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Old 06-17-2010, 10:09 AM   #46
Smackit OP
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Day 11

It was a bit cold as we got up that morning. Our campsite was at an elevation of 2600 meters (8500 feet) and the mountains blocked any sunlight from coming through. We slowly packed up, each of us wrestling with a small hangover from the previous nights hooch, and then remembered we had promised to stop at the old man's house for a cup of tea before heading on our way. We arrived at his house and he was ready and waiting for us. There was a kettle on the stove and he slowly mixed together a huge hunk of Yak butter with tea, and a few other ingredients, inside a big chandong. He pumped the chandong over and over to churn the mixture, and then strained the concoction into several beautiful porcelain bowls. Not a bad brew, but not something I would choose to drink every day. It goes down like 10W40 and ends up feeling like straight fifty weight sitting in your gut a few hours later. Along with our yack butter tea, he offered us some barley flour. First you throw a big heap of barley flower into your mouth, then you wash it down with some tea. Feels like swallowing concrete. Around eleven o'clock we finally bid him farewell and thanked him for his friendship and hospitality. Here's a picture of the very kind, very friendly, old man. Can you believe he's 76?



What a beautiful day for traveling along the Wuliang River.





A row of stupas with some kids playing alongside the road. I think it was shortly after here that we saw our first four wheel vehicle in almost two days.





Another huge pile of Mani stones.



Women making their way home for lunch after working in the fields all morning.



Around one o'clock we finally reached pavement near the beginning of route S216. It had been two and half days of wonderful dirt riding, and I was a bit sad to be on blacktop again. We noticed Daniel's rear tire was almost flat, so we decided to head north to DaoCheng to find lunch and make repairs. Fortunately it was a slow leak from a small thorn, and the only puncture we experienced during the whole trip.



After a quick blast up this immaculate road, we found a small motorcycle shop and pulled out our spare tube, as they didn't have one in the correct size. We breezed through the tire change and then feasted at one of the towns nicer restaurants. We were all pretty famished from lack of decent food over the last couple days.



We headed back down S216 through more valleys and Tibetan towns as we made our way south towards Yading. The road was in very good condition, with the exception of a few construction areas, and it was starting to become obvious this was a popular tourist route.



Many of the kids along the road would wave and say hello. A stranger occurrence was the number of kids saluting us, I have no idea what that was all about.



I stopped at this beautiful monastery that was still under construction and took a quick peek inside.



We arrived at the town of Riwa around six o'clock after a very rewarding day, time for some punishment. There are three Shangri Las that I know of. One is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Another is the town of Zhongdian, renamed in 2001, to attract tourists. The third is the town we happened to be sitting in at that moment. If you want to ensnare the masses in China, just name your city Shangri La and watch them pour in. I think it's safe to say that if you're in a place named Shangri La, you're definitely not in Shangri La, as I'm sure Mr. Hilton never imagined concrete tiled buildings and tour buses as part of the mystical valley he describes in his book. I'm also quite certain he never envisioned all access to the area would be cut off with the exception of one road that had a toll gate.

The toll into the "Yading Nature Reserve" was 150 Yuan (about $22 US Dollars). Based on per capita income, that would be roughly equivalent to spending $220 US Dollars to look at Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. I'm not a cheap charlie, but if there's one thing I just wont do in China anymore is pay stupid fees to look at nature. I asked the boys if they wanted to go in and they just shook their heads, it wasn't the fee, it was where the fee would end up. [/RANT]

A last picture from the day, just outside of where we were hoping to go camping.



Dejected, we tried to find some other dirt roads but met with heavy construction and more inhospitable terrain. It was getting late and we were losing light. We decided the only safe thing to do was back track towards DaoCheng which was over 100 kilometers away. Fortunately, I remembered seeing a little hot springs resort about 35 kilometers back and we managed to pull in just as it got dark. The place was clean and had a huge hot spring swimming pool. Better yet, the place was mostly empty and they had cold beer. Rewarded again!

Cheers!
ChinaV

Distance = 195 Kilometers - Time = 8:00 Hours - Average Moving Speed = 43 kph

Smackit screwed with this post 04-19-2013 at 10:23 PM Reason: Repaired Photo Links
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:02 PM   #47
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On the side note, what tool are you using to re-size your photos against a white background? I dig it.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:20 PM   #48
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*wants to go to China now*
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Old 06-17-2010, 07:51 PM   #49
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Very intersting RR, thank you.
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:15 PM   #50
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Awesome RR, thanks for posting. The photography is fantastic. How'd your carbed China bikes run at 4400m??
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:25 AM   #51
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China is my dream trip. My sister has a an orphange in Urumqi.
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Old 06-18-2010, 07:23 AM   #52
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Thanks to everyone for more great comments and your patience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Navel
Awesome RR , Any more pics of rice terraces in beautiful Yunnan?
Sadly no, we were on our way to a very special area for that when I had my accident. Fellow inmate, and sometimes drinking buddy, Supersignet made a great trip there last year. Come to think of it, probably his fault I was on that road when I crashed.... link to his ride report and amazing pictures of the terraces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indochine
ChinaV, good stories! So sorry to see you taking those spills. Maybe you need to walk around a stupa (three times?) to change your luck!

Were you wearing a helmet cam when you became an anti-bridge missile?

Last, I thought foreigners, thinking of your State-side friend, couldn't legally ride a bike? Have rules changed or just the "price".

I'll be keeping up with this chronicle, you bet!
Nice to hear from you Indochine, I was indeed wearing the ContourHD helmet cam during the crash. Getting a license in China is still almost impossible without a residence permit. I'm really hoping the Chinese will grow up and start honoring International Drivers Permits soon. It seems ridiculous that they can host an Olympics and the World Expo and still not honor an IDP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zain
I was made to understand that mostly in big cities in China,the motorbike is forbidden. How could you manage to ride at the highway?
Best pics and report.
Yes, motorcycles are banned in almost all the major cities now, they're not worth riding in anyway. Highway? What Highway? The secondary roads have all the good stuff so we never tried to get on the highways as we knew they would never let us on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hot Rodz
Great report. I know exactly what you speak of about time vs. money. I am in Guangzhou most of the time, if you need something and I could help or you pass back thru here and want to have some beers PM me.
Guangzhou.... howdy neighbor, I live in Dongguan, will send you a PM so I can collect my free beers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by a1fa


On the side note, what tool are you using to re-size your photos against a white background? I dig it.
It's a template I made in Adobe Photoshop. Make a layer with the border you want and then scale your photos behind that layer. If you understand what I mean, you will also understand why it takes me so damn long to get this report done

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gormley Green
Awesome RR, thanks for posting. The photography is fantastic. How'd your carbed China bikes run at 4400m??
After 3500 meters the bikes really start to struggle. If I was going to be above that elevation for weeks at a time I would re-jet the bikes. You will see where we hit 4800 meters tomorrow and the bikes felt like they had about 2 horsepower.

More fun and pictures soon

Cheers!
ChinaV
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:52 PM   #53
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Best RR in years, IMO Stunning pics from you guys, you sure have "the eye"!! I'll never get to China, but I'm there already!! Thanks
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:22 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaV
It's a template I made in Adobe Photoshop. Make a layer with the border you want and then scale your photos behind that layer. If you understand what I mean, you will also understand why it takes me so damn long to get this report done
I was wondering about that...
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Old 06-22-2010, 03:59 AM   #55
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Day 12

Sorry for the delay in posting, a few moments of sunshine this weekend and my V-Strom was feeling neglected after weeks of sitting idle.

Another day in paradise as we awoke at the hot springs hotel and prepared to head north. We would be connecting with S217, a road I had previously travelled with CrazyCarl back in 2008, and I was looking forward to one of the climbs that takes you to 4800 meters (15,750 feet) of elevation.



As Felix and I stopped at one of the overlooks, Daniel passed by, and that was last we saw of him for the day. Somehow signals got crossed, and he missed our planned rendezvous in Daocheng. Not a big deal, as we were only going about 250 kilometers, and our end destination of Litang was a pretty small town.



Zooming in for a closer look at a monastery off in the distance.



Felix stopped for a shot of his bike with thousands of prayer flags.



Tibetan script on the hillside in one of the towns we passed through, I'm not exactly sure what it says. From here, Felix and I took a little detour to the peak I mentioned earlier.



To get to this peak, you need to make it up a steep trail. I had climbed it before, but this time wasn't so easy, as the middle section was all ice and the narrow path going up was pretty soft. The bikes were struggling with the elevation and eventually we both had to stop about 25 meters from the summit. We got off and clutched the hell out of the little engines while running along side and pushing. It doesn't sound so difficult, but I assure you, any activity at those elevations feels like running a marathon. We both collapsed at the top and just sat there panting and laughing.



Elevation makes you… stupid.



Trying to jump high enough to get over 4800 meters.



I'm not exactly sure what the message is from Felix, but I love the photo.



Out of nowhere, came a few locals riding a little 125. Their bike made it up without any issue, and they hardly looked bothered by the lack of oxygen.



Relaxing with our new friends at the summit.



We stopped in the snow to throw snowballs at each other.



After our little sojourn to 4800 meters, it was time to make up some time and head to Litang. We passed some more lovely monasteries.



This giant boulder area on S217 is a very strange place.





We took a break about half way to Litang. What an amazing view of the snow capped mountains and the land of giant boulders.





Tuer means rabbit in Chinese, notice the spelling of mountain on the sign.



Can you see the rabbit ears in the background?



Have a closer look.



Everyone managed to make it to Litang and we found Daniel at one of the local hangouts. We all filled our belly's, and stocked up on provisions, before heading out of town with hopes of finding a quiet place to sleep.



We came to this fine establishment and each of us was given one of these cool little buildings for only 30 RMB.



The inside had plenty of room, so we hung out at my place and discussed routes to Chengdu with the owner and his friend. After many hours, beers, and discussion topics, we decided to turn in. It was a rough night sleeping, as we were still at 4000 meters, and the Tibetan dogs yelped continuously until the wee hours of the morning.



Cheers!
ChinaV

Distance = 242 Kilometers - Time = 8:30 - Average Moving Speed = 58 kph

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Old 06-22-2010, 06:48 AM   #56
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those rocks along the road remind me of east san diego on the way to Calexico. I also like the ratio of beer to water. That seems about right.
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Old 06-22-2010, 07:54 AM   #57
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Fantastic report chinaV!!!

I'm soooo jealous!! I was living in Beijing for seven months last year and hoping to come back soon.

Quote:
It's a template I made in Adobe Photoshop. Make a layer with the border you want and then scale your photos behind that layer. If you understand what I mean, you will also understand why it takes me so damn long to get this report done
You probably already know this, but you can make a Photoshop action to automate the border. I made a similar border action for my first trip to China back in 2006: http://barkah.org/Gallery/China/Beijing/

My "border" action resizes the image for the web, adds the border and copyright, then converts to SRGB, while saving the image as a copy so the original is untouched. You can even use the "Automate" menu to batch process all images in a folder through the action. Big time saver for me!
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:31 AM   #58
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Day 13

Apologies for the long delay folks, lets get rolling again.

I tossed and turned throughout the night, a combination of elevation, cold, and howling dogs made sleep almost impossible. I was happy to see first light, and crawled out from under the covers to head for the outhouse. The only positive thing I will ever say about China squatters,... at least you don't have a cold seat when the temperature is -4º C (25ºF). As the sun slowly made its way over the hills, I could feel it warming up and was greeted with the most stunning view of snow capped mountains and grasslands.



We had a very simple goal for the day, 200 kilometers on G318, stock up on provisions, and make camp at a "secret spot" CrazyCarl introduced me to in 2008. The weather changes quickly on the plateau, and it wasn't looking good as dark grey clouds began rolling in.



We made our way down G318, a shit road that will challenge the suspension of any vehicle. Deep ruts from thousands of overloaded trucks kept things interesting, and just to be sure you never relaxed, dozens of 4X4 Land-cruisers blasted by with the arrogance only the wealthy can posses.



As we approached the turnoff for the campsite, I realized the town we were supposed to resupply in was nothing more than a single concrete building without food or water. It was still quite early, so we decided to head for the site and figure out the provision issue later. The wind was howling while we searched for a spot, and we hoped something would offer shelter from the huge gusts blowing across the plateau.



After staking our claim, I decided to be the supply guy and headed out to see what I could find. I rode for an hour, then came upon a child eating candy and asked where she got it. She pointed at a house and her grandmother shouted out to the owner to let me in. You would never have guessed this was the general store for the village, it looked no different from the other houses, and there were no signs of any kind. There was almost no inventory, but they did have plenty of beer. I tried to explain that I wanted bottled water, but they just looked at me as if to say, "what kind of idiot would pay money for water in a bottle?" After a little discussion, they brought some empty orange juice containers and filled them with hot water from the kettle on the stove. Boiled water in a reusable container, who'd have thought that would work? God help the water industry if that secret ever gets out. I noticed a huge pile of firewood and asked if I could buy some, they helped me load my bike with as much as I could carry and insisted on giving it to me instead of taking payment. I paid for the beer and other items and thanked them, by this time most of the village had gathered and I can just imagine the discussion that went on after I left.



As I pulled into camp, the boys were standing there in awe of the scenery and practically frozen. They were elated at seeing all of the firewood and beer and we set out to make some dinner.



Fine dining at 4400 meters (14,435 feet).



Just as dinner was ready, the wind died down and we went from surviving to camping. It became very quiet and the setting sun would poke through the clouds, occasionally illuminating the giant peaks off in the distance. This was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip and camping there was one of my best experiences ever in China.



Although we had plenty of wood, we didn't have plenty of oxygen. After many attempts at getting the fire to go, we finally resorted to gasoline. Even that would just die after several seconds of giant flames, so Felix spent the better part of an hour blowing on the coals. Somehow he finally managed to get it going. Caveman TV...my favorite.



Cheers!
ChinaV

Distance = 252 Kilometers - Time = 5:00 - Average Moving Speed = 49 kph

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Old 06-29-2010, 09:30 AM   #59
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Simply an epic view into something most of us will never experience, thank you for taking the time to share your adventures with all of us.

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Old 06-29-2010, 12:03 PM   #60
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reusable water bottles and cave man tv.......aint it the truth!
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