Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Day 138 - Cycling to Dali

Start: Xiaguan, Yunnan, China
End: Dali Old Town (Dali Gu Cheng), China (Yunnan, still)
Distance: 66 km
Time: 4'39"
Avg: 14.3 k/h
Max: 40.5 k/h
Total: 8527 km
Total riding days: 94
Riding hours: 1200 - 1825

Spend the morning attempting to exorcise the Curse of the Ma Po Dou Fu, and trying on my cold-weather gear for the first time. Will attempt to post picture.

It is not 66 km to Dali from Xiaguan, but I head off round the eastern shore of Erhai, while the wonderful people at Asia and Away magazine (formerly known as Voyage) see if they can't fix me up somewhere nice to stay for a few days while I write this month's article for them.

Half way round the lake, my phone beeps an SMS: Hotel found, details as per email. There follows a desperate pedal round the villages of eastern Erhai, searching for a wangba (internet cafe) that will reveal the details of my Dali pleasure-dome.

It is to be the Asia Star Hotel. From a distance, you can, err, see it. Possibly also visible from the moon. Not entirely in keeping with the 600-year-old architectural heritage of Dali. BUT - a damn fine place to stay. Says he, upgrading from his usual 10 kuai (75 pence) hovels to a US$106-a-night palace of gourmet buffet breakfasts, beds the size of Pacific island nations, and loos with a view.

The pragmatist says: far better to be basking in luxury inside, looking out, than outside, wallowing in filth, staring up at this hulking edifice. A week of comfort and food - oh, what food - follows; the management should be given medals, the architect should be shot.

Call yourself a hard-core cyclist? If you knew the sweatshop wages I am paid for my monthly masterpieces for Asia & Away, you wouldn't begrudge me this week of indulgence. (Readers of the syndicated version of this blog on the A&A website should feel free to send me contributions, c/o The Editor.)

Asia and Away magazine, for those reading this in the original, 2wheels version, resides here:

For the benefit of the evil search engines, this blog post is about cycling, biking, bicycling, and riding a bicycle in Dali and around Erhai in Yunnan province, China.

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