Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 89 Fri 24/09 - Xia Guan 下关 to Ancient City of Dali 大理古城

Today Distance : 23.4 km        Total : 4589.2 km
Today Weather : 20 - 28C      Sunny
Time On Bike : 1 hr  36 min
Ave Speed : 14.5 kmh             Max : 26.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 2 %                       Max : 3 %
Trip Altitude : 104 m                Max : 1990 m
Today Spend : 154 rmb             Total : 1140 rmb

Knowing it will be a short ride to Dali, I started off a little later than normal on a very wide,flat and smooth road. Along this short distance road to the city,I noticed that everything is so orderly,clean and beautiful,the plants and flowers by the roadside were well maintained, the streets so clean with hardly any rubbish, a very big contrast between a tourist town and a normal town.I had heard so much about Dali back home, and since this is my first time here, what Dali has to offer, hopefully will not be disappointing.Dali is a big city! but my target as well for all other tourists, is at the ancient city located some 18 km north from the city, around the beautiful Lake Erhai  . After having a quick breakfast of beef noodles in a Muslim shop, the friendly woman owner provided all the information I needed, I started the ride on a well tarmac road, from here I say goodbye to G320 road which continues going west, instead now I am heading north on a new road G214.On my right is the lowland where the Lake Erhai is, and the left is the towering Mt Cangshan. The mountain slope is where the ancient city lies. There is a gentle climb of about 500m before you came to one of the many gate entrances where many of the tour buses parked. I found one of the hotel just nearby and promptly paid for 2 nights stay, just love the room with teak wood furnitures and its cosy enviroment . The lady initially asked for 80 yuan per night, I managed to bargain down to 70 yuan and paid 140 yuan  for 2 nights. There is no entrance fee to this touristic ancient city, so overall I am happy so far.

                                      Towards the beautiful clean city of dali
                                                      Are they Chinese or Westerner ?
                                                        The Train station in Dali
                                          Green city park, well maintained and clean
                                          Stylish entrance gate of a housing project
                                   Tourism billboard on the Lake Erhai and the Mt Cangshan

         The very standard building colours of Dali - grey roofs with white walls

                                         500 m gentle climb to the ancient city of Dali

A section of the ancient city with Mt Cangshan at the back
Gate entrance for tourist
My hotel  
                                                  With a very traditional Chinese garden
She is camera shy....
                                                  Love this room 140 yuan for 2 nights


Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 88 Thu 23/09 - Xia Zhuangzhen to Xia Guan

Today Distance : 93.6 km        Total : 4565.8 km
Today Weather : 20 - 33C      Sunny
Time On Bike : 6 hr  48 min
Ave Speed : 13.7 kmh             Max : 56.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%                       Max : 9%
Trip Altitude : 925 m                Max : 2242 m
Today Spend : 61 rmb             Total : 986.0 rmb

A day of long riding with mixed terrains,uphills,downhills,bad roads,good roads, passing a number of small villages and farming fields of paddies,corn and tobacco. Talking about tobacco, on my observation since entering China, 7 out of 10 Chinese are smokers and mostly are male, very seldom I see women smokers, even in the city, maybe the culture here is , young women smokers very hard to find boyfriend, and the married women smokers get scolding or may even get divorce from their husbands.Unlike their European counterparts, female smokers more than the male. There are a wide range of tobacco brands in the market in terms of quality and prices. The price for a pack can range from 2 - 100 yuan over.While quality of  a cigarette can be very personal, the expensive one might not suit your taste,so basically burning money, the more i look at it ,is for showing off their status, even the not so rich. And the Chinese smokers like to offer cigarettes to show their friendliness, especially in situation when they need helps.Understand this norm, so it is wise for me to carry them while on the road. There is one place I passed particularly caught my attention is the making of granite slabs for graveyard, the process include breaking,sawing,polishing,carving and painting.They are huge and tall with prices from 5000 to over 20000 yuan a piece. Soon I came to a superb wide road with lots of decorated carving giant stones of chinese writings,indications are that I am close to Dali.As usual I don't intend to stay in the city at this late hour, I prefer to explore in the morning. Xia Guan is my stay tonight, I saw a " binguan" sign on other side of road but it was quite hidden behind a truck workshop, 35 yuan for a std room, no towel,no soap but with aircond and tv.
                                                                 Tobacco farm
                                                          Harvested tobacco leafs
                                                                 Cow homes
                                                                   Granite industry
                                                  Granite caving and painting
                                                 They are huge and tall
                               Rock decoration on a superb wide road to Dali
                                                   Telecom tower up on the hill
                                          Hidden hotel in Xia Guan behind a workshop

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 87 Wed 22/09 - Shaqiaozhen Camp to Xia Zhuangzhen

Today Distance : 47.0 km        Total : 4472.2 km
Today Weather : 18 - 32C      Cloudy
Time On Bike : 4hr  26 min
Ave Speed : 10.5 kmh             Max : 41.0kmh
Ave Climb : 4%                       Max : 21%
Trip Altitude : 612 m                Max : 2353 m
Today Spend : 60 rmb          Total : 925.0 rmb

A sudden unexpected rain in the early hour of 3.30am woke me up from my tent. The rain was not too heavy, but because my tent was set up at the lower end of the cement walkway, the rain water flows slowly and gather around the base of my tent. As I was busy cleaning up the water and rearranged my staff. The guesthouse owner came with a torch to my rescue by opening one of the room, so that I can shift all my staff and the tent inside to continue my sleep in a warm, comfortable dry bed. A big TQ from the bottom of my heart to this kind man, moment like this always warm my heart,I might be travelling solo on a wild foreign land,but I knew I am not alone, somehow or rather the feeling of some helping souls are following behind, watching ,they will be there to help in trying situations. It is with this positive believe that keeps me going,,,,again and again...trip after trip with my bicycle.I took the opportunity of the early sun to dry up my wet staff and only able to hit the road by 11 am . The climb continues on gravel road to 2353m, before a short downhill to a town called Xia Zhuang. I prefer to stay in a hotel so that I can continue to clean up and reorganise my staff due to the rain. After checking in the 30 yuan Cheng Yu hotel , I went for a walk in the street for dinner, saw many children are celebrating "mid autumn day" or full moon with many different design of colourful lanterns. A scene that hardly can be seen back home. I realised that I left my camera in the room, so you readers, no luck !!
                                                           Entering Dali province
                                                            A scenic lake view
                                            Passing thru' a small town-Yunnanyi
                                                 A short downhill after the climb
Taking a rest after the tough climb
Xia Zhuang toll gate
                                           Celebrating moon cake far from home
                                                       30 yuan hotel room in Xia Zhuang

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 86 Tue 21/09 - Chu Xiong to Guesthouse Camp 10km after Shaqiaozhen

Today Distance : 85.0 km        Total : 4425.2 km
Today Weather : 18 - 35C      Sunny Blue Sky
Time On Bike : 6 hr 42 min
Ave Speed : 12.6 kmh             Max : 56.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%                       Max : 10%
Trip Altitude : 978 m                Max : 2319 m
Today Spend : 55.5 rmb          Total : 865.0 rmb

A short ride into the city of Chu Xiong for breakfast. I was attracted by a Muslim lamb noodle restaurant which I haven't got the chance to try since entering China. Never want to miss it this time, what with my stomach already screaming for food.. food...and more the end, I must say that " this is the best noodles so far ". Not only the soup is tasty, the lamb meat also very fresh & tender, and you get more surprise that it cost only 3.5 yuan. Strongly recommended if you were planning a trip here. Nan Hua is the next big town where I had lunch for 17 yuan . I saw many stalls selling moon cakes, so this reminded me that the "mid-autumn" celebration, bought 2 pcs for 4 yuan, one to eat on the way and another maybe in camp or guesthouse. Weather has been kind to me so far, no rains but blue sunny sky. Not much sweating even on the climbs. The road G320 turns really bad after the town of Shaqiaozhen and worse, it lasted for 10 km on a continuous steep climb to a max. altitude of 2319m. There are roadside guesthouses but many of them are already out of business. The owners told me that G320 was once very busy and prosperous, that is before  the expressway G56 was built. Sensing the need to camp, no rice to cook but is ok with 2 package of instant noodles and one can of black bean fish for dinner. Once decided, the next will follow..soon there is a row of guesthouses on my left and a concrete house with a big compound on the right. As usual ,not a soul  was seen around but all the guesthouses were padlocked. I happily setup my tent on the cemented corridor floor and had myself bathe at the outside water hose. Then out of no where, a man aged 60+ was standing near with a surprise look. Sensing he could be the owner, politely I told him the whole scenario and seek approval to camp. True enough he is the owner of the guesthouses and lived alone in  the big concrete house opposite. He wanted to open one of the room to let me stay free, but I politely turn down the offer cos' I already had my tent up.Instead he invited me to his house for dinner, simple dinner but i ate the most, this is one way of showing my appreciation and gave a positive impression of " See, your food is delicious !" After the dinner chat, I came to know he has 2 daughters working outstations, come back only on festivals but did not mention about his wife, I think he must be happy to find a company to at least talk to. Before back to my tent, he gave me a thermal flush of hot water, Yeah.. no need even to boil water with my stove, to enjoy some hot coffee tonight.
             Chu Xiong - Beautiful with its mirror clean river and red flower
                                           A scholar bronze statue ( no name can't recognise him)
                                               Another view of Chu Xiong
                                               Local angles fishing on the river
                                                   Way to go - G320 Nan Hua
                                                         Bicycle friendly I guess....
                                                  Roundabout in Chu Xiong               

                               Inside the beautiful tower is the market in Nam Hua
                           Surprise to know that Malaysia's roast duck is so famous here
                                               Tough gravel climb after Nam Hua

                                                      My copyright trade mark of posting
                                                Expressway G56 climbing the hill
                                              View from the top of G320 old road
 Depleted roadside guesthouses on G320 where I camped with a water hose for bathe
                                   Concrete big house with a lonely old man
                                               Two lonely men happy to find company
                                           Thermal flush of hot water inside the tent

Apples eat all you can