First steps in China

At the discovery of one of the oldest civilization in the world!

Welcome to China!

Here we are on Sunday, March 15 at the Sino-Vietnamese border. The passage of the Customs is smoothly on both sides, and no baksheesh is claimed. It is a bridge over the "Red River" that separates the two countries.
Side Chinese, it is rather impressed by the modernity of the border with passport reading machine. For pedestrians, there's scanning of luggage as in airports. For us who enter with scooters, customs officers throw just a look to two bags, we ask that is not meat, and... rolling my chicken!
That's it, we are in China for 1 and a half months. A certain euphoria seizes us: China, if mythical country, this complex culture, here go US! And everything finally so easy summer, demand for visas at the border crossing! It sounds a little crazy to be there, it feels like in chinatown... except that this chinatown fact almost 20 times France !
In short, as arrival in a new country, it is necessary to find money of the country (and only some banks accept foreign cards here), a SIM Internet map (it stings! Not given Internet in China!). It shifts an hour (more); watches and we are ready to discover this country!

On the road!

The first 15 kilometres of road are in work, you eat dust, there are eyes that sting whenever a truck passes (that is, every 2-3 minutes). It gives us a first glimpse of the work in China: it will not the spoonful! After a few kilometres of this road, we cross an English cyclo which reassures us: this road is exceptional and most are just perfect for the riders!
Short after only 30 km in China, asked the tent, near a farm where they raise ducks, pans, and epic pork (you've seen epic pork on a farm you?). It happens as it had narrated us it for China: when asked the local agreement, as soon as they understood what we wanted (by dint of gestures and using the G' palémo - let's all beat you to the games of mimes in returning!), there is no hassle to install the tent not far.
It goes below, between a field of banana trees and the River, quiet for the evening! We enjoy the day that remains to make the first small adjustments on our bikes who suffered a little between the mountains of Laos and the rain to the Viet Nam. We find the pleasure of camping in nature.
In the morning, you get some bananas of a tree fell to the ground, ca will make us will be our breaks taste! It runs along the red for two days, River until Yuanyang. Our small road is all new, little frequented, and double a motorway more height (which is not much bandwidth air-why all these new roads for so few people?). It is in a beautiful valley, with mountains all around covered with fields of fruit trees (bananas, papayas, mangoes, pineapple...). There are very few villages on the road, all 15 or 20 kms not less. And then there's almost more animals (buffaloes, cows, goats...) in freedom at the edge of the road.
With the arrival in China there is also the Sun and the extreme heat of the early afternoon. Breaks in the shade for lunch or drink a much Coke charges are much pleasant. And very often there is a small group of people (often older, but not always), who plays Chinese chess, mahjong, etc.

There's the Chinese hospitality.

For our second night in China, we saw a sign for cascades at 800 m, it is necessary to climb a bit. Arrived above, we are told that it is again after but one may well ask the tent. Continue, continue... After 4 km climb, a small village but still no trace of these waterfalls... it forfeits and asked a bandwidth where to place the tent: ben on the basketball court! This is perfect for us.
We seeing the nearby invites us to dinner. We are soon surrounded by a dozen of Chinese. Verbal communication is almost impossible but we arrive at good laugh anyway! It may even take a hot shower before returning to the tent to bed, the luxury.
After 70 km a bit more hilly and wind instead, you arrive at Yuanyang. In a stall on the street, it falls on... of strawberries! We can not resist the urge to buy, but as there is that big tickets, but we are forced to take 1 kg! You will love beautiful Banana-Strawberry fruit, yoghurt with salads, delicious!
After dinner, it made a small tour in the city and central park on hallucinates a bit! Full of groups settled there, with a small sound system, and they dance. There are all the styles: the rather Chinese dance to a more athletic style. Free sport courses for all! In fact it is found in all cities.

45 kms of climb, 35 kms from descent!

The next day, we decide to continue our road to the North and do not go to the tourist rice terraces of Yuanyang because it makes a good detour. It will regret a bit, seeing the pictures of other travelers. But without this choice, we would not have met Li Hen, a Chinese cyclo's return of 3 months in Southeast Asia.
We know we have about 40kms from climb today! It crosses Li Hen at the beginning of this climb; He speaks English well, it is great to be able to Exchange on his country and many other topics. Quietly, getting into a not too steep road, with trees to shade (it smells good pine!), and really nice views! There is little traffic, and the few trucks that go up are struggling to cross those who go down.
It is meals on lunch at the roadside without resto before the 40th kilometer. 4: 30 p.m., we are at the top! After 45 kms from rise in 5 h 30, pedaling, we at 1975 m altitude! Sherri!
Li Hen has reserved in a hostel for tonight at 35kms from there. It is well gouged, one doubts can do all this way and more! But ultimately is a lot of runs and you arrive at Jianshui at 7 pm. Here is a beautiful day: 80 km and 2000 m elevation difference on the day, a record for us!
There's a very nice downtown, old China like in the movies. The youth hostel is in a renovated traditional House. After a dinner in the city where Li Hen ordered us the best dishes from the map, found at the Inn a dozen of young Chinese around beers and a guitar. One of them is full of traditional Chinese songs in languages of different ethnic groups. A couple of Canadian francophone gives repartee with beautiful pieces style American cowboy. It was the smile that does not answer!
You decide to stay a day in this pretty town. It will be beneficial for our thighs also! We go in a bike shop change our chains which are quickly damaged ("only" 3000kms, they are supposed to make 5000), surely because of the efforts that were asked in the mountains. It did a bit of tourism: the bridge of the double dragon, one of the oldest bridge in China. the temple of Confucius, ancient University, hyper calm and zen. Evening, before the historic gateway to the city, we find again the people dancing on the square.

En route to Kunming

Our thighs less painful, we leave on Friday, March 20, to continue our route to Kunming. Li Hen finished there his journey by bicycle, it is again both. During the first 15 kilometres, the pollution stings us the nose and throat, it is impressive. It is in a white cloud... While this is not a so big town that much!
Then Phew! found the campaign, and our little road climbs among pine and eucalyptus trees, traverse the valleys full of fields of potatoes and other crops. Multiply stops to try to regulate the bikes: the mechanic of the store in there touching more disrepair that arranged things. ..
Evening found a little place not grown where we can put the tent. At 1700 m above sea level, the night will be fresh! 6 ° to the counter in the morning. But quickly during the day it is again well hot!
Late morning, it made a small detour to Xingmeng, a Mongolian village, the last of the Yunnan (the mongols invaded China in the 13th century). It is a village of mud houses, the women are dressed in traditional clothes. And there is even no other tourists unlike what was feared.
In back is a domestic courts where people are eating, it is 11:30. Is it a restaurant? Asked if you can eat here, we are told that Yes; a man made us great signs and we invited to his table. There are several women in traditional clothing. There are a dozen dishes on the table, each in spades with chopsticks; It is quite spicy, but delicious! We realize that this is probably not a restaurant, but a lunch in the village. They bring large... filled teapots of rice alcohol! We spend a great time and again once the language barrier prevents us not good laugh. We shall never know that it was really (village fete? Association?). But it is distributed well full belly and head a little numb, without having spent 1 yuan (told koai in this region) and in having had a super time.
Always plenty of crops on the ground in this region of altitude (1700 m!), and in particular the cabbages. We arrive a little later at the Fuxian Lake, and it falls as a great resort for Chinese. It deviates a bit and found a super spot to sleep facing the Lake. Okay, normally the Wild camping was not allowed here but it has been very discreet. We spend the night to the sound of Chinese cicadas...

Last day before Kunming.

After leaving the Lake, you climb over 10kms. The ascent is punctuated by the hot breath of the trucks that double us, ghanekar, not very pleasant. At the Summit, we at 2175 m!

The descent is much better because the road is in the works, we take full of dust in the eyes. Back on the shelf at 1800 m above sea level, 40 km before Kunming, one arrives in the suburbs of the city! It built around: highways, buildings, railway...

In the middle of buildings

We eventually get inside the city. Kunming is the capital of Yunnan, not less than 5 million inhabitants; our first big Chinese city. Ouch, this is awesome! Buildings everywhere, but nevertheless, efforts were made so that life is more pleasant. We are surprised by the amount of greenery: trees along the avenues, flower beds, etc. And level circulation, this is top: on all major routes, there is a way well separated for two wheels. And scooters: they are almost all electric: it is much quieter! Ok, the time to do super goof, we do not hear them arrive. Well, we liked walking cycling in these huge avenues.
It was also making a point of our bikes at Hui Lee: it is warmshower and runs a bike shop. We are super happy to find someone who speaks English and can advise us on what change to our bikes. And he eventually invite us to dinner with his family. Once more, one regales oneself from lots of different dishes! What we eat well and varied in China!

We leave the next day in the direction of Dali... by bus! After hours of hesitations, it was decided to continue to ride in the mountains of Yunnan, and to leave the other riders. patches released. A crazy day waiting for us the next day...

Small additional anecdotes...

– Cocorico ! On voit souvent des voitures Peugeot ou Citroën ; à chaque fois, Thomas est tout fou de revoir ici ces voitures qu’il connaît bien.
-maps Google Maps: seen tensions between the company and the Chinese, google maps are not accurate! In fact they are offset by about 100 or 200 m compared with the reality. Suddenly if you look on openrunner the difference... it is fear! 15% on nearly 50kms, mind-blowing total altitude slopes... In short, before understanding the problem we had a few frights. In the end, the roads here are pretty darn gradual, happiness for a cyclo!
-the Chinese class: what we saw: women very classes, many in high heels or traditional clothes in the villages. However men much less classes and with the mania to reassemble the Tshirt and show their belly. It makes it start!
-It built everywhere... and we saw much of large residential tower brand new... completely empty! Offer more to request...

– et pour finir : à l’entrée de la Chine, on a vu plein de ces arbres…
Found very majestic. Could someone tell us their real name? (We on called them... sacred trees)