China trip part one

Discussion in 'Global Trip Reports' started by rhiekel, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Ok, now am finally leaving for China. You can see the small size of the bike better with me sitting on it. Without a person for scale it looks like a regular bike. :rofl Due to the remote and mountainous conditions of this trip I did a fair amount of preparation for it. Normally I pack the night before a trip, throwing some stuff in a bag and take off. Never cold in SE Asia, and support is always close at hand. Just be sure you have money , and everything else will take care of itself. Money will not help me when I am freezing my ass off in some mountain pass however, so I packed a fair amount of warm clothes, including ( gasp ) an electric vest. .It has sat in my junk box for 6 years so may as well use when I have a chance. Always like to take a picture of myself and the bike in pristine condition at the start of a trip.

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    Bike ran well for about two hours....Then started sputtering at high speed, and finally conked out by the side of the road. Fiddled with it a bit, and it restarted. It did that all the way to the border town of Chang Khong, stopping by itself and then reluctantly restarting after maybe 10 minutes.
    Keeping it topped off seemed to help with added fuel pressure and I limped into Chang Khong after riding for an hour in the dark. A shaky start to a long long trip....Here it is being torn apart in the hotel at Chang Khong. You will be seeing a very similar picture a lot... I bought a new coil there in town and put it in, hoping that was the problem as I had no other solutions at hand. The spark seemed weak.

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    Breakfast overlooking the Mekong. This river may look familar to some Vietnam Vets......
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    Loading the bike on a boat to cross over to Laos.
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    Let's see, we need a idiot to sit on the bike and keep it from falling overboard. Hey, I'll do it !!! Notice the brave and resolute look on my face.
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  3. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Cheated a watery death , and am now on the Laos side. A brief stop at customs for a permit to enter Laos, and head down the long road to the Chinese border. This road is about 160 kilometers long to the first major town. It used to be almost impassible in wet season. Now it is partly paved or smooth hard packed dirt ready for paving. Bike ran for maybe 30 minutes before it started dying by the road side. It would sit for about 5 minutes, and then would reluctantly start again. It would only run at about half throttle or it would die immediately. So from the stock amount of 14 horsepower I am now down to maybe 7 horsepower....Long day, thinking each time it died that the stoppage might be permanent. Finally made it to the wierd border town of Boten, next to the Chinese border. Think the whole town is dedicated to the support of the casino. Almost everthing was built in the last year or so. It had a sort of gritty frontier town feel to it. Here is the view out the window of my $ 45 USD hotel room. Relaxed in the pretty nice room, and then time for bike work. Out in the dusty hotel parking lot took the bike all apart again, this time pulling the carb apart trying to see what was wrong. A few specks of dirt in th bowl, but nothing obviously wrong. Put it all back together ,trying to beat a fast moving rain storm that was coming in over the mountains. Just made it, working the whole time with an audience of Chinese construction workers.
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    The border crossing into China , amazingly enough , went very smoothly. On the Laos side they simply checked if the bike had Chinese plates, and waved me on through.
    The actual Chinese border was a couple of kilometers down the road. The customs officials carefully checked all my paper work. They were amazed the bike had a Beijing plate on it. As I think they had never seen a foreigner on a Chinese plated bike enter before, the big boss was called over. A small conference, a quick smile , and I was in !!!! I did not take any pictures at the border, in order not to muck up the water . I have the impression they do not like journalists.. Trying not to yell out to many yipppees in my helmet, I left the border town and headed into China. I get out of town a couple of kilometers and run into this....
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    Asia riders will be able to correctly identify this as the red clay mud of death.
    It is sort of like riding on gooey ice. Let me back up a bit here. When I first bought the bike after it came out of China it had knobby tires on it. As I was not too sure of the life span of cheap Chinese knobbies, the day before I left I changed them out to street tires with long wearing tread. The thought being I had a long way to go, and did not want to be hunting up tires in some small town. So there I am paddling my way through the thick mud on slick street tires, think SHIT !!! Thoughts wondering back to the nice set of knobby tires sitting in my shop in Chiang Mai....The only thing that kept me from falling down a lot was strong legs and a light bike. They are building a major road down to the border, so in essence these are construction bypass areas.
    More fun. These sections were not all that long thankfully, and most of the road was pretty good. A sort of windy two lane paved highway. More of the same.
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    The first medium size town I passed , this is what I see. Oh my god , I have actually come across the answer to my endless breakdowns, a Zong Shen repair place !!! I pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming, and pull in.
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    The guys seemed astounded by me rollin and pulling my helmet off. However they got right to work.
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    I carefully pantomime the carb is bad, smiling faces, and a minute later a carb appears. Yeah baby !
    They install it while I am wilting from the heat in riding gear. Seems to run ok but not perfect. Hard to start but runs strong, so off I go. Just sort of meandering through small foothills , the country side looking a lot like northern Thailand. The road is very windy and I am not making much forward progress.
    Now while riding along I notice the the wind is starting to gust. Looking up I see fast moving dark clouds. Next thing I know the skies open up with some of the hardest rain I have ever felt. I stop the bike frantically trying to get my rain coat out. Next thing I know I feel all this stinging while I am unpacking my stuff. Looking at the ground, I realize I am getting the crap kicked out of me by hail.
    Big hail.... Something I have not seen in many years. So there I am , on the side of the road ,cold, sopping wet, and cowering under a clump of trees to hide from the hail. Welcome to China !! Here is poor picture of one the offending items.
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    It is all over in five minutes with a lot of really strong wind. Now going down the road, it is covered in downed limbs from the trees. So now sort of dodging around them thinking no problem. Next thing I know there is a long line of stopped cars and trucks in front of me. So I slowly go pass them up to the front of the line. This is what I see.
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    Great, a big down limb !! I roll up thinking hey, I can squeeze right under it. As I go past all the stuck people, they start screaming at me in Chinese. Did I mention before I did not speak a word of Chinese ?? I quickly saw the problem, as the limb had power lines on it. You can see the breaker box to the left. It was powering a large cement pump for a bridge job. Here are my new stuck friends behind me.
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    I indicate I would pay a bunch of money to anyone brave enough to pick the line up out of the way.
    Got some big laughs but no takers. I was soaked to the bone and reluctant to be too brave regarding power lines. Finally a brave soul took a long forked stick and propped the offending power line up out of the way. There was a lot of spoken Chinese with a bridge worker above us, so either he had balls of iron or knew the power was off. I waved goodbye to my new friends, at the same time indicating with hand gestures why that for these situations a bike was better than a car, and took off up the road going under the limb.
    Finally stop at a large town in very late afternoon, and start to look for a hotel. Amazingly enough, all the signs are in Chinese and I cannot read them.....At last I spot a sign that says hotel. Great !! Not......Stop in front with everyone staring at me. Inside a single girl is behind the counter. I carefully pantomime that I need a room , thinking no problem as the key rack behind her is chock full of keys. I get back a whole bunch of spoken Chinese, and some sort of special form in Chinese is pushed at me. I can clearly see it is NOT a check in form....... Hmmm. She is essence is refusing to rent me a room because I am missing some sort of special paper is what I finally realize . Let's see, it is almost dark, and I am completely beat ...Basically I just refuse to leave, a strategy I have used with success in Asia before. After a while she relents, and rents me a room for 100 yuan. ( 12 USD ) The room is really crappy and smells bad, but I have little choice. I find out later from my Chinese expert friend Carl that only some hotels are " authorized" to rent to foreigners, and the others are not allowed to rent to them.
    Some sort of odd left over law from an earlier time ???? Off on the town for dinner. Trick is to find a sidewalk cafe with a bunch of people eating. Then wander around looking at people's dinner until you see something that looks good, and then order that. Among travelers that are foolish enough to go into foreign countries without speaking a word of the language, it is called the point and shoot system of ordering. Sort of annoying to the diners as they have no idea why this giant foreigner is staring at their dinner, but better than going hungry.... After a great meal and dog tired, off to bed. Day one is finished.
     
  4. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Up early and ready to roll. Thinking today has to be a better day...First things first, a delicious dumpling breakfast, complete with mystery dipping sauce. A tradtional meal for Chinese people.
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    You should immediately notice two things about this shot. First, why the hell is the road muddy when the sun is shining, and my rear bag is just about to fall off. The road was a really nice twisty paved road. Then it turns into this really wierd road of embedded rocks covered by a slick layer of mud. More wishing for my knobbies back home, as my front wheel kept slipping on the tops of the rocks. I am bouncing along glad I have a kidney belt on when I hear all this honking from one of the trucks behind me. I finally stop and see my rear bag is on the verge of falling off. I had two heavy duty bungees, and a big sort of safety strap around the middle. Still not enough. Figure out what you think you need to safely hold your stuff on, and then triple it !!
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    The road is muddy because of the endless truck traffic. On the downhill parts they use water to cool the brakes. Seems like a good idea to stop brake fade, but sure makes a mess of the road. Speaking of trucks, as I go a bit further I see a long stopped line of them. Sort of work my way up to the front. Great place to have a small bike , easily squeezing between trucks.
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    Now see the problem, an overturned sand truck.
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    Am just able to just work my way through on the left side, climbing over the spilled sand. Hey I am starting to like this little bike if it would just keep running. No way a big bike would fit through there.
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    There is a magnicent toll road that goes exactly where I want to go. However motorcycles are not allowed on the road. So I have to do all my riding on old original highway that winds endless through hte hills , while the toll road takes a pretty direct route.
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    Here the toll road is tormenting me while I am winding around it. Sometimes it closely followed it , and sometimes I was many kilometers away in the mountains.
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    Hey wait a minute. Twisties plus a sort of motard looking bike with small wheels. Yee haa !!
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    Fun wears off after a couple of hours, especially on the slowwww uphill parts. Here are some fun loving gas station girls. A lot more excitement then self serve in America....
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  5. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Come around a corner, and the road is suddenly wall to wall goats. Pays to be careful even at slow speeds.
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    Here is my bypass highway, wondering the hills with the toll road goes straight as an arrow.....Think it was at least three times longer then the toll road.
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    Carefully matching up symbols on the road signs with map symbols.
    So now only 330 kilometers to Kunming.
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    Street luge, Chinese village style. They were having the time of their lives.
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    Some of the terraced hills for growing rice.
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    As I came out of the mountains the bike was pretty muddy. As sometimes the bike is rolled
    into hotel lobbies it is polite to have it sort of clean. As I am whizzing along I see a bike
    wash place and stop. Mistake. If you are driving a marginal bike and it is running, KEEP IT
    RUNNING. After the wash the bike was dead as a doorknob. Stripped all my stuff off the bike
    and started tearing it down. Ended up changing back to the old carb after working the the dust clouds from the trucks flying by three meters from me. Two hours of work with of course some rain thrown in just as all my stuff is scattered out on the ground. Finally got it going , so onto Samao.
    Went out to dinner thinking another session of point and shoot for food. Wrong. There were two waitress girls who were cute as bugs, and were dying to practice their university learned english.
    Had a great time talking with them. Went to bed in a slight Dali Beer fueled haze. Day two ends.
     
  6. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Robert - excellent stuff!!! Roll onwards into the haze.
     
  7. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    Robert,

    I will only post once to try and keep your ride report thread clean and uncluttered, but 'love ya work'...

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  8. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Great pix & update - keep going strong.
    You may want to consider posting your updates aa new threads with Daewoo's comment in mind.
     
  9. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Next morning up early , thinking with a good start and a hard riding day, I could make it to Kunming in one day . Wrong ......Still took two days to get there. Same old story with the bypass road winding all over the place, making it much longer than it looked on the map. Pretty much the same scenery along the way, mostly rolling hills. The only portion of the road that really woke me up was when I began to notice that right at the very edge of the shoulded it dropped straight down 75 meters down to the river. If you stayed towards the center of the road to be safe you might be pushed outwards by a car cutting a corner a bit. If you stayed too far out and had a tire blowout on a corner or had loose gravel on the road , that would be certain death. This picture does not begin to do the drop-off justice.
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    Early morning bike breakdown. I stopped to ask directions at a fork in the road. The bike died and would not start. As I was in front of a small shop I turned it over to them and went out for breakfast. When I came back they had it running again with no explaination of what was wrong.
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    Hey I am at the tropic of cancer !
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    Gas station rest rooms. Had to ask the attendant which one was for me.
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    Here is the toilet, a slot in the floor dropping to the stream below.:eek1
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    Think the trucks were either not allowed on the toll road or they were saving money by taking the bypass road . There seemed to be an endless supply of them in both directions . Made for tough passing with so many of them coming towards you.
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    Finally make it to Kunming just as it is getting dark. It is a quite large city, so it takes a bit of navigation skill to get where you want to go. In my case it was a guesthouse named the Hump . Not that kind of hump, those of you with dirty minds . The theme for it was about flying over the hump from China to Russia back in the old days. My friend here in China, Carl reccomended it but Lonely Planet did not show where it was . So he sent me the lat lon via phone and away I go. Not....The bike will start and barely barely idle , but died with any throttle. Finally decided it needed some help . So started it again, left it idling, give the bike a running start, and dropped it in gear. Then it took off and ran normally, getting me to the guest house. The single rooms were full, so high flyer Rob is now bunking it with backpackers. Not a bad group of people , they just have to learn not to take themselves so seriously. Bob Marley is dead, and the sixties were a long time ago. $ 4 a night, and right in the center of town. Great pizza !
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    Tried to start the bike the next morning, dead as a door knob. So now taxi off to the Zong Shen dealer. He was located right in dealers row. There was about 30 different dealers, all selling almost the exact same bike. Nearly all 125 or 150 CCs bikes.
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    So time to load up on parts. I am sure that all these problems were from the carb. Rumor was the original carb had eaten lots of dust with no air filter, and I still was not sure if the one I bought at the border was the right one. So now a new factory carb, and threw in a CDI unit as well. Am thinking that is the whole combustion system, it HAS to work now.......
    Hey let's throw in a sprocket set as well, and a chain.
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    While waiting for my parts to show up , time to shop !! How about a bike pick up ??
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    Check this bad boy out. It is an electric bike. The entire city of Kunming was full of these . A great idea. Pennies a day to operate, perfectly quiet, and reliable. Range of about 60 kilometers, and a top speed of about 45 kph. If you have fat buddies and want to go up hills forget it. But for everything else it would work well . My friend Levin is going to start importing these into the states. If you are intested in buying one send me a pm. No license required or plating as they are considered to be an electric bicycle.
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    Of course I had to take it for a spin . Now finally I am a Cool Boy.
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    How about this sexy little motard number ?
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    A 50 year old collector bike. They wanted 30,000 yuan for it.
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    Ahhhaaa !!!!! The bike of my dreams. Roughly a thousand times better than the bike I
    am riding now . I am going to finish beating up my bike in Tibet and buy one of these
    on the way back. Heavy duty o ring chain, steel brake line, wavy rotor, aluminum swing arm,
    etc. A very nice bike. Honda watch out. Sorry about the very small model, he was the only
    one I could press into service.
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    Back to the parking area , and switch out the carbs and CDI . After it seemed to reluctantly start
    up. Am thinking great. Next morning pack up all my stuff at the guest house. Open road here I come. Not.... Again the bike refuses to start no matter what I do. So arrange for a little truck to show up to take it to the dealer.
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    The dealer fiddles with it for a while and finally gets it to run. They cannot explain what is wrong with the bike , as they actually performed no repairs. They then hand the bike back to me saying everything is fine. ( This is all done in sign language by the way ) . I do a small test ride off to a noodle lunch. After the bike sits for a while and has cooled down , it is again hard to start . AAAAAHHHHAAAA!!!!!
    Brain flash !! Has to be low compression.... When cold the rings have shrunk making it hard to start . When hot they expand and it runs fine . I go back to the dealer and tell them I want to change the piston and rings. I can see in their eyes they think I am nuts. They keep starting the bike and tell me it is ok . I insist I want the parts changed. So one of the sales people there jumps on a bike and indicates for me to follow him. Off we go twistins all over the city. We end up at the distributor for Zong Shen, a warehouse full of bikes everywhere. Of course all the exectives have to come out and carefully discuss all the modifications this strange foreign man has done to their bike . Then they were all taking turns to have their picture taken with me. After much discussion in Chinese a guy goes in the back and comes out with this, a complete engine. Yeah now we are talking !! Am think if I change the engine it has to work......
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    The complete engine is offered to me for 3000 yuan, or they will take off the piston and barrel
    for 400 yuan. The engine is loaded on the back of my bike, and away we go back to the service center.
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  10. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    At the service center four guys attack the bike and have it apart in short order. It was very late in the day, but I had the feeling they were going to finish no matter what.
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    Here is the sacrificial engine in its final death throes as it gives up its cylinder to breathe life back into my bike.
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    Yeah baby, who is the master mechanic??? Here is the offending piston, with the sides heavily scored from slapping. Basically the rings soften up , and no longer hold the piston straight in the barrel so it slaps back and forth. The mechanics were looking at me with new found respect in their eyes.
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    Back together, and now the bike starts and runs perfect. Yeee haa. Bike loaded up the next morning in front of the Hump guesthouse , and I am off.
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    A mile long line of trucks. I saw this a lot. One truck will breakdown on the narrow road. But there are so many oncoming trucks they cannot pass easily so they end back up behind the broken truck. Great to have a bike and thread my way up to the front.
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    Pretty beat up copy of a BMW.
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    Came into this tunnel with my sunglasses on.........It was like someone switched out the lights in a room. Am used to tunnels with lighting. I tried to keep straight as I could and come to a stop without running into the tunnel walls. In the future sunglasses off, and all lights on before entering any tunnel.
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    You are probably wondering what is going on here . In this area at about an elevation of about 2000 meters it was cool and dry, perfect for growing wheat. So they lay the wheat in the road to let the trucks run over it, breaking the wheat from the chaff. There was endless miles of this, sort of fun to ride over.
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    Here they are using a fan blow away the final small pieces of chaff . In most of the areas they just use the wind.
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    So the bike is running perfectly all day. Fixed at last ! Lots of power, and never stuttered all day. Think I have that problem fixed . However once again I have underestimated the time needed to travel to Dali from Kunming....Four hours by bus, unknown hours on the bypass road . So now get caught in the dark in the mountains. No problem, just taking my time winding along the road.
    Finally come off the mountains and down into the flats. Now speed up a bit, very little traffic on the road . I see a truck coming towards me with very bright high beams left on. I politely dim my lights and turn off the driving lights. He of course never dims his lights, and I am completely blinded. At that exact moment in time.......of course there is cart full of wood with no lights at all being pushed down the middle of my lane.:eek1 I never even had a chance to swerve, just plowed into the back of it about 60 kph. Shit !! One frigging week in China and I have entered the face plant zone...Next thing I know, big impact , and I am sliding down the road..After coming to a halt I do a quick body check before I try to move. Yep everything ok, just bruised badly. Dodged a bullet ! The woman was protected by the cart and was not hurt. Here is the offending cart which ended up being pushed off the road by the impact.
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    I get up and drag the bike off the road before I am run over by a truck.
    Here is poor nightime accident scene picture of my bike. Does not really look that bad in the picture but everything was bent up. It started up , and was barely ridable with the severely twisted handle bars.
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    The accident happened just outside a village. So of course in short order guess what ?? Yes, the giant evil foreigner who has harmed one of the locals is now surrounded by angry villagers. When I test start the bike a group gather in front of the bike to block it, thinking I going to do the classic Asian runner.I then whip out my phrase book and indicate the police should be called in. The head guy indicates that they have already called them.
    So now we are all in a weird standoff waiting for the police to show up. I called my friend Levin who speaks excellent Chinese to try to make some sort of settlement so I can be on my way . It was pitch black , I was cold , partly in shock, and I had not eaten all day. So I wanted to move on.
    Could not work anything out , maybe because the police has already been called. In SE Asia a sad fact is when there is an accident, the two parties quickly settle and leave before the police show up , as the police will want a cut of the action. Here the police show up at last. Sorry for my weak flash.
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    They were very polite and courteous. They took pictures of the scene, and made drawings as well. Of course the group of villagers were pressing their case the whole time. When he came over to me I simply
    pointed to the back of my bike showing the tail light, and then pointed to the back of the cart showing no light. I then rested my defense.....The police could not speak a word of english. I was a bit nervous as in essence I did not have a Chinese driver license, and did not have insurance. So I called Levin again who spoke to the police on my phone. He told them it was my first time in China and that I was really scared. A bit of a fabrication but sounded good to the police. Leving also said the villagers were probably afraid they were going to have to pay me for damage to the bike. The police told him to tell me to not be afraid. After a while when the police man got tired of the villagers bending his ears he called someone who spoke excellent english and handed the phone to me . This guy apologised profusely to me, and said I was free to go. He asked if I needed any help or medical care. Wow !! This is a far cry from Thailand where the police ransom your bike if you have an accident regardless of who is at fault.
    So I limp the last 20 kilometers into Dali with the bike barely ridable, arriving at midnight completely beat. Just wanted to let you guys know life on the road can have some downside . Not all glamour and beautiful scenery.

    Next day wake up in a world of pain feeling like I had run into a wood cart. Wait, now I remember that is what I did ! An hour of feeling sorry for myself , and then time for bike fixing. Here is a view of the handle bars.
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    A piece of luck for me , the hotel had a nice inside area where I could work on the bike. Even including an operating table for my parts and tools. I guess that should be my new criteria for a hotel, workspace.
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    The right front fairing piece was completly broken off. So burned a bunch of holes , and then stitched it together with stainless steel wire I had . Came out perfect. I remembered this trick from Ricardo Kuhn.
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    "I am sorry sir, there will be a scar left over ".....No problem, scars add character.
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    Damage was extensive but fixable. Axle was bent, broken fairing pieces, broken headlight shell , driving lights mount all twisted up , instrument cluster mount broken , and on and on and on. Good thing I brought lots of epoxy, spare parts, and most importantly steel wire. Will be back on the road almost as good as new tomorrow. So overall I feel pretty lucky .
     
  11. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Now the cosmetic damage has been more or less repaired. It looks pretty much the same as before.....So the next day time to address the mechanical problems !! New chain and sprocket, new rear brake pads to replace the ones that did not work at all, brighter headlight bulb, change the oil, and a whole bunch of other niggling things. The bike is almost done, am thinking great !
    Then the mechanic points out to me the thread is stripped on one of the cover bolts for the oil filter. Shit !! It was perfect before, think the guy just got carried away tightening it and stripped out the aluminum casting.
    So now the whole side case has to be pulled off to fix it.
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    Ended up putting a bolt through from the inside so it looks like a stud from the outside. The mechanics were impressed as they were just about to try to retap the thin metal of the case to a much bigger size. In these situations you have to control it every second or you will end up with some very odd fixes...Had to cut off part of the shoulder inside to lower the bolt head or it would hit on the gears inside the case.
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    Saw this bottle of oil in the shop. I am sure Boeing has no idea they are in the oil business !
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    Next morning pack up early and I am off. The sun is shining, and the bike is running perfectly.
    Here is a shot along the way. The valleys are starting to get deeper, and the mountains are getting higher.
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    Here is a toll way they will let me ride on. It seems the mega super duper toll ways are off limit to me, but these small ones that are simply toll booths that are stuck in the middle of standard highways are fair game.
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    Finally reach Lijiang, a very nice city nestled in a valley nestled against the side of a mountain. It is noted for all the streams that run through the city center. Also has a very scenic old town area. I finally reach my hotel after many episodes of asking directions from hapless Chinese people on street corners. I smile first , then look confused, then show the map in Chinese with where I want to go. Works like a charm! Find the hotel, which is located in a maze of small streets. However it has no car access or parking. The helpful girl at the checking says to simply roll the bike down these stairs to the hotel area.
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    Uhhhhh. Ok. Remembered it looks easy in the movies. Just rode it down step by step. No problem !
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    Night time shot of the old city area. Very well done, a mix of the old and the new.
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  12. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    The next day the plan was to ride two hours to Tiger Leaping Gorge, and then hike down to the middle part. This is a famous spot in China. Legend has it a tiger leaped across the most narrow part of the gorge. First part of the trip, up the stairs. With two guys pushing behind it was fairly easy.
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    Now heading up into the gorge area. The mountains are getting bigger, and seem to have strange white stuff on them.
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    At the entrance to the gorge park area I ran into this Chinese bike club. For them trips were strictly local, they were amazed I rode my bike from Thailand. They carefully examined every bike modification, and gave me lots of thumbs up and smiles.
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    The road up into the gorge. No need to worry about going off the road and hurting yourself.....Here your death will be a certainty. Slowly around the corners with lots of horn honking by everyone.
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    Think this goat was giving me attitude... He seemed right at home in this steep rocky area.
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    Here is the upper gorge area. This is where all the endless tour buses went.
    The scale is huge. That small object in the center is a large bridge spanning across one of the streams feeding the main river.
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    Here are the tour buses lined up on the narrow two lane road.
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    A good view of the road sort of clinging to the side of the mountain.
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    Small waterfall along the way.
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    Finally reach the middle gorge area. This is where the tiger leaping legend comes from,as it is the narrowest and most dramatic part. A steep trail goes down to the river. These trails are home made by local people, and charge a toll of 10 yuan for your to go down it. So the trail is sort of minimalist at best........ Let me rephrase that, how about steep and dangerous. Only little chains keep you from a falling death. I started from Tinn's guest house. The place was wall to wall with western backpackers having lunch, and rugged looking packs are lying everywhere. Am thinking they are all here to hike down to the gorge.....More on that later..
    [​IMG]

    These photos do not even begin to show how steep it is. That is air under my foot.
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    View looking down. You can just barely see little tiny people on the large rock in the center of the picture.
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    Now finally reach the gorge area itself. This is the spot of the legend. I guess a tiger with really strong legs could have jumped this.
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    Before biker boy, now hiker boy. Long hard trip, and this was the down part.
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    Met these cute university girls from Lijian who spoke excellent english, and of course they wanted to practice a bit.
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    There is a safe way down, and a dangerous way down. I took the safe way down of course. The girls said they wanted to take the dangerous way back up, and wanted me to hike with them. This little voice inside starts screaming take the safe way back. By the way the safe way had plenty of danger for any sane person. But of course the macho side said to the cute girls , of course , let's go the dangerous and interesting way......The dangerous way starts.
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    The pictures do not show the massive drop off to the river below, with only crummy safety wires keeping you alive. After a while come to this junction.
    Remember this sign is on the known danger path. :eek1
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    After a quick conference the girls decide on the safe path. Whew !! Here is the start of the safe path, with 500 feet straight down outside the " safety" wire. I am also bent over because of the way the cliff comes over into the trail.
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    Hey !! A ladder for the really steep part. Great ! It looks like it is made from thin rebar and put together with bad welds. And right on the side of it is , of course, straight down 500 feet to the river. The girl in front of me was so scared she was crying and sobbing the whole way up it. But she never stopped for one second. Tough girl !!! Being a former welder I am looking at the welds with some real fear...Also realize that I weigh twice as much as most Chinese....Oh well , up I go trying not to sob.
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    Up the ladder. I waited until I was the only one on it in order to minimise stress on it.
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    Here were local guys who would carry you up the trail if you were injured or too tired to walk back up.
    I think you would have a heart attack if you went up on that little chair on that trail. I asked how much to take me up from the river to the top. They said ( to my translator) that I would be 280 yuan because I was heavy.
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    Near the top where the trail became more sane some guys had horses that could take you up the last little bit.
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    Thank god I am in sight of the Tina's guest house!!! Just when my legs are turning to jelly. This is the last time I try to get in good condition for a trip by drinkng Heinekin beer.......
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    Remember all the bad ass backpackers I saw at Tina's having lunch?? I never saw a single white face on my whole trip down there and back up. Think their guidebook told them it was too dangerous...
    Goat traffic jam on the way back by bike. Not sure if they were wild or domesticated.
    [​IMG]

    So back to Lijian by early evening. Next day woke up so sore I could hardly get out of bed and walk..
    Will recover from my self imposed thrashing, finish this report, and of course a bit of bike work.
    Tomorrow onwards to Shangri-La.
     
  13. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Glad to see at least someone is reading this report !!! Thought I was posting into the void.......Am now in Shangri-La freezing my ass off. Elevation about 3200 meters, and cccccoooollllddddd.
     
  14. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Robert, I think everyone is reading your reports, with envy, most guys aren't adding any comments so as to kepp your thread uncluttered

    keep it cumming,,,,,
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    "Wrong-way" Robert, I think we are all reading it but you're making us eat humble pie by succeeding with the trip & writing it up here. We are all incredibly jealous. Glad to know you're feeling the cold - it's nice & warm here. But keep riding & writing it up - I'm really enjoying it while I'm still off the Africa Twin.
     
  16. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Entering Tibet requires a special permit, issued by the TTB office of tourism.
    As is it seen by the government as a special zone, they basically only allow people to enter there in tour groups that have the special permit. These permits are issued only from travel agents who also make their money doing all the bookings for you. I sent many emails to travel agents, who simply refused to issue me a permit as a single overland traveler, since they are not making any money from a booking. It is a bit of a scam, since once you are actually in Tibet it is never asked for. Also the government realizes it looks foolish, since they have made a public statement they will do away with the permit system at the end of the year.
    I gathered a bit of local knowledge from a Tibetan woman who has a restaurant here in Shangri-La. She says the border guards do not start work until 8 in the morning. It is a provincial border so apparently is pretty low key. So the plan is to slip through very early in the morning...... . The route is highway 318 direct to Lhasa. Looks like only villages along the way so do not think there will be any internet access for a few days. The scenery is supposed to be stunning, winding through the Himalayas so should have some good pictures to post once I reach Lhasa. If there are not any more posts from me, that means two things. One, I ran off a cliff somewhere. Second , I am cooling my heels in a Chinese jail in Tibet. In that case please start a fund to secure my release..... Wish me luck !!
     
  17. robinowyong

    robinowyong Member

    Hi Robert, I have been following your report from ADVrider to GT-Rider. You are my current idol beside Strikingviking_Glenn. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures posted.
     
  18. bomb defuzer

    bomb defuzer Ol'Timer

    Robert,

    Another awesome day by day trip report. I am extremely envious.

    Chris
     
  19. pexa

    pexa Active Member

    This is an exceptional report in every way. Youre definitely not posting into the void!
     
  20. PICO-PICO

    PICO-PICO Ol'Timer

    one of the few contemporary Robinson Cruseo s , that what you are
     
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    You haven’t heard from “wrong-way” Robert for a few days & might be wondering whether he’s dead or alive & still going; well I got an SMS message from him late today: “Now inside Tibet about 70 kms. Will be in Lhasa in about 5 days. No internet along the way. Could you pls post this on the message board. That I am bound for Lhasa, crossing at 4,700 metres pass today. Had freezing rain, then sleet, then snow, all along with a 30 knot cross wind. Now I remember what cold means.”
    UNBELIEVABLE he’s done it from Chiang Mai on a crap Chinese bike!
     
  22. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Your report and photos are absolutely marvelous....!

    Suggestion....
    Due to the time it takes to load the pictures, consider making subsequent lengthy reports under 'China Trip-Pt2', China Trip-Pt3', etc.

    Be safe...
     
  23. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    See part 2
     
  24. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Robert any chance of fixing your photos up somehow?
     

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