Monday, January 09, 2006

Day 129. Cycling up the hill from Jinghong to Menghai

Start: Jinghong, Yunnan, China
End: Menghai, China
Distance: 59 km
Time: 4'05"
Avg: 14.4 k/h
Max: 33.5 k/h
Total: 7723 km
Total riding days: 85
Riding hours: 1450 - 1925

Was in danger of getting stuck in Jinghong. Just escaped in time.

They've built a new road to Menghai, but the old one is still there, up the Liu Sha (Flowing Sand) river valley. There's not much of a river there any more because they pinch all the water for hydro-power stations along the way. The road is the G214, which goes where I want to go, from down here in Xishuangbanna all the way up to Xining in Qinghai. I could follow it all the way, but it cuts across the Tibetan Autonomous Region which might cause problems with permits etc.

Half way up to Menghai, I meet a New Zealand cyclist coming the other way. Precisely the other way, in fact - he's ridden from London and is on his way to Laos. He confirms that it is cold in the mountains. Unfortunately we're both pressed for time, as sunset approaches, so we don't have time to exchange more than accelerated snippets of route notes for our respective roads ahead.

Menghai has somehow avoided the shiny-plastic facelift that has been applied to most Chinese towns in the past decade, so for a mini-timewarp of what China looked like in 1996, this might be the place to visit. Other than that, it doesn't seem much of a place, though given that I arrived at dusk and left after breakfast, you might argue I didn't give it a very fair chance.

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