More and more top!
After many hesitations, we decided to go to rub shoulders with the altitude of the mountains of Yunnan (rather than the region of Guilin Karst rocks). Why this choice rather than another? The beauty of the landscapes, few tourists and urbanization of this area, and then in addition, two other riders will ride with us: Emilie and Jeremiah, the patches released !
But before you find them, a crazy day ahead of us...
En route to Dalí... a very long day!
Tuesday, March 24, 2015, we leave the capital of Yunnan, Kunming (and its 6 million inhabitants), in the southeast of China. A day full of surprises starts...
First, after a hundred metres, there are the hover of Thomas after sliding bicycle on mud in an alley - a real ice rink! More fear (and dirt) than harm!
Once arrived at the bus station, the driver asks us 100 yen (yuan) per bike. Niet, patches have told us that they had paid nothing. Discussed, there even the regulation on the phone, they do not want to let go of the case. We ended up crack and fall agreed to 100 ¥ wholly (or €15 all the same) and the bus can finally start 30 minutes late. It is 11: 00.
15 h, mega caps on the highway, the driver takes a small mountainous road that add us at least 1-hour trip on 5 hours provided for in the base. It catches up with the highway a little more away.
5: 00 p.m., the bus stops a few metres from a tunnel. We understand that it will not resume immediately. People are descended from the bus, some want to end up on foot, but ravisent when they learn that there is still another 8km. We are told to go there by bike, but "be carefull, snow"; eh, but it's 13 °?
We therefore are cycling, alone on the empty Highway, downhill! Finally, 2 or 3 kms further on, there is an accident with some trucks, but no snow - rain had to the slippery road. It quickly leaves the motorway, relieved all the same, and you enter in the city. Still us have 15 km to reach the ancient city of Dali. It is 18 h.
My bike starts to make a fairly disturbing noise on the rear wheel. We stop several times tighten the spokes, but it does not completely calm things... We eventually get around 7 pm in the old town, where Emily and Jeremy arrived a few days ago. We have only the name of their hotel; no luck there are several with the same name! No answer to our emails, and it is the only way we have to contact them.
It is 8:30 pm when you receive a response to our emails and you arrive to find them! PHEW!
They met around a dinner well deserved after this crazy day! By the way, it allows us to quickly discover the city, pretty but black tourists.
Too cool to ride as a team!
Ride with other cyclists is always a good experience that we appreciate. Emilie and Jeremiah were the same age as us, they also travel bike for a year around the world, and they are Grenoble. Topics are not full!
We are therefore left all together. From the old town of Dali, we drive along the Lake and its beautiful white and grey traditional-style houses with their roofs with pointed tips. What is super here in Yunnan, it is that even the new constructions are made in the style of the old.
It is our first pass all the afternoon, 10 or 15 km of gentle climb; the first pass of a long series...
Camp tonight, it will be in a village, sheds. The village children surround us during part of the evening, just curious and excited to see us there.
The next day, we met a group of cyclos. An American and a Chinese in recumbent bike... you realize after a while that they are in fact paraplegic! They "cycle" with their arms. They are accompanied by a valid American cyclo and a car. But apart from that, like us they make wild camping, between 70 and 100kms per day, and they arrived from the North, Shangri-La and the peaks of Yunnan; they end up a journey of several months in China. They will meet other paraplegics to publicize the bicycle lying in China practice. A beautiful project that impressed us!
Throughout the day, there's beautiful green valleys of fields of wheat and beans. End of the day, a storm looks off. Seeking to host in the course of housing, but the villagers seem to be a little afraid. A young find us a small house in brick at the edge of the fields, perfect! A family--a couple and their three daughters--lives in two of these same small houses... that is to say with really not much! And despite their poverty, they invite us to dinner. The richest of the village did not want to leave us a few square metres of their court, but them prepare us a feast. We thank them as we can by offering girls the fruits bought in the day, which they eat with appetite.
We are 35 kms from Lijiang, distance that we swallow easily in the morning. Lijiang is an old town UNESCO; It lies on a vast plateau at 2400 m above sea level, but the environment is the same if it was 400 m, it's crazy! The old town has retained its traditional wooden houses in Yunnan; except that with Chinese mass tourism, these are almost more restaurants, shops to tourists, or even a street dancing bars that put music at bottom from 6 pm... Motherhood... Is Disneyland less funny, there is no neither Pluto nor Aladin, it looks more like a city...
We walk again the next day, Saturday, March 28. After a few climbs on a little busy highway, we have our first landscapes of mountains of Yunnan. And on a small hill, a temple, overlooking the entire Valley; true, we see our first prayer flags.
We then enjoys a long descent from 25 km to catch a river that will lead us... to the Tiger leaping Gorge. The Summit of the mountain can be seen Yulongxue shan5600 m, and its glaciers, overlooking the gorges (1800 m) we will visit the next day. But before attacking the gorges, we decide to spend the night just before, in a field, at the gateway to the gorges.
The Tiger leaping Gorge
Sunday, March 29, we engouffrons in the famous Tiger leaping Gorge. There are the bad surprise to see how much the Chinese transform nature into tourist attraction: €10 for access to a mountain road...
But it's worth, the gorges are magnificent. Increasingly it is lucky, it makes great beautiful. After a few kilometres, you can access a lookout above Rapids, where many cars stop. It's always funny to observe Chinese tourists take pictures of everything and anything, make weird heads for their selfiesetc.
After this belvedere, very few are tourists who continue: we find ourselves almost alone on the road. The River in the background, rocks falling steeply, a few snow-capped... It is blown away! Thomas is at bottom, it does not stop to take photos and videos. It stops at Walnut villagea pretty village in the Gorge. There is a basketball court, spot perfect dodo. Banco, it will sleep there that night.
In the morning, continue our route towards the end of the Gorge; the landscape opens onto a whole flat plain. The contrast is striking!
Behind, it is again the climb; We pass in a pine forest that reminds us all of the South of the France. 23kms later, we at 2860 m! It's beautiful!
Small concern bike for me in the village of Habba, it changes my room air. Another pass later, and stunning views of the peaks (which still one of 5000 m), one goes to Baishutai, and its terraced wheat fields. There is a guest house for a hot shower and recharge the batteries a bit... but a power outage disrupts our plans. The owner of the guest prepares us a good dinner in the light of the candle... and the help of our front.
That's it, we go up to 3000!
The next day, we begin direct by a 14 km climb, I have legs that are unable to heat up, morale takes a shot. Hard, hard... You reach a col at 3200 m: it starts to get serious! After a lunch at the stove in a village below, regrimpe again... for 15kms! We are at 3600 m! With the fatigue of the day, it feels like our first effects of altitude: slight dizziness for some, small drowsiness for others. But we are too proud to be got there! Told to be 4 makes things easier and helps motivate themselves in difficulties. Just for two, it would surely not arrived as "easily". Up there, it's 9 °; After a few memories, it does not lag and is quickly attacked the 8 km of downhill!
Downstairs is a super spot dodo in a mini Valley, where two yaks are watching us install us air completely indifferent. Having regard to all the wood there, the boys launch a good Campfire and if atelent to build... a table! A few wooden planks and my old air Chamber cut into thong... we are having dinner at the corner of too much installed fire!
We spend a good night, though a bit fresh, while similarly to 3200 m altitude. In the morning, a few drops of rain we had in the night were snow aloft: the peaks were cleared.
Local warned us: that goes a little, and then it descends before flatten before Shangrila. Indeed, one regrimpe 14 km: we reach our highest pass, at 3720 m! Well rested, there was no effect of altitude. The descent is beautiful, but a wind face damn slows down us! In the Valley, one realizes that the architecture of the houses has changed: houses mi wood - mi torchi, very thick walls, a style that begins to make us think in Tibet. There's more besides stupas and prayer flags. It's crazy to be arrived by bike!
We advance gently, tailed Lory, protecting each other wind.
You eventually arrive at Shangrila, city at 3300 m above sea level.
It spends two days in the old city of Shangrila... or rather that remains since it burned much there a little more than a year. There is still some old houses and the temple on the Hill in the centre of the city. But a big part is under full reconstruction: workers are working hard to give back to the city its image of front.
Shangrila is a large plain surrounded by mountains, which some are snowy. Tibet is close behind the highest mountains... but even if Thomas would dream to go there for a walk, passing through Tibet we is prohibited. We will have to "settle" for Northern Yunnan, less top, seems to look a little.
After this good rest, we are ready to continue... some beautiful passes ahead.
- The Chinese and photos: in France, they still impress us taking pictures of everything... Ben they are such in their countries. And we are often taken for target! With or without our bikes, they love ask us to take a picture with them!
- It has already told you, you eat too well in China! Initially, facing large refrigerators was somewhat lost. Now it has the habit: it shows finger what one wants, and they cook dishes with it, that we share together with a large portion of rice. Our faves: aubergines, beans, patties of grated potatoes... And the cool thing to be at 4 it is that you can test more different stuff at every meal. It's always a little spicy but not too much!