Posts Tagged ‘China’


An imaginary line circles the globe at 23.43724 degrees north – where the sun reaches directly overhead on mid-summer day. I crossed this line today, and am now officially in the tropics.

On the Tropic of Cancer

On the Tropic of Cancer

I am on the couch out the front of the little shop in the tiny village. The sun is shining brightly, and I sit in the shade, devouring my ice-creams. Inside, in the gloom, the television is running – a daytime soap – in Chinese. The drama and suspense oozes from the television as the breathless woman’s voice pleads with her handsome lover. The music adds to the suspense, as I listen from outside. The little old woman who sold me the ice-creams watches inside with bated breath. Outside, the village is peaceful. The sun is all-powerful. Nothing moves. Then, a motorbike pulls up. The boy buys some cigarettes and then rides off into the glare. I study the map.
The woman taps me on the shoulder. She hands me a big chunk of gingerbread cake. She smiles and nods as I thank her with my eyes. In her eyes I see her inner peace and her kindness. ‘Good on ya, lad. This is for you!’

The up-and-down cycling was interspersed with stops in the villages. One village was fruit gorging time. A few dragon fruit, pears, apples and grapes. One village was ice-creams. One village was real food. It is slow going – it is never flat, and often quite steep. It is beautiful, though, cycling through this mountainous, tropical landscape.

The morning mist lifts

The morning mist lifts

River

River

The valley

The valley


My piss is red! A quick google. The dragon fruit is the culprit. I ate two of them just next to where they were growing. The woman was asleep at her table when I arrived, in the shade under the umbrella, next to the plants. I’m cycling through dragon fruit land!

Dragon fruit

Dragon fruit

The road follows the river, rising above it, then dropping down, only to rise again. Above the river I cycle through dense greenery, in the cool shade, with the cicadas. They are almost deafening, their call rising to a crescendo and then subsiding in waves. I hear the hoot of a bird – unknown to me, but, it sounds tropical. I can just imagine its bright colours and impressive plumage. The hills around me are very pointy, rising steeply from the valley. They are all densely covered in tropical green. The air is humid, and a comfortable temperature in the early 20s. How everything has changed from the barren, cold mountains I have left.

River

River

River

River

Field

Field


Today was bumpy. Like in Finland, the bumps are 50m down and 40m up. On and on. So, I went down a valley, but it was hard work. The scenery was nice – seeing more palm trees now.

Mountains

Mountains

The road down

The road down


I could hear the crickets and the cicadas. The sun was out, it was warm, and there were eucalyptus trees. I got all teary. It felt more familiar – in some ways it felt like Australia. But it was foreign too. Chinese writing, markets and food stalls. And more tropical plants. I am entering the tropics!

Familiar trees

Familiar trees

It has been cold and wet. It has been hilly. The going has been very slow. The daily displacements have been small – 100km on windy roads doesn’t bring you far as the crow flies. Today the sun came out. The road was still hilly, but, with the familiar vegetation and the warmth, it felt like I was cycling on a different planet.

Valley

Valley

Yesterday was another rest day – in Dali. When it’s raining, the urge to cycle is low. I was in Dali with Ann and Liam (the English name I gave him), and we had a nice walk to a temple on the mountain behind Dali.

Me, Ann and Liam

Me, Ann and Liam

Day 233. 108km. Diannan – Dali

Posted: December 31, 2015 in China, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

Grey. A bit of rain. I wanted to get to Dali to catch up with Ann and Liam, who I spent the day with in Lijiang. It was cycling straight ahead in the cold, to arrive at the tourist destination of Dali. Oh. I passed 20000km in reality (not just celebrated it).

2000km

2000km

Fields

Fields


A fixed bike and a rest day in Lijiang, including an early 20,000km celebration, meant I was all ready to continue on towards Dali. It was grey with a few drops of rain, making for a rather uninteresting ride.

The scenery is changing

The scenery is changing

Thank-you Ann – one of the friends I met in the Tiger Leaping Gorge. She spent all afternoon looking around Lijiang for a bike shop that would try to help me. She was doing this while I was destroying the screw holding my frame together in Shigudiqing.

After about half an hour of despair in the bike shop, where the screw refused to budge, finally, after a bit of RX7 lubricant and elbow grease, the guy in the shop finally got it to move, and we were able to fit the new carbon drive.

I decided to stay in Lijiang and spend the day with Ann rather than return in the car to Shigudiqing to continue today in the rain.

American lunch

American lunch

20000km

20000km


It’s good it didn’t happen in the long tunnel forbidden for bicycles. It happened just before the road turned into a dual-carriageway. In the rain. Uphill. My ‘carbon-drive’ – what I use instead of a chain – made of Kevlar and unbreakable – broke. Without being able to pedal, I rode down the hill I had just climbed to the first little village, and stopped to contemplate.

Broken Carbon Drive

Broken Carbon Drive

I have a reserve carbon-drive, but to put it on, you have to pull apart the frame at the one point the frame is connected by a screw. A screw that it is rusted and not movable. A screw that destroyed two Allen keys, and was mangled itself in the process. I have now arranged a taxi to the nearest bigger town – Lijiang, to see if the bike shop there can unscrew my screw. Fingers crossed.

My time in the Tiger Leaping Gorge meant that I met three new friends, whom I walked through the gorge with. We walked through the green, in the bright, warm sun, gazing at the line of teeth-like pointy grey rocky mountains, reaching in to the heavens on the other side of the river. It was gorgeous.

Tourist stuff.. :-)

Tourist stuff.. 🙂

Come Inn

Come Inn

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Teeth mountains

Teeth mountains

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge