China part three

Discussion in 'Global Trip Reports' started by rhiekel, May 15, 2007.

  1. Coming off the snowy pass here is some pretty common Chinese road work. They just cut a patch out of the road, and fix it sometime in the future. Would be exciting to hit this at night...

    Guess the icy road caught this guy by surprise. One of the riders in our group
    also had a minor crash due to the ice.

    Along the way they were building tunnels to shorten the winding road. There were boulders to block cars from entering , but if you were on a bike the tunnel workers would wave you into the tunnel. Here is a narrow exit....

    The last town before entering Tibet was Batang. Here everyone needed some sort of bike work. Here is Zippy getting some wheel bearings. I had put in new bearings before I left, think the accident and the bent front axle shortened the life of the bearings.

    Here is the group work photo.

    If you could read Chinese that would be the border sign with Tibet.

    Here is the dirt road leading up into Tibet. We were headed towards the
    town of Markham.

    Was feeling pretty tough, thinking here I am riding dirt roads to Lhasa.
    Then we passed these Chinese cyclists who were also going to Lhasa.
    Damn those ego deflating bicycle people....

    Here we are the town of Markham which is about 100 kilometers into Tibet. Some local kids greet us and strike amusing poses.

    Fighting to have their picture taken. Had a feeling these kids were pretty

    View out my window in the morning. It has turned colder and the snow level
    is very close.

    I had a very hard time sleeping. I kept wheezing all night, and could not breathe. It felt like I was trying to breathe through a small straw, and was not getting enough oxygen. So not much sleep, and in the morning felt terrible. We all suited up, and then headed up towards the pass. This does not look like a spring trip....

    As we went up I kept feeling worse. We are in a very remote area, and altitude sickness can easily be fatal. So at the top of the pass I told the group that I had to head back down. It seemed very foolish to continue onwards into higher mountains feeling that bad. I really hate to turn back but sometimes you have to. Very reluctantly we parted company and headed back down the mountain towards Batang.

    Now riding back down the canyon towards Batang. Rode with a couple of guys who were coming from Lhasa. This gentleman was 63 years old......

    Here is one of the tunnels under construction they let you drive through.
    That is fresh concrete forming the left lane. In the middle of the tunnel I thought I was riding through some mud, thinking that was odd to find in a tunnel. Then realized it was fresh cement that was being applied to the ceiling of the tunnel, and the excess was falling down.

    This is a hill tribe woman along the way back to Litang. After I took her picture she held out her hand for money. Guess she has been watching too much TV. I smiled, and shook her hand. That got a big laugh out of her.

    After I got to Litang late in the day I felt much better. It is at the same elevation that I left from that morning in Markham, about 4000 meters. I have never had altitude sickness before. Now was thinking maybe I had been alergic to something I ate. I have been at high altitude for close to two weeks by now so it should not be a problem. I really hate to quit......
    Time to head back to Tibet !! So next morning I get up early, and head back toward Markham in Tibet. The bike is running pretty poorly, and hard to start. I make it to Batang which is the last town before you cross over into Tibet. Here the bike simply refuses to start no matter what I do. The shops here are pretty good on small bikes, so I push the bike to a big shop. Here they tear it apart and try to find out what is wrong.

    Their prognosis was the stator was bad. I have replaced everything else except the stator. Turns out the part was not available in the nearest really big town of Chengdu. Then they start with the shoulder shrugging as if the bike is not really fixable. At this point I sort of lose patience, thinking I am in a really small town where it is difficult to get anything done. First thought is to get the bike to Chengdu, get it fixed, and sell it. I do not like to give up on a bike, but all these endless repairs is starting to feel like flogging a dead horse. All the truck traffic leaving town is either going to Litang or Chengdu.
    So for a while I try bike hitch hiking, hoping I can catch a truck going the way I want. Very very expensive to charter a truck, as it would exceed the value of the bike. The sign says Chengdu in Chinese which I would wave when a likely looking truck came by.

    After a couple of hours I gave up. The bike is only worth a couple of hundred dollars when running so not really worth organizing your life around it. So time to sell the bike and move on. Took it back to the hotel where I stripped off all my stuff.

    Took it ( rolled it ) back to the same shop that said they could not fix it and asked them how much they wanted to buy the bike for as is. After some fierce negotiating it ended up at 1300 yuan. Here is the proud new owner.

    Fairly dejected I drag all my stuff by hand down to the bus station to arrange the long, long, bus ride to Chengdu. I then hear a familiar exhaust. Hey, there is the unfixable Zippy roaring up and down the street 20 minutes after I sold it.

    Not really sure if I was tricked or not. Hate to think the worst of people but... Now am wondering if the guy sandbagged trying to fix it hoping I would sell it, as there really would not be any other choice. Or if he sabotaged the bike from running poorly to not running at all. I did make the mistake of going to lunch when they first started to work on it. Will never know. Not too worried as it is only small money, and I was sort of hankering for a new bike.
    In any event I am now on the "bus from hell" ride to Chengdu where I will decide what to do. The bus left this morning at 0600. Not an hour into the trip he center punches a big rock in the road. Bammm !! We then limp into the next small town where they spend two hours fixing whatever was broken on the suspension. This guy is just flying down these bad roads. I feel like I have just spent 15 hours in a paint mixer. You know how when you go down a washboard road at a slow speed it is not too bad, but when you go fast it kicks the crap out of you? Well we were doing the crap kicking speed.
    Then late in the day we start going through passes with heavy snow. Nearly at the top of one he pulls to the side of a very narrow road with a huge drop off on the outside, and turns off the engine. The driver and the mechanic then put on overalls to work on the bus engine. They then all leave the bus to go outside. We are on a steep uphill with a death dropoff if it rolls backwards....Hmmmm. After about 20 minutes of work they replace some mysterious hose and continue upwards. Now it is dark, and the snow is falling heavily and building up on the road. Of course there are no chains, and some of the cars are already slipping around. And did I mention the death drop off ?? We finally clear the top of the pass and carefully head down to the lower elevations where the snow stops. Whewww !! I am now starting to really feel sorry for all these backpackers taking buses around. Give me a bike any day of the week !!! So tomorrow in Chengdu, where I will come up with a new plan. I really liked the Lhasa plan, but it just did not work out. Maybe next time...
  2. Robert,

    Just to echo other posters thoughts, please don't stop posting...

    China Part 1 has had 363 views thus far, and I am sure every one of those read every word...

    I am sure almost every one of us are very envious of your courage, and the adventure you are having...

    Keep the updates coming...

  3. Robert-

    Playing around with Google while following your progress. Put in the Lat/Lon from your GPS photo and came up with the below pics. Great Job on your part. Pretty Impressive.




    BTW: I have a 2 shipments of parts from Singapore waiting for you.
  4. What a great idea David to dramatize - if possible - further Roberts report with google earth life shots !!
  5. Hey I just noticed that I am now a senior member. Never did understand David's rating system. Seven years riding in Asia and I was only an "average" memeber for a long time.....For some reason the internet cafe here will not pull up your Google pictures David.
    Hopefully you can see some of the wild mountains I went through.
    Am now in Chengdu. I spent the whole day yesterday trying to get a bike plated in my name but could not do get it done. So today I am flying back to Thailand, the land of milk and honey compared to China. Time to regroup and plan the next trip. Am thinking Eastern Europe......
  6. I believe Google Earth is one of the sites that China has blocked. Never thought of that until you mentioned it. The Government censors here are not far behind I am afraid. Hope it doesn't get as restrictive as China.

    Have a safe trip back.
  7. Wrong Way Robert
    It will be good to see you back in Cnx, but Im in Vte right now monitoring map stock around the Kopchaideu.
    I guess I'll have to slip you a grey one when I get back to Cnx early next week.

    Now the rating system on the board relates to the number of posts you contribute; & if you think you've been slow getting rated as a senior member after a mere 7 years riding but are only rated as an "average" member thats' because youve not been contributing enough to the board. Youve been too busy riding & repairing your fleet of bikes. However after your China trip it seems as if you're in & now rated as a senior member. What a co-incidence. How much is an autograph going to cost?
    Dont forget MotoGP at The Downunder tomorrow, where you can start telling the full Tibet Tale to your fellow GT Riders.
  8. Congratulations on an amazing trip.
    Welcome home!
  9. I am too impressed to put it in words. I have made many trips but I have never had to sell my bike to get money to get back home.....Anyhow welcome home to Soi Pattaya Park HIKO

    Ps. I bought a new China map and have surfed on internet seeking China Driving Licence and China Registration. I will follow you!!!!!
  10. Give this man a knighthood!
  11. Hey Hiko !! I did not sell the bike to get money to return home. [:)]
    I sold the damn thing because it quit running. Of course if people start feeling sorry for me feel free to paypal money to my account...
    New plan. Today just finished buying a new Qingqi 200 CC bike. A really nice bike, roughly a thousand times better than Zippy. So the journey continues.. So to my friends lined up at the Kafe ready to buy me beers and listen to China stories you will just have to wait. Pictures of the new ride posted tomorrow. A couple days of prep work and I am on my way north to more adventures.
  12. You really believe that you have enough friends at the Kafe to form a line? You have been at high altitudes for too long. [:D]

    Just kidding. I am glad that you are still going strong and will be anxious to hear how you pulled some of this off.
  13. Bloody hell Roberto, I thought you said you were on the plane back to Cnx & the land of milk & honey...Ive rushed all the way back from Vte to cough up a grey note & you've stood me up by going the "wrong way' yet again.
    So should I head back to Vte & resume mapping the Kopchaideu area, or sit tight in Cnx with your 1,000 baht. Please advise asap as you've got me confused.
    Meanwhile, keep going ya bastard. Im totally envious of your rider status.
  14. Evidently the local food has got to you: just when you thought you had enough, you want some more!
    This adventure is becoming epic.
    Making cross-border trips appear prosaic in comparison.
    Bravo - keep going & keep us posted.
  15. Robert, I just love your journal - absolutely delightful and great shots. I too am bloody jealous of what you are doing but will admit anytime you deserve a medal... this beats going down the Mekong on a waterscooter, does it?
  16. The new ride !!! A Qingqi 200 CC dual purpose bike. Pretty well made, have a feeling the Chinese bikes are moving rapidly up in quality.



    A couple more days here in Chengdu doing some sightseeing, and then off for more adventures.
  18. i think roberts trip has had a knock on affect on other members of the board, recently whilst stopping by the x-centre for some breakfast i was suprised to find that the whole breakfast menu had been replaced with various types of dim sum and dumplings. i was confused at first but then it all clicked into place when i saw the owner mr. ian wong, mao cap perched on that fabulous hair, roll into town on some sort of XRA 250 230 PANTERA . times are certainly changing out at mae wim...
  19. Actually you are quite the "talk of the town" and it is actually positive!!

    I don't think you will have to buy your own drinks for quite some time upon your return.
  20. It was sort of fun getting the bike prepped up and ready to ride. First stop is to go the the mega parts place. Have never even dreamed a place like that existed. Think it was called the parts city, and that was close to reality. There were literally hundreds of small shops selling every conceivable part for small bikes, with most of them specialised. Some shops were only mirrors, some were only suspensions, some only engines, and etc. etc. Within the giant building itself there were little streets of more parts. It was truly amazing.

    Little interior street.

    First up though was some welding pain for the bike. Needed my rear cargo plate attached, and some stand off bars made for the soft bags. It seemed sort of funny to me to own a bike for 18 hours and then be welding away on it..:huh One of the beauties of an inexpensive bike. And yes I disconnected the battery and also the CDI unit before they started. Did not want a " Long Way Around" fiasco with a burned up bike from welding on it.....

    Now bars being fitted. Using my phrase book I indicated to the shop guy that I had been a welder for 4 years. After that they paid a lot more attention to my fabrication advice !!!

    Now time for BLING !!!!! Bought the usual spare parts. Clutch cable, front and back tubes, clutch and brake levers, spare master link, and assorted small stuff.

    Riding around slowly pretty soon I see a very professional looking shop. Parked in front is the motard version of my bike getting a new HID lighting system. Hey !!!!!! Just what I always wanted, a bike with a HID system.:clap How much I ask ?? Answer, about 45 dollars. Yippee bring it on !! Then add in bar ends, hand guards, and some other small things the bike needed. Also changed the oil after only
    200 kilometers just in case there was " residual swarf" floating around. However the oil was perfectly clean. Here the bike is in the middle of its makeover.

    Wired up the bike for the GPS and added in an outlet for the electric vest. Now the bike is ready to rock and roll . I also decided my little Casio pocket camera was not cutting it anymore so went out today and bought a new camera. It is a Sony DSC-H9. Think is about right for me doing a lot of traveling due to its small size. Will start taking pictures tomorrow with it, so if my pictures start looking more " arty" that is why. A couple more days of relaxing here, and then the open road. Chengdu is a nice place, but do not want to be " The sailor who fell from grace from the sea"............But first I need to go check out the pandas.
  21. nice story n travelled bro
  22. ....'little Casio pocket camera was not cutting it anymore so went out today and bought a new Sony DSC-H9.'.....

    I'd been meaning to ask what camera you were using on your junket, as I thought the pix were good quality. Now I know...a Casio? I'm stunned!
    The Sony DSC-H series are great...but too large for my tastes, as I'd prefer a pocket model.

    Looking forward to some 'artsy' pix....
  23. Hi Robert,
    You are conspicuous by you Absence??? Hope all is OK and looking forward to another Report. How is the New Bike Holding up??? Mine seem to be Good, No problems and Plenty of Abuse i will tell you all on your Return. Keep Well.
    Cheers Ian.
  24. See part four.

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