Posts Tagged ‘China’


My arrival in Luang Namtha sees the end of my delayed posts of my cycle trip through China. Like for the rest of my trip, I have put together a little video. This video is of the section from Xiahe to Luang Namtha. I hope you like it!


I have left the People’s Republic of China, and am now in Laos. I staggered over the border – I have spent all my energy cycling in China, and am ready for a tropical rest in Laos.

Na Teuy

Na Teuy

I started on the old road today. I curved its way around the landscape as expected, but, was the centre of much roadwork activity. With the peace gone, the road surface only OK, and delays while trucks did their thing, I returned to the new road, went through tunnels, and got to the border faster.

I am staying in a little village 20km over the border in Laos. Another 35km tomorrow to Louang Namtha and then a rest while I wait for Mark (who cycled with me in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) to join me.

Na Teuy

Na Teuy


The old road on the map got even wigglier and steeper than yesterday. Today I didn’t see the cycling forbidden signs, and cycled smoothly up and downhill on the new road that rarely was on land – either on massive stilts above the valley, or in carbon monoxide tunnels. I saved about 50km,10000 kcal and one day of cycling.

Banana plantation

Banana plantation

Motorbikes were also forbidden, which didn’t deter anyone. I must have cycled past at least a dozen policemen. The road was OK to cycle on.
The valleys were very steep and absolutely dense in the greenest of green foliage. Looking down from my lofty perch on a bridge, the jungle below reigned supreme. I could not help but think how hard it would have been cycling here, on the old road.

Misty mountains

Misty mountains

Mengla is the last sizable town in China. Laos – here I come!


While curving my way up and down and around and around, I wondered what the fractal dimension was of this road. I wondered this when regarded as projected onto a 2-dimensional space (like a map), or when in its true 3-d space. In 2 dimensions, taking a scaling factor ε=1/3, and using the formula

I think the fractal dimension is the same as the Koch Curve – namely 1.2619.

Equally nerdy, I remembered the puzzle – if you have 100km to go, you can go 50km, and then have 50 to go. Then, if you go 25, you have 25 to go. Then, going 12.5, you have 12.5 to go. If you continue halving the distance travelled, you never reach the 100km. This is how I felt, winding my way in ever tighter curves, towards the Laos border. All the while either climbing or falling on the steepest of steep slopes. Its beautiful, but tomorrow I’m taking the main road with long, badly ventilated tunnels. I’ve had it with hills.

The valley

The valley

It's hilly

It’s hilly

It's hilly

It’s hilly

It's hilly

It’s hilly


My bum hurts. There is no respite from the constant up and down, and today I crawled into Mengyang rubbing my backside. It got a good workout.

Tea fields

Tea fields

I cycled the ‘old road’ which winds around every corner, climbs and drops over every undulation. The neighbouring freeway rests on stilts, flattening the landscape and smoothing the ride. Then it leaves off into a tunnel, only to be seen 30km of wiggles later. The old road is almost void of vehicles. This is so precious. I realise that the constant noise of cars has been deafening. Traffic noise pulls the conscious away from the now, away from nature, and into a whir of stress. I cycled through a cacophony of nature. The jungle is loud. The constant background of crickets and cicadas, with a high-pitched cricket variant. Then the birds. Frogs. I cycle, listening, immersing myself in this natural paradise. Every turn reveals new trees, plants, animals, and new sounds.

And then I heard of the elephants. Excitement. Imagine seeing an elephant on the road. The elephants are to be found in the ‘Wild Elephant Valley’, amongst the busloads of elephant watchers. I rode straight past, and back into the chirps of the cicadas.

The road

The road

This morning was a market breakfast, followed by the realisation that Sydney is only 8973km.

The market in Puwen

The market in Puwen

Not far to Sydney

Not far to Sydney


Tea covering the steep, green hills. And now banana plantations. It gets lusher and lusher. And no less strenuous.

The tea hills

The tea hills

The day’s cycle is determined by the passes. I sleep at the bottom of them, and do one, or at most two 500-600m climbs in a day. The rest of the day is up and down anyway. Today I’m at the bottom of the next 500m climb, in the banana plantation village of Puwen.

The tea hills

The tea hills

The tea hills

The tea hills

The tea hills

The tea hills


The high passes follow each other without a break in between. Climb 500m, drop 500m, then directly up 600m, then down. I stopped early in Ning’er leaving the next 600m climb for tomorrow – opting for an afternoon siesta instead.

The mountains

The mountains

The silence of the high plains has been replaced by crickets, cicadas and birds. The yaks have been replaced by water buffalo. The mountains have been replaced by.. mountains. I am inching forward towards the Laos border. My displacement each day from the day before looks small to me on the map, but I know what climbs have been conquered. This will not be a fast dash.

Water buffalo

Water buffalo