonomous Zhen)
TongDao (Dong Autonomous Zhen)

I was picked up while out on the road, far from any town. Someone must have reported me when I went through a village. The PSB in Huitong say they arrest several foreign cyclists every year.

I got away with a formal 'warning' - including 3 1/2 hours of questioning, form-filling, fingerprinting, baggage searching, institutionalised faffing, etc.

In theory they could fine you quite heavily, and they will probably want to sling you out of the province by taxi at your expense.

This "closed area" precludes riding the G209 between Huaihua in Hunan and Guangxi in the south.

Day 30 - Huitong to Tianzhu

Start: Huitong, Hunan province
End: Tianzhu, Guizhoun province
Distance: 73km
Time: 4'51"
Avg: 15.1 k/h
Max: 41.5 k/h
Total: 2047 km
Total riding days: 22
Roadkill: Rodents
Riding hours: 0630 - 1400

Last night's policeman showed up at the hotel where I was being held (better than a cell, I suppose, even if I did have to pay for it) at 0630, gave me my passport, and told me I had 90 minutes to get out of the province. "Good luck," he added, as I pedalled off, worried that he would change his mind before I got out of sight. "And try not to be seen by any other policemen between here and the border."

103 minutes later, I crossed the border into Guizhou province, passing about a dozen police cars along the way.

A nice road and an easy ride, but I can't recommend the Hunan side, for legal reasons....

After four hours' sleep last night, I felt pretty dead wobbling into Tianzhu, so I have checked into a zhaodaisuo (guesthouse) for the night.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Day 29 - Anjiang to Huitong

Start: Anjiang, Hunan province
End: Huitong, Hunan province
Distance: 93km
Time: 6'47"
Avg: 13.7 k/h
Max: 40 k/h
Total: 1974 km
Total riding days: 21
Roadkill: My clean-slate criminal record
Riding hours: 0800 - 2000

I have been arrested by the Huitong police for being in an area that is not open to aliens. I must remember to retract my little green antennae when I'm not using them.

My passport has been confiscated and I have been told that I will be expelled from the province at 6.30 tomorrow morning.

Quite a nice ride, until the boys in blue (formerly the boys in green) showed up.