Asian Motorcycle Adventures

 

Post # 17. Last and final post of this blog.
 

Dateline: Friday, June 14, 2013, 8 p.m. (but posted 3 days late).
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” blog.
 

Present location: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Riding distance from Luangnamtha, Laos: 481 kms.
 

GPS track - Luangnamtha, Laos to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

GPS track – Luangnamtha, Laos to Chiang Mai, Thailand.


 

Driving (moving time): 7:22
Moving average: 67 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 1038 meters
Total cumulative distance: 4729 kms.
Overall riding distance for entire tour (including side trips, etc.):
4914 kms.
 

Complete GPS tour track below:
 

Shangri-La GPS trip route from Chiang Mai to the Tibet border, return, at Luangnamtha.

Shangri-La GPS trip route from Chiang Mai to the Tibet border, return, at Luangnamtha.


 

Tomorrow’s destination: None. This tour is now history.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride from Luangnamtha to Chiang Mai, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-14.html#post30265
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Home sweet home. Safe and sound. Feels soooo good to finally stop moving.
 

What an adventure this has been. Best ride of my motorcycle career. Can’t imagine anything ever topping this trip. I will definitely return.
 

Phil and I departed Laos hassle free and reentered Thailand hassle free. All we had to do now was drive the final 300 clicks back to Chiang Mai in the same condition we left it in, which we did successfully accomplish.
 

My big job now is to go through the 375 gbs of images I shot on this tour. Several video segments will be put online as soon as my vdo editors can process them. And most ot the photos I shot with my still camera still have not been looked at.
When the vdos go online and my still photos are put into a slideshow of some form, I will send out another email announcement. This may take several weeks.
 

I would love to receive some feedback about this blog from whoever is receiving it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. My name is Reed Resnikoff (in case you forgot) and you can contact me at: info@asianbiketour.com
 

As I said at the very beginning of this blog, this was a recce tour. I wanted to see if this tour would be any enjoyable one; get a feeling for the roads, terrain, culture, food, and lodging facilities.
If I liked what I encountered, I would then want to share this tour with other motorcyclists.
 

I not only liked what I saw, I have become enchanted by it. I would love to share this trip with other motorcyclists who have a keen spirit of adventure.
 

I am planning another trip to Shangri-La and its environs during the last week of September through the first two weeks of October, 2013. This period promises to be the best weather window of the year. We should miss the rainy season in the south portions of the route and reach the Himalayan Plataeu way before winter sets in. Being right after the summer, the landscapes should be at their greenest and most lush.
 

For this trip I invite other riders to join me and my crew. I would like to go out with at least ten bikers and the maximum would be about twenty. My support vehicle and mechanic will accompanying us. If anyone has interest in participating and would like further details, please contact me at: info@asianbiketour.com
 

I thank everyone once again for their interest in this blog.
 

Best regards, Reed Resnikoff, ASIAN MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES. www.asianbiketour.com
 
 

Post # 16
 

Dateline: Thursday, June 13, 2013, 10 a.m. (but posted 4 days late).
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Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” blog.
 

Present location: Luangnamtha, Laos
Riding distance from Yuanyuang, China: 544 kms.
 

ADD GPS TRACK FROM YUANYUANG TO LNT HERE.
 

Driving (moving time): 6:15
Moving average: 87 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 1689 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 4248 kms.
 

Complete GPS track below:
 

ADD CUMULATIVE GPS TRACK HERE
 

Tomorrow’s destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Riding distance: 500 kms approximately.
Approximate riding time: 7.5 hours.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Luangnamtha in Laos, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-13.html#post30147
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

In Yuanyuang, Phil and I decided to wrap up this tour. We had seen enough and experienced enough to know we discovered the best motorcycling terrain in Asia, at least the best doable motorcycling terrain that is feasible to reach within a reasonable amount of time from our home bases in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Quite a few qualifications there.)
 

So we got on our bikes and rode, rode, rode, and rode some more, stopping only for a quick lunch, a piss or two, and a couple of petrol fill-ups. This portion of the route (the same portion we rode up on) was an excellent, high speed, limited access, dual carriage way with a perfect asphalt surface. Our speedos hovered between 120-130 kph and we blasted past every other vehicle on the highway. We even roared past a couple of police cars who didn’t seem to mind at all.
 

We hit the Chinese/Lao border by mid afternoon. Doing the paperwork in reverse, we had no trouble leaving The Middle Kingdom. The trouble seems always to be getting into these Asian countries; not getting out of them. For whatever reason they are only too happy to see us return from whence we came.
Entering Laos was a snap because this was the 2nd time we were entering Lao on this tour, and we had the drill down pat: immigration, customs, insurance. After a two-hour ride over a pleasant mountain road we checked into a pleasant guesthouse in Luangnamtha, a large town in the middle of Bokeo Province, and sat in the shade on a picnic bench sipping ice-cold Beer Laos. It feels so good to finally stop moving after so many hours on the throttle.
 

There are still so many roads, regions, towns and cities left to visit in Yunnan that it will keep Phil and myself busy for years. The topography of northern Yunnan Province is no less than the Himalaya Plateau itself, and the southern reaches of Yunnan are located in the Himalayan foothills, so anywhere you point your mc you will encounter outstanding riding. People who are familiar with the riding available in Northern Thailand, Northern Laos, and Northern Vietnam will have some idea of what this previous sentence suggests. Except in southern Yunnan, the mountain passes are higher, the valleys lower, the roads virtually empty, and the road conditions superb.
 

The Chinese locals were delightful; friendly, open, warm, and curious. They were eager to practice their budding English skills on us. Yunnan province gets lots of tourists from the rest of the motherland, and everyone here in Yunnan was out to have a good time and the three of us on our bikes were part of their good time. My expedition-equipped 4×4 was an equally big hit with the locals.
 

I found the food at every meal delicious. But after around two weeks of three meals a day of Chinese fare, I did get a hankering for Western food. Western food (in name only-not in taste or appearance) and fast food outlets like McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut are available only in the larger cities and tourist areas.
Coffee is nearly impossible to find (next tour I am bringing my own coffee brewing equipment). Cold drinks are also unimportant to the Chinese as they believe cold liquids put inside your system are inherently unhealthy. (Next tour I am buying for the support truck a 12 volt cooler. Maybe an expresso machine as well.)
Lodging choices throughout this tour were extensive and we always stayed in a hotel or guesthouse loaded with local charm.
 

I would’ve liked to stay longer in Shangri-La to visit the surrounding region and Tibetan culture in greater depth. I would have liked to jump off my bike more often and wander around the truly authentic and untouched local villages we roared past. But this was impossible to do because of the distances and time involved. Next time.
 

The weather was delightful (except for a single day of light rain and drizzle). The roads for the most part were in excellent condition and excellently engineered. The highways we rode in China were the equal, if not superior to anything I’ve ridden in The States (from a motorcycling standpoint.)
 

Which brings us to the $50,000 question: which is the best type of motorcycle to ride on this tour?
 

Phil and I both thought the BMW F800GS’s were perfect. They were powerful enough for the highways, robust enough to handle the occasional crappy roads we encountered (not many, thankfully), handled great, were 100% reliable, had a large fuel capacity, and were comfortable enough to ride hour after hour, day after day.
 

Could a road bike do this tour? Like a Harley or a Ducati or a Kawasaki Verysy. Yes they can.
But around 5-10% of the roads would make a rider miserable if he was riding one of these bikes. However, those same bikes, on around 5-10% of the roads would be in all their glory, especially on some of the winding, rolling, high speed highways we motored on during the southern portions of our route.
 

What about a motorcycle like a Kawasaki KLR 250 or anything else in that class? Well that bike could easily handle each and every road we rode on this tour. They would be underpowered on the highways and that would negate a lot of the fun riding we had on this trip. And if you did not have a support vehicle like we had, you would be saddled down with luggage and gear and would be awefully cramped in the saddle. All the extra gear would slow you down even more so. But bottom line; a tour in Yunnan is doable on a 250 dual-purpose bike.
 

If a rider is skillful in handling a large capacity street bike in large Asian city where no traffic rules and regulations seem to be in play, and if a rider is skillful enough to be able to handle his street bike over the occasional ugly road sections that we hit, then he will do fine.
This is not a tour for anyone who is not used to Asian city riding techniques. This is not a tour for anyone who is not 100% comfortable riding a large capacity motorcycle on an ever-changing variety of roads.
 

However, I strongly recommend taking a dual-purpose mc on this tour. Any mc at least 650 cc or over would be ideal (non-fuel-injected models will have trouble with some of the altitudes we hit on the higher passes). Riding a dual-purpose motorcycle, a rider can fully enjoy 100% of the roads on this Shangri-La tour just like Phil, George and I did. In fact, George rode a 250cc dual-purpose bike for the northern part of this tour. We did have a couple of days of highway riding leaving and returning to Kunming, and George, on those sections, was not a happy camper. But he did it, no sweat.
 

Tomorrow is going to be the final post of this blog. Because tomorrow all Phil and I have to do is ride home safely and we will be back in our homes in Chiang Mai by suppertime. For all intents and purposes, this tour is now history.
 

That’s it for now. Bye bye.
 
 

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Post # 15

Dateline: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 midnight (but posted 3 days late).

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” blog.

Present location: Yuanjiang, Yunnan Province.
Riding distance from Jianshui: 310 kms.

ADD GPS TRACK FROM JIANSHUI TO YUANJIANG HERE.

Driving (moving) time: 6:39
Moving average: 46.5 kph
Highest elevation reached: 2055 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3704 kms.

Complete trip GPS track below:
ADD CUMULATIVE GPS TRACK HERE

Tomorrow’s destination: China-Lao border crossing at Boten.
Riding distance: 500 kms approximately.
Approximate riding time: 6 hours.

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Yuanjiang and our rest day in Jianshui, you can view them at the following url:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-13.html#post30147

Hello Interested Parties,

Sorry for this delayed trip post. Last night I was just too tired and fell asleep immediately after dinner. And the night after that the internet connection was not working.

Anyway, on Wednesday we had another great day blasting around Yunnan Province. Glorious sunny weather blessed us in total contrast to our last day’s riding in a dismal all-day drizzle. But this was coupled with a seriously wide range of temperatures. We started out in the morning from Jianshui at 13.5 C, hit 10 C at the top of our first mountain pass and ended up the day at 33.5 C. This is because Jianshui is situated at 1300 meters in elevation and Yangjiang, in the Red River basin, sits at a lowly 400 meters. The bracingly cool and dry weather on this tour is now history as we are now fully off the Himalaya Plateau and in the subtropical region of Southeast Asia. Temperatures will dip and climb in a smaller range than what we have become accustomed to. This will happen when we climb up and over several more high mountain passes.

(Despite the wide range of temperatures, I have kept myself quite comfortable using a combination of only two outer coverings; a cotton hooded sweatshirt and a waterproof, windproof, unlined, zip-up jacket. When it is cold I wear the hoodie under the rain jacket. When it warms up, I take off the hoodie and wear only the rain jacket. When it gets hot I wear only a synthetic long-sleeve pullover shirt under body armor that always stays on, and that is it.)

Today’s riding can be broken down into three separate segments; all of them superb. The riding was so good and ended on such a high note, that for the life of me I cannot remember what our morning ride was like. The only reason why I know it was great is because I have written in my notebook, as a reminder, that the morning ride contains excellent video footage so it must have been terrific.

(It will take a couple of weeks for my video editors to whittle down the 375 gigabytes of video I recorded on this tour into an hour or two of watchable riding segments. I will send out further notices when these videos are posted online. I will make notifications of these video postings on my website and on ASIAN MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES’ Facebook page.)

After the great ride in the morning that I cannot remember anything about other than it was fantastic, we drove up into the Yuanyang rice terraces. These terraces basically cover every square inch of an immense box canyon, climbing up the slopes and walls all the way to the ridge line, and are a marvel to behold. They remind me a lot of Sapa’s rice terraces in northern Vietnam. I pulled out my map and saw that these two places are only around 40 kms apart as the bird flies. Being that the topography, weather, and soil in both places are identical, and that this region is populated by basically the same ethnic groups, it dawned on me that this entire region, thousands upon thousands of square miles, must be one gigantic terraced rice growing area, and that anywhere in this region that you looked at or drove to would be equally spectacular. I would love to fly above this region in an ultralight.

China claims these rice terraces are the largest in the world. I don’t quite agree with that claim as I have visited the Batad and Baangan rice terraces at Banaue in The Philippines, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately, the Banaue rice fields are deteriorating because there are no longer enough people around to work them. Most of the younger generation choose instead to pursue an education to escape the rice-growing life of constant toil.

We drove our mcs in a big loop around the Yuanyang rice terraces. The road was superb and in excellent condition, and the locals were all colorfully-dressed Hani and Yi ethnic minority and curious about us and our motorcycles. It was hard to drive even half a kilometer before needing to hop off our mcs to take a photo of a new vista that opened up before our eyes.

ENTER GPS TRACK OF THIS ROAD HERE

Once we left the rice terraces, we changed directions and started driving northwest up the Red River Basin. The Red River is another of the important rivers in this region. Its source is near Dali in Yunnan Province and it flows into north Vietnam in basically a straight line before emptying into the Gulf of Tonkin.
The Red River road followed a contour line for the most part and was nearly devoid of other road users. The road condition for such a little-used road was in excellent condition, except where the road bed subsided under the asphalt causing big cracks and waves in the road surface, and except where huge and medium-sized boulders fell from the surrounding cliffs and winded up sitting on the road for who knew how long. It was great fun running through this obstacle course of boulders and this road was far different from anything else we had driven so far on this tour. The scenery was equally spectacular as anything else we have seen but in a completely different way.
If I had to describe the roads on this tour using two words only, they would be ‘outstanding variety’.

It was late afternoon when we pulled into the small city of Yuanjiang and checked into the only high-rise hotel in town. We had great views across the river valley from the 14th floor. Yuanjiang is said to have the tastiest mangos in China, and grows over 200 varieties. We missed the annual mango festival by a day so they were selling for ridiculously cheap prices. We didn’t buy a single one.

Dinner tonight was another great meal in a weird-looking restaurant that looked like a hospital clinic. Most Chinese people do not look at a menu. Instead the wander into the kitchen, inspect the produce and meats, and discuss with the cooking staff how best to prepare it. A foreigner would find this impossible to do so Pae and our ground handler did all selecting. Phil is the only problem eater in our group. He doesn’t go hungry or anything like that because there is always a lot of fresh veggies and rice, but he is picky and choosey about what type of meat and fish goes into his mouth and won’t eat anything with egg in it, unlike the three of us who eat, and want to try just about anything.

Until tomorrow, Bye, bye.

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After leaving our hotel in Yuanjiang, we drove 6.5 kms westwards where we rejoined the highway we drove up on at the beginning of this tour. So the discovery process is now over: we are riding on roads that we have ridden already.

In 6 kms we join the highway we rode up on, and the discovery process is now over. All we have to do is return to CM safe and sound.

We have now descended from the big mountains of the Himalaya Plateau and are presently riding through the Himalaya foothills.

Today we rode the red river basin.

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Post # 13 + Post #14

Post # 13 is about our ride from Kunming to Jianshui.
Post # 14 is about our rest day in Jianshui

Dateline: Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Present location: Jianshui, Yunnan province.
Riding distance from Kunming: 220 ks.

Below is the GPS track of this ride:

ADD GPS TRACK FROM KUNMING TO JIANSHUI HERE

Driving (moving) time: 4:37
Moving average: 46.5 kph
Highest elevation reached: 2173 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3394 kms.

Complete trip GPS track below:
ADD CUMULATIVE GPS TRACK HERE

Tomorrow’s destination: Yuanyang.
Riding distance: 100 kms
Approximate riding time: 2.5 hours.

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Jianshui and our rest day in Jianshui, you can view them at the following url:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-12.html#post30049
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,

Our trip is winding down. So much more is behind us than ahead and this makes me sad. It seems that every day on this tour so far, somehow, someway, has always been better than the day before. But when we woke up in Kunming for our ride to Jianshui, this streak appeared to be over. The whole point of a motorcycle tour is to find great riding and have fun, and rain has a way of putting a damper on this.

It was a grey, drizzly morning and the temperature was 14C. And we knew from yesterday’s ride into Kunming that the ride out of the city was going to be bereft of any riding pleasure. And it was. The rain, decreased visibility drastically as well as degraded our traction, making a treacherous drive even more so. Several times I had close calls with vehicles much larger than myself doing the stupidest things in front of me. I have come to expect such moves from the Chinese drivers at all times and thus was able to avoid grievous injury. Using my horn got no one’s attention so I started yelling at people. The shock value of doing this worked wonders, because whenever I yelled, the drivers stopped in mid-maneuver and instead just stared at me and forgot to drive.

When we left the city limits and climbed into the southern mountains that ring the city, the rain increased in intensity and the temperature started dropping, all the way down to 9C during one stretch. Every couple of seconds I needed to swipe my face shield with my glove, and this meant taking a much needed hand off my handlebars. The light drizzle turned into a heavy drizzle and back again many times. It never came down heavy and never stopped. The temperatures bounced with the altitude, between 9 and 14C, but at least I wasn’t cold. On the verge, yes, but okay. I was only wearing a synthetic long-sleeve shirt under my body armor. Over that a sweatshirt and my outer layer was a waterproof, zip-up jacket made by Northface. The F800GS kept my body and legs remarkably dry and I am sure that was not by accident. My gloves were soaked through, though.

Couldn’t see much of anything in terms of scenery as the rain decreased our visibility and our eyeballs had to be glued to that piece of roadway directly in front of us.

Phil and I were pretty miserable when we stopped for lunch but elated to still be alive. And what a lunch it was. We dined in a restaurant famous for duck and the one we ate was fantastic. The ducks are cooked in big, rotund, barrel-shaped clay ovens. The heat comes up from the bottom and the ducks hang down by their necks on metal s-hooks from the inside lip of the oven. Sumptuous, and a great price, as this full-blown feast came to under USD5 per head.

The duck brightened up an overall dismal day, and once again we hopped on our bikes for the final 40 km stretch into town. There was a highway directly to our west but this was one of the highways mcs are not allowed to use. The local road we were forced to ride was in poor condition, with big pools of water covering the road surface, lots of potholes and lots of mud. Phil and I really slowed it down and we limped into Jianshui in the late afternoon. And then it stopped raining.

We found a steakhouse in a shopping mall outside our hotel. Phil has had just about enough of Chinese food by this point and ordered a proper surf and turf which he said wasn’t bad. I ate nothing as I was still stuffed from lunch. After dinner we strolled into the old quarter of Jianshui where most of the old buildings are still intact and nicely restored. The ground floors were a series of boutiques selling mostly women clothes and shoes, antique shops, silver and jewelry stores, hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants. This area is famous for a black-type of pottery and a lot of stores were selling this.

The old quarter had a nice atmosphere and feel to it, somewhat marred by frequent horn-blaring scooters and cars riding down what should be a pedestrian-only area. Chinese drivers surely have a love affair with their horns.
This old quarter was similar to, but different from all the other old quarters we visited during this tour. It is great fun strolling through them, marveling at the intricate architectural details and seeing how Chinese tourists enjoy spending their holiday time. Everyone was friendly and in upbeat moods. I would be surprised if this Old Quarter is not turned one day into a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Phil and I turned a corner and a huge, red building that looked somewhat like the facade of the Forbidden City in Beijing loomed ahead of us. It was one of the restored city gates. There was a stairway up to the pavilion level and we took a bunch of pictures on the Old Quarter side. When we wandered over to the opposite side of the gate and looked down at the square below us, it was filled with groups of people dancing to different prerecorded music blaring from portable stereos.

When we saw the activity below us, Phil and I looked at each other and smiled, because a scene like this is exactly the reason why we drove 3500 kms to find and enjoy. This was the essence of adventure travel, discovering something so far removed from our everyday experiences. You turn a corner on a tour such as ours and you have no idea what you will find. Sometimes nothing, and sometimes something awe inspiring. This was one of the latters.

We walked down to the dancers and took a bunch more photos. One group was dancing in synchronized steps in a big circle to an atonal but pleasant hilltribe folk tune. They wore little contraptions on their fingers which they snapped quite loudly on the downbeats. We watched the goings on for an hour and retired to our hotels for the night.

Last night I slept in a different hotel from everyone else, mainly because it was more expensive. It was a restored mansion and formal gardens of an extremely wealthy family that was built at the turn of the last century. This is one of two family mansions like this left in the country that used to have thousands. All the others fell victim to the cultural revolution. My room was filled with antique furniture and a four-poster bed. In my closet was a period Chinese robe, hat, and slippers that I could wear if I really wanted to get into the mood.

Today dawned just as fine and nice as all the others. We went to visit another ancient Chinese city on the outskirts of Jianshui that has been turned into a living museum. Check out Phil’s photos of this village at the url above. Another great place to take a ton of photos.

Then we visited an old bridge sitting on seventeen spans, with two old gate houses; one in the middle and one at one end.

After this we called it a day and tomorrow we are off to see some famous rice fields which have to be seen to be believed, I hope it doesn’t rain.

Time for me to pack and say goodnight. My laundry just arrived and it cost USD50. Ouch.

That’s it for now. Bye, bye.

I was

Even though everyday has been fabulous there are so many more things I wish I had time for, to do, and to see, especially up in the Shgnri-La region.

We have maybe two more days in Yunnan and then we cross the border into Laos. Laos should take a day and then it is another day back to our homes in Chiang Mai.

The third member of our recce crew, George Migliorelli, has returned to Hong Kong, and it is just Phil and me on bikes and Pae in the 4×4.

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Post # 12
 

Dateline: Midnight, Sunday, June 9, 2013).
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province.
Riding distance from the east bank of Dali Lake: 375 ks.
 

Below is the GPS track of this ride:
 

Day's ride from Dali Lake east bank to Kunming

Day’s ride from Dali Lake east bank to Kunming


 

Driving (moving) time: 5:09
Moving average: 73 kph
Highest elevation reached: 2394 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3374 kms.
 

Complete trip GPS track below:
 

GPS track of trip so far: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return to Kunming

GPS track of trip so far: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return to Kunming


 

Tomorrow’s destination: Jian Shui
Riding distance: 220 kms
Approximate riding time: 4:30
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Kunming, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-11.html#post29949
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Were back in Kunming for the 2nd time this trip as we head south on our return to Chiang Mai.
 

Still plenty of incredible stuff before us, but we only had a little bit of it today. The little bit was the ride around Dali Lake. On our drive northwards at the beginning of this tour we overnighted in the charming town of Dali. Its situated on the western bank of the lake, the same side of the lake where the major thoroughfare runs. So on our southward swing we decided to explore new territory on the east bank. We got off to an early start for a change and drove through a slew of fishing communities along the lake shore. Some interesting sights but nothing mind-blowing along this 50+ kilometer ride. It was rural and nice and traffic was light with no commercial freight haulers or dump trucks to dodge and pass. (it seems like one of the largest commercial activities in China is moving dirt, rocks, gravel, and sand from one place to another, and man, do they make a mess of it.)
 

After this we jumped on the main highway. It was a 280 kms high speed stretch on a restricted-access dual carriageway whose surface was in excellent condition. Phil and I kept the needle mostly between 120 and 130 kph and not a soul passed us. But George, riding a 250 cc dirt bike could not keep up, plus his range between fill-ups was only a third of ours. So Phil and I had to wait at least 15-20 minutes for George at rest stop service stations every 100 kms or thereabouts. At each station Phil and I downed Red Bulls because both of us find this type of riding boring. For those of you who drive Harleys and Goldwings, you would have loved this section because it was mountainous and scenic and nothing too hairy. Phil and I like hairy.
 

In China mcs are not really allowed on the highways, and they are more strict about enforcing this rule in large urban centers like Kunming. So we had to jump off the highway around 40 ks before the city and take local roads all the way in. It was a traffic-choked, dirty, dusty, and dangerous ride to our hotel. The Chinese drivers on the open road are pretty much okay, unless they are driving a large luxury car which makes them think they own the road and everyone else can go to hell. But in the city everyone, including trucks, buses, taxis, farm vehicles, whole families on a motor scooter, drive like maniacs. The only rules of thumb I have figured out in the city is that whoever is driving near you will do everything in their power to get in front of of you, and the concept of right-of-way does not exist. I almost bought the farm a couple of times on the ride in, and the amount of curse words that I uttered were uncountable. I even gave up using my horn and started screaming at anyone around me who was trying to pull a sleazy move. Sleazy moves in my book, that is, but perfectly normal driving behavior for Chinese drivers. They couldn’t understand a word but it did get their attention. We have been told the government is tightening up their driving test parameters, but I see no indication of this.
 

We pulled into our hotel at around 3 p.m., took a quick shower, and George packed his belongings because he was flying back to his home in Hong Kong that evening.
 

For those of you who hate McDonalds, as I do, here is a sure-fire way to change your opinion: eat fourteen straight days of Chinese food. For the three of us, our McDonald meal was like manna from heaven. I ordered their Surf & Turf; A Filet Of Fish sandwich and a Big Mac with fries and ice cream for desert. I never thought I would say this in my life, but I relished every bite.
 

George departed for the airport. Phil went to his room to work on selecting photos for his web site, and I went to the hotel health spa, which was a most refreshing experience. I am kicking myself I did not take advantage of this during our two-night stay at the beginning of this trip.
The first thing I did was shower, then scraped two-weeks growth of hair off my face, needing three razor blades to accomplish this. I took a dip in a Jacuzzi hot tub that could easily accommodated 200 persons (there were four people using it when I was there). Climbed out and jumped into the steam room, worked up a sweat, back into the shower, Jacuzzi again, into the sauna this time, another shower, Jacuzzi, steam room, shower. When my pulse hit the 200 rpm mark, I sat down for a while to readjust to earth surface temperatures. Then the staff led me to a private bedroom where an Asian beauty gave me a 90-minute oil massage.
 

I stumbled up to my room and slept the sleep of the dead. Have another big day coming up tomorrow. Will tell all soon. Bye, bye.
 
 
 

Post #11

Dateline: Saturday, June 8, midnight.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Present location: Dali Lake, eastern shore
Riding distance from Shaxi: 151 kms.

INSERT DAY’S TRACK HERE

Driving (moving) time): 3:47
Moving average: 40 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 3030 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2999 kms.
Complete trip track shown below:

INSERT COMPLETE TOUR TRACK HERE

Tomorrow destination: Kunming (for the 2nd time as we head south)
Approximate distance: 340 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 7 hours

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Dali Lake, you can view them at the following url:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-10.html#post29906

Hello Interested Parties,

Another excellent day in the saddle, but for the first time, not the entire ride.

We started out at 10:30 a.m. This was late for us, but we had a shortish day ahead and our energy stores were running low.

We backtracked south out of magical Shaxi on the road we rode in on for around 45 ks. Parts of this road was wonderful, other parts not so great because of commercial traffic and a broken up road surface. Our biggest road hazard besides the usual farm animals and slow-moving tractors were a fleet of overloaded dump trucks that were tough to pass on this narrow road, but were also intolerable to drive behind. The drove so slowly, especially on the upgrades and their loads of fine sand was wafting off their back ends like a dust storm, plus they were spewing out thick diesel exhaust fumes.

At 45 ks we turned eastwards up a large mountain ridge that forms the eastern wall of the Yangtze River basin. The road was called either Rt. D-89 or O-89 as written on the kilometer markers. The road surface changed regularly and intermittently from good asphalt to rotten rocky raw road bed and was, by far, the worst surface conditions we experienced on the tour, but nothing that gave our BMW’s any difficulty. (The locals love our BMWs and pronounce them as Bore Ma. They completely have given up on trying to pronouncing the ‘w’.)

This was a big-ass mountain and the road itself (not counting the road surface) and views were superb. We topped out at 3030 meters, the temperature touched 16C, and I needed to don my sweatshirt. There were hundreds of hairpin turns and below is a gps screen shot of one section of this road:

INSERT SCREEN SHOT HERE

The ride down the eastern side of the mountain was equally outstanding and so were the views. The weather was overcast and a few sprinkles freckled my face shield.

Then we jumped on a road which we traveled northwards on earlier on the trip and stopped for one of the best meals so far in a halal Chinese restaurant.

Instead of staying in Dali town as we did on our way up, we drove along the eastern shore of Dali Lake to a charming lakeside down which is attracting an artsy, high-end crowd. Expansion here is in full-swing.

After checking into our hotel and showering, we took a stroll and ended up on the lakeshore esplanade filled with restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, souvenir shops, and that sort of touristy stuff. This was another “wow” moment for Phil, George, Jah, and myself because the view across the lake and the mountain we just drove down is a scene that I will never forget.
(Don’t forget to check out Phil’s photos at:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-10.html#post29906

Tomorrow is going to be a long ride back down to the capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming but it will be mostly on highway. From there George will fly back to Hong Kong, and Phil, Jah, and myself will work out a plan of action for riding through southern Yunnan Province on our return to Chiang Mai.

Now for some cultural impressions of China.
I lived in Hong Kong from 1990-95 and travelled inside it extensively by motorcycle and for business. And, man, has it changed in the interim. Back then, it was dirty and garbage-strewn. Anything that was being built was always left in some degree, unfinished. Not a penny was spent on decor, styling, or finishing. There were few cars and millions of bicycles. There wasn’t a single highway. The Chinese would stare at us foreigners like we just disembarked from a spaceship from Mars.
This has completely changed. (Or maybe things are totally different in Yunnan compared to the rest of China.)

Cars are everywhere, bicycles are few. Small mcs and scooters, especially electric scooters, are extremely popular. Luxury cars abound. I’ve never seen so many Porsche Cayenne’s and Cadillacs. All the Chinese tourists are walking around with expensive cameras and lenses hanging from their necks, many of them the most expensive cameras and lenses produced. Everyone is friendly, and helpful, and courteous, and curious about us, especially when we are by our mcs dressed in our riding gear.

Public bathrooms are still hideous, some of the time, compared to all of the time in the old days.

In the old days I hated to go into China. Now I am having the greatest of times. I’ll have to see about the rest of the country because I hear there is some excellent riding up in Chengdu.

Until tomorrow, Bye, bye.

Post #10

Dateline: Saturday, June 8; 9 a.m.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Unlike my other posts I am writing this one in the morning because I fell asleep instantly immediately after dinner. I was so tired yesterday that I actually fell asleep on my motorcycle. It was on a straightaway, luckily, and I snapped out of my doze before I could crashed. In the next town I purchased and quickly downed two Red Bulls.

I have awoken to a beautiful morning in Shaxi at 2128 meters. The scene outside my guesthouse window is one of low mountains, the bluest of skies and scattered pillows of clouds.

Riding statistics to Shaxi:

Present location: Shaxi.
Riding distance from Weixi: 279 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 5:44
Moving average: 47.5 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 2889 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2848 kms.
Complete trip track shown below:

ENTER OVERALL TRIP TRACK HERE

Trip track to Shaxi shown below:

ENTER YESTERDAYS TRIP TRACK HERE
Tomorrow destination: Dali (for the 2nd time as we head southwards)
Approximate distance: 150 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 4 hours

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Dali Lake, you can view them at the following url:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-10.html#post29906

Hello interested parties!

I do not know how long things can continue in this vein, but we enjoyed another fantastic ride, more fantastic roads, and we are staying in the most amazing place on this tour so far, Shaxi.

Shaxi is the only ancient Chinese city left pretty much untouched as it looked centuries ago. I am pasting the Wikipedia entry of the Shaxi below, as they describe Shaxi way better than I can:

Shaxi (Chinese: 沙溪) is a historic market town in Jianchuan County, Dali refecture, Yunnan province, China. It is located roughly halfway between Dali and Lijiang.
The Sideng market square of Shaxi was added to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2001.[1]
Shaxi started as a trading point for tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). The prosperity of the town was at its height during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912).
It is probably the most intact horse caravan town on the Ancient tea route leading from Yunnan into Burma and Tibet[2] and is now being preserved through a cooperation between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH) and the People’s Government of Jianchuan County.[3]
Nearby Shibao mountain contains Buddhist rock carvings and temples of over 1300 years old with, amongst others, images of the bodhisattva Guanyin.
The two main ethnic groups of Shaxi are the Bai and Yi people.

ATTACH Shaxi PHOTO HERE

Yesterday’s first third of the ride was on the best sports bike-style road we encountered yet. The surface was in near perfect condition, traffic was light, and the bends were challenging and frequent. Unlike when we were deep in the Himalayas, where missing a turn would mean death, this morning we had no such fear tempering our riding fun.

The terrain we rode through was filled with karst limestone similar to what we are used to in Thailand and Laos, except here the karsts are much higher and way more massive

We followed a clear-running meandering river. It ran downhill all the way generally heading east-southeast from the top of the mountain ridge that separated the Mekong and Yangtze River basins.
After an hour, the stream we were following joined the Yangtze. We had to choose whether to ride on the west bank of the Yangtze which was the faster route on a main road, or the much quieter east bank. We chose the east bank.

It was another terrific road. Here the Yangtze was wide and gentle and rock and rapid free and ringed in all the way by a wall of karst mountains. The road was narrow and our shoulders were practically scrapping the farm houses on both sides. We weren’t riding through a landscape, we were a part of it.
Very rural. Very traditional architecture, exactly like what you would imagine what the Chinese countryside would look like. Better yet, take a look at Phil’s photos at this link.

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-8.html#post29761

When the land was open it was filled with farm fields of rice, corn, tobacco, and many other assorted crops. Every 10 ks or so we entered a small village. Our pace was slow because the road was narrow and windy, but also because wherever we pointed our eyes was a photo opportunity crying to be captured. Some signs of the Tibetan culture started to reappear, but nothing like before. The giveaways are the strings of prayer flags fluttering in the breezes.
We stopped in a small town and had another fantastic lunch.

Around 2 hours later we made a right turn at a junction and started climbing out of the Yangtze River basin. And this was the first bad road we hit on the tour. It was potholed and patched up with tar and there was quite a bit of slow-moving commercial traffic, especially uncovered dump trucks which were creating mini-dust storms in their wake. This road was not any fun at all and all our concentration was directed on passing the creeping lorries and avoiding oncoming ones that tried running us off the road.
But this is the last time we will ever take this road because a brand- new, limited-access, dead straight elevated highway is nearing completion to the north of this crap road.

An hour of this brought us to a junction. We veeered east then south, up and down over a series of low foothills and we finally arrived in Shaxi.
Unlike Daliang and Shangri-La this town hardly has any tourists. It is filled with local Bai and Yi ethnic groups living their daily life.

After another fantastic dinner, we returned to our guesthouse for a good, long sleep.

I have to wrap this blog up now because departure time is here.

So until tomorrow, Bye, bye.

downthrough a farming valley. We were able to ride through this gentle scenery riding at a much faster pace than has been our usual.

I never had the feeling I had in the Himalayas that a mistake on a corner would lead to death.

came at us rapidly and almost non-stop. But the terrain was much gentler than the awe-inspiring Himalayas which we now have left, so you never had the feeling that a mistake on a corned would lead to death.

, but the terrain was mu

=================================================

Post #8 & Post #9

Dateline: Friday, June 7; time: early morning.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

So sorry, interested readers for missing yesterday’s post. We stayed in a shithole of a hotel last night. My only furniture was a bed; couldn’t set up my computer gear to write. Bad internet connection. Dead tired as well. Sensory overload of the highest degree. More below……

Yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) destination: Diqen
Riding distance to Diqen from Shangri-La: 188 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 4:32
Moving average: 41.4 kph.
Diqen elevation: 3458 meters
Highest elevation reached: 4292 meters (highpoint on this tour).
Total trip cumulative distance to Diqen: 2239 kms.
Trip track shown on map below:

INSERT GPS TRACK HERE

Thursday, June 6 present location: Weixi with side trip to Tibet border.
Riding distance to Weixi from Diqen including side trip to Tibet border: 330 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 6:14
Moving average: 55.1
Weixi elevation: 2247 meters
Highest elevation reached: 3467 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2569 kms.
Trip track shown on map below:

INSERT GPS TRACK HERE

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Diqen, the Tibet border, and Weixi, you can view them at the following 2 urls:

To Diqen:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-6.html#post29646

To the Tibet border and return, then on to Weixi:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-8.html#post29761

Tomorrow’s destination: Shaxi
Approximate distance: 220 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours

Hello Interested Parties,

Somehow, someway, the riding just gets better and better and better. Today, though, we finally hit some bad road conditions due to a lot of landslide activity along the route. Some parts were downright hairy; still great fun in a sick sort of way. Always feels good to survive a ride.

Let me start off with yesterday’s ride to Kawa Karpo, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain at 6740 meters. To get there we had to drive up and down and up and down and up again the three river basins of three of the most important rivers in Asia. From east to west, they are; the Yangtze, the Mekong, and the Salween. These rivers run basically parallel to each other in upper Yunnan Province for a couple of hundred kilometers, rushing south from their headwaters deeper inside the Himalayas. In my rough estimation, as the bird flies, the three rivers are no more than fifty kilometers apart but separated by high mountain ridges in the 5000 meter range. Only one road connects all three, Rt. G 233 and this is what we drove north northwest on all day. The mountains around us still have snow cover in early June, and some of them are glaciated, like Kara Karpo itself. If we are not on the roof of the world, we are close to it.

The road conditions continue to be excellent, and we could be driving a lot faster than we are, but the jaw-dropping scenery is holding us up, as are frequent photo stops. In fact, anywhere you point a camera, you will wind up with a dramatic photo of nature at its most awesome. You should look at some of Phil Gibbins photos at the url at the top of this page to see firsthand what we are experiencing on our bikes.

It is amazing that the Chinese built such great roads in such a rugged and remote region, but thank you very much. The people living in northwestern Yunnan are Tibetans, not the predominant Han Chinese, and it is said that they live a more traditional lifestyle than their brethren in most of Tibet. Their main livelihood seems to be animal husbandry, especially yaks, as they are well suited to life at altitudes above 3000 meters.

Their houses are huge, square around the base, two or three stories high, with slightly inward leaning, slightly trapezoidal walls. The eaves, rooflines, and gateways are intricately carved and colorfully painted. I would love to live in one.

The Tibetans believe that one of their gods dwells on Kawa Karpo. Tibetan pilgrims from all over make a point to visit it sometime in their lives. The way they pay homage to the god is to walk around the base which takes more than a week.

Phil, George, and I paid homage to Kawa Karpo by driving to it, muttering thanks all the way for making such a ride possible. I thought I would have had some kind of epiphany when I arrived there because of the statue I have in my apartment, but the wonder I felt at seeing such an awesome mountain was shared equally by every visitor in the town of Diqen.

We never saw the entirety of Kawa Karpo because part of it was always hidden in clouds, but I do think I saw the peak briefly in a small slot in the cloud cover.

Our hotel in Diqen was a shithole, as I mentioned earlier. But other choices were even poorer. There was one expensive option, the USD400/night Regalia hotel. That was beyond all of our budgets, even if all six of us crammed into one room.

Today, Thursday morning, George woke up with a fever, chills, and a headache and was not able to ride his bike. We let George sleep in late and Phil and I rode northwards with Pae following in the 4×4 to the Tibet-China border just to see what we could see. We knew we couldn’t get through because we didn’t have the right paperwork, nor did we want to. We just needed the slimmest of excuses to ride our mcs anywhere there was a road. And just like all the other roads, this one was another great one.

It was 55 kms to the border and the same back to Diqen. When we returned, George still was feeling ill and could not ride his bike, so he let our ground handler, Jah, ride his mc, and he rode in the pick-up.

We left Diqen before noon and rode down from the Himalaya Plateau on into the Mekong River Basin. The Tibetans and their homes and culture gradually dissipated and Han Chinese culture took over, which is based on irrigated rice growing.

We followed the Mekong River most of the day. Sometimes the road was several hundred meters above it but by the end of the day we were just a little ways above the river surface itself. The Mekong up here is an angry young river and the part we first followed was filled with roiling rapids. High, sheer cliffs hemmed the Mekong in, and hundreds of waterfalls running crystal clear added to the surging flow.

The river road started out at around 2000 meters, and by the end of the day we ever so gradually descended to 1700 meters before climbing out of the river basin to tonight’s hotel in Diqen.

The sheer cliffs and ridges hemming in the Mekong are prone to landslides and this damaged the road surface in hundreds of places during the day. The near-perfect road conditions finally petered out.
At one point there was a landslide in progress, and dirt and rocks of various sizes tumbled down a steep canyon wall across the roadway. When the falling scree slowed down in volume and nothing big was tumbling across the road we made a dash across the landslide path.

But listen interested parties, it is after one in the morning and my brain is shutting down. I can’t write anymore and need to get some sleep.

So until tomorrow, Bye, bye.

Like I just said above, and which does bear repeating, the ride to Shangri-La was, hands-down, the most spectacular and most enjoyable motorcycle ride in my entire riding career. Period! The scenery, the road, the road condition, the weather, the dearth of other road users, glaciated mountain peaks scraping the clouds, Tibetan dwellings sprinkled throughout the meadows, all added up to the greatest seven hours and fifteen minutes of motorcycling in my life. And it is not only I who is of this opinion, as Phil and George share the same viewpoint and one would have to describe them as highly seasoned bikers.
(We are also being told that tomorrow’s ride is even better if that is at all humanly possible¬¬. So stay tuned.)

The road and road conditions were so terrific that we could have easily ridden them at a 70 kph pace, still with a sizable margin of error built in (and we were on the perfect bikes to do it on). 60 easy without any degree of difficulty. But we only managed a pace of 38 because the three of us were so mesmerized by what was unfolding in front of our eyes, that we had to slow way, way down to drink it all in. Every bend in the road opened up a new and wonderful vista and all we could keep saying to ourselves was “wow”.

Primary over everything else was the scenery. Our first target of the day was Tiger Leaping Gorge. After Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal and the Grand Canyon in The States, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the third-deepest gorge in the world. This is where the young Yangtze River, with its headwaters not far away in the Himalayas, comes roaring down in full force, eating its way through whatever mountain dares to impede it. And these are serious mountains; snow-covered peaks, glaciers running down their flanks like crooked, white fingers.

The road we drove hugged a contour line around 100 meters above the roaring, boiling, boulder-strewn rapids below us. The tops of the canyon loomed, I would guess, 3000 meters above us

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a major Chinese tourist attraction, and for good reason. You arrive there a couple of kilometers after turning off the main trunk road we rode in on out of Lijiang. None of the numerous tourist busses, minvans, or private cars ventured past Tiger Leaping Gorge Visitor Center and View Point because the road continues on another couple of hundred kilometers with no way off it. But we continued and virtually had the road to ourselves for the next several hours.

There were few towns on this road as we followed the angry Yangtze northwards as the terrain is way too steep and rugged to support a population of any size. Maybe we passed three towns over the next hundred kilometers.
At the first village we came to, around 15 ks past TLG, we stopped in a small guesthouse restaurant and dined on the freshest vegetables you could ever eat, snow peas, pan-fried wild mushrooms, egg and tomato omelet, a vegetable stock soup, and diced chicken with more veggies.

The TLG road continued another 22 ks north-northeast. When the gorge petered out and the Yangtze veered away, the road struck northwest and we climbed over a mountain pass that topped out at 2820 meters. It was down and up another two mountain passes and this brought us up onto the Himalaya plateau proper. We knew we were now officially on the eastern slope of the Himalaya massif when we started seeing herds of yaks. Yaks! For the last third of the ride we hardly ever dipped below 3000 meters. At this height we seemed to be above the tree line and the dominant pine forests gave way to small bush-type pines. Most of the land was open meadow covered with grass.

The day’s weather was mostly overcast and we did hit some intermittent drizzles, nothing worse than that. This slickened the road and we slowed down even more. Temperatures stayed in the low 20’s C and dipped into the high teens when we topped 3000 meters. All I had on was a synthetic, long-sleeved shirt under my body armor. Over that I wore an unlined, waterproof jacket and I did not feel cold. I probably would have if we were riding faster, but this was not the case. I started feeling a little chilly when we reached the Himalaya Plateau, but at this point we were only around 20 ks outside of Shangri-La and I did not feel like donning anything else for so short a duration

In this part of China the dominant population group is ethnic Tibetans of various subgroups. The ladies wear traditional costumes but the men sport cheap western-style clothing. Many village houses were log cabin-style with a roof fashioned from terracotta roof tiles weighted down with large stones. Animal husbandry seemed to be the main occupation. Herds of yaks, goats, sheep, and cattle grazed on the rich plateau grass, and assorted breeds of pigs wandered through the villages.

It took tremendous amounts of willpower over the entire day not to stop the bike every five minutes to take photos of these stunning scenes, as we knew we had lots of riding to cover.
(I know, I know, enough with the superlatives, but I know of no other way of describing the ride to Shangri-La.

The road itself was nearly perfect the entire way: excellent surface, terrific engineering. A sport bike would eat this type of riding up, as long as one remembered that most mistakes would end in a long, long drop to the valley floor. If you did not die, you certainly would wish you would have.

PUT IN SCREENSHOT OF GPS TRACK HERE

The final twenty ks were over a long, straight, flat road. I could see Shangri-La on the horizon, ringed behind by snow-capped mountains on all sides. The houses over this final stretch were massive and square; all two or three stories tall, each story being at least 15-20 feet in height, all facing east with a high surrounding, stucco-walled courtyard in the front of each house with a massive entrance gate. The gateway doors were always intricately carved and decorated. On each side of the dwellings, four massive tree trunks stripped of their bark, each one propped on a thick concrete foundation formed the basic framework. I know this because many houses were under construction, and this was a hint we were entering a prosperous region.

We reached our hotel an hour before sunset and the temperature was 16 C. We quickly changed and showered and walked to Shangri-La’s Old Quarter and here we entered another world. The narrow streets were rough paving stones worn smooth over the centuries. Lining the streets were solid rows of shop houses built in the Tibetan style. Colorfully decked out Tibetan tribal ladies were numerous, not posing for photos but doing their daily chores.

ENTER OLD QUARTER HERE

All the locals were friendly and curious about us, not shy at all, and went out of their way to be welcoming. If they were cooking something they offered us a taste. If they were making some sort of handicraft they enjoyed having us take their photos.
That night we supped in a Tibetan restaurant on Yak steaks that were tender and tasty and excellent. Local barley beer washed it down, also quite tasty.

After such a long ride we went to bed early. I awoke at dawn and the streets were all wet but there was no rain, no sun either. It was 8 C. George and I went to the famous Gandan Sumtseling Monastary and below, in front of it, is a photo of yours truly.

ENTER EMPEROR REED PHOTO HERE

Wednesday morning we intend to wake up early for what promises to be another excellent ride to Deqen and the holy Tibetan mountain, Kawa Karpo. I may have some spiritual connection with Kawa Karpo because a brass statue of the Tibetan holy deity that lives on this mountain is in my apartment. We shall see,

It will be chilly in the morning and I plan on wearing an extra couple of layers.

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.

, but lots of tiny villages, the ladies

================================================= This is the third-highest gorge in the world and it was formed by the fierce power of the Yangtze River in its earliest stages cutting through an arm of the Himalaya Mountains.

Post #6
Dateline: Sunday, June 2, midnight.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Present location: Jiliang.
Today’s riding distance: 167 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 3:15
Moving average: 51 kph.

Tomorrow destination: SHANGRI-LA!
Approximate distance: 220 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online. You can view them at the following url:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-2.html#post29354

Hello Interested Parties,

Oops, missed a day. So sorry. Just not enough time. The pace is non-stop, and as I am writing this I can see from my hotel window a fantastic scene of a massive group ethnic dance in the market square of Jiliang Old Town. Traditionally-costumed dancers are dancing in a large circle ringed by hundreds of onlookers flashing their cameras at them like electronic bubbles. The rhythmic, incessant pounding of tribal drums are vibrating my window panes. I really should be out there photographing and videoing the going-ons, but instead I feel an obligation to the followers of this blog to keep everyone updated on how this tour is going, which is going absolutely fabulous, by the way.

And since I missed yesterday, I’ll fill you in yesterday’s trip data right here.

Yesterday’s location: Dali
Driving distance: 345 kms.
Driving (moving) time: 4:43
Moving average: 73 kph

Below is the gps track, from the start, including the last two days:
INSERT GPS TRACK HERE

To start off with, I’ll briefly fill you in on yesterday’s ride.
Being in the center of Kunming, it took us awhile to reach the highway especially because we had to take a circuitous route to reach it. This is because mcs are not really allowed on the highways and we had to ride a ways out of town to take a lesser-used entrance than the main city ones.

This was the first day on the tour I can say I did not enjoy the riding. I did not hate it, but it was basically your typical, boring interstate-type highway riding with not much in the way of challenging curves. If you like highway riding, then you would have liked this ride. It was a Harley-cruiser-type ride. Plenty of people enjoy this type of riding but it is not my cup of tea. When the terrain grew rugged and canyony over the last 20 ks pleasure started creeping in again but it was too short-lived.

The road was marked AH 14 (Asia Highway) and when all the Asian countries can get there shit together regarding regional travel, this will be one of the main roads in the Pan-Asia highway system. Our bearing was west-northwest. Our highpoint hit 2200 meters and for most of the day we never dipped below 1600 meters. Traffic was light and the road condition was mostly fine on this restricted-access, four lane divided highway. The weather was fine.

Dali is situated on the north side of a large lake. It is a city with a long history and the town retains its old-style Chinese charm with blocks full of two story connected buildings with a curved roof eaves and curved terracotta tiles that look like bamboo. We ate well that night once again on traditional Yunnan dishes. The most interesting dish was a plate of assorted tree funguses. At the table next to ours sat a group of six, old Chinese men dressed in peasant jackets and peasant hats who looked like they participated back in the old days on the Long March with Chairman Mao.

Today we got another late start, mainly because both George and I overslept. It was raining, though, and we probably would have waited it out anyway. When we were ready to leave it pretty much tapered off and rain was not a factor for the rest of the day. Didn’t see much sun, though.
We did not take the highway today and instead took the old road up over the mountains that sort of paralleled the highway. The road was a narrow, two-lane undivided road without a shoulder that ran through many small towns. It was infinitely more interesting than yesterday’s highway, but a large number of lorries lumbering up and down it to escape the highway tolls were hard to pass. And when we did pass, passing was dangerous because the road surface was hazardous, covered with grit and sand and potholes. And oncoming cars were also trying to pass whenever they had a chance. Tough to say which one I preferred; this, or yesterday’s droning highway that bored straight through all the intervening mountains.

Today we peaked at over 2,500 meters and spent almost the entire day rarely dropping below 2,000 meters.

But we did make several interesting stops which would have been impossible if we took the highway. We stopped in a traditional Chinese farming community and wandered around a bit, but hardly anyone was around as they were all out working in their fields.
After that we rode into a large valley that was one huge rice field. Thousands of workers were spread across it in small teams planting new rice shoots by hand.

We pulled into Lijiang mid-afternoon and checked into our hotel which is in a perfect location; right on the edge of the Old City. Lijiang is a UNESCO world heritage site and THE most popular tourist destination in China. They get three times the amount of visitors than the Forbidden City and this is amazing as Jiliang is really out there in the boondocks. What also is amazing is that only twenty years ago hardly any visitors ever made their way to Lijiang.

If you think of an ancient Chinese city like you would see in a historic kung-fu movie, this is Jiliang. Every single place you turn your head there’s a fantastic photo. The building architecture is outstanding. Charm permeates everything. It is filled with tourists, but so what: everyone is marveling at the same things. Every single person has a camera and is shooting away, mostly at their friends and families posing in front of some charming scene

No cars are allowed in the Old City, not that any could pass through their narrow streets developed when horses and carts were in common use.

There is one huge open square which has become the de-facto starting point for a walking tour. Two ancient, gigantic, wooden waterwheels are still spinning in the stream that runs through Jiliang. I promise to post photos of Lijiang and a bunch of other places we visited when we reach SHANGRI-LA. I should have some extra time to devote to this blog because we plan on taking a rest day there.

That’s it for this post. Have to get ready for an early start for SHANGRI-LA tomorrow. Shangri-La! I still can’t believe it.

Until tomorrow, Bye-bye.

Post #5
Dateline: Friday, May 31, 7 p.m.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Present location: Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province.
Yesterday’s riding distance: 276 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 4:14
Moving average: 65 kph.

Tomorrow destination: Dali
Approximate distance: 340 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 5.5 hours

Below is a screen shot of our total gps track to date.
Each color represents a different day’s ride.
Total kms ridden so far: 1,260

INSERT GPS TRACK HERE

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online. You can view them at the following url:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-2.html#post29354

Now on to the blog:

Hello interested parties,

We’ll we made it to Kunming.
It’s another world here in this big city of 6.5 million people.

INSERT PHOTO OF STREET CORNER HERE!

Kunming is the largest city in Yunnan Province and it will be our base for future tours to this region. Their major international airport has connections to most other Asian capitals and it is only a 1.5 hour flight from Chiang Mai.

Kunming is known as the City of Eternal Spring because their weather is always pleasant; never too hot and humid and never too cold. Outside right now as I type, it couldn’t be any nicer: 26c, sunny, zero humidity.

Yesterday’s ride can be broken down into 3 parts on the same great highway I loved so much yesterday.

Segment 1: We awoke to heavy rain and decided to wait it out. Around 11, when the precipitation seemed to be tapering off, we departed the hotel, but immediately caught up to the rain again. We rode for two hours in a rain of constantly changing intensity. We kept the speedo at around 80 kph and had no problems dealing with the weather or the road. The design of the F800 kept me surprisingly dry.

One hundred and fifty ks later, we turned off the highway for lunch and had to wait for Pae in the 4×4 and our back-up crew of ground handlers driving a beat-up Chinese-made pickup to catch up; we seem to be driving at nearly double their speed and it was a long wait. Pae is an excellent driver and was complaining he is falling asleep because he has to follow our slow-poke ground handlers.
By the time we finished another excellent meal the rain stopped and the sun was beaming brightly down upon us.

Segment #2: Our post-lunch ride was as wonderful as yesterday’s and I am relishing every kilometer of riding. We topped out at over 2000 meters at the highest point of the roadway. For the last half of the ride we didn’t descend below 1,600 meters. The terrain remained steep and craggy but another couple of dozen tunnels bored right through the impeding land masses and allowed the road to curve sweetly and gently on and on and on.
After exiting one tunnel a sign announced we were going down a 27 km descent.

Segment #3: An hour after lunch we entered the outskirts of another major Chinese city, Yuxi, pop. 2.5 million. (There are 147 Chinese cities with a population of over one million! 147!) South of Yuxi the traffic started getting heavier as one would expect of a city of that size, and it got even heavier in the section heading to Kunming (pop. 6.5 million). Nothing terrible, but we were constantly changing lanes to skirt the slow-moving lorries and the slower private cars that started appearing in large numbers.

One pleasant surprise is the driving skills of the Chinese. I have heard they drive terribly, (just like all the local drivers do in Southeast Asia, generally). But the lorry drivers here are courteous and handle their vehicles safely and with skill, and most of the private cars gave us no trouble at all.

Around 25 ks south of Kunming we had to wait for our back-up crew again because mcs are not allowed on the last piece of highway into Kunming so we had to follow their pickups through heavy local congestion to our hotel in the city center. Every time we came to stop next to a bus, which was frequently, and had to wait out the long red lights, all the passengers would cram over to our side to gawk at us: our F800’s all decked out for touring is an exotic sight. China seems to have more than their fair share of exotic cars, but I haven’t seen any large-capacity mcs yet.

All in all a nice day in the saddle.

Today is a rest day in Kunming. Phil and I did some sightseeing, and our favorite place was Green Lake Park. Great place for people watching and Phil and I became sightseeing objects for the locals in the park. Here is one photo:

PLACE GREEN LAKE PHOTO HERE

George Migliorelli, the third member of our riding group, will be flying in this evening. Tomorrow he will ride a 250cc Chinese-brand off-road bike and accompany our tour for ten days. At the end of 10 days George, wherever we are, will fly back to Kunming where he will catch his flight back to HK and one of the ground handlers will ride his mc back to Kunming.

TIME
On a mc tour the pace is generally hectic, so the subject of this blog is: TIME, or rather the lack of it, especially when you are trying to produce a a blog about a journey that is both entertaining and informative.

As I mentioned in post #1, this is my first attempt at writing a blog and I’ve never even read a blog from anyone else before either. I had no idea how time consuming it is to produce what you are reading at this moment.

On a mc tour, we usually arrive at our hotel late afternoon, maybe 4-5 p.m. Immediately we crack open a couple of ice cold beers from the cooler and try to catch our breaths after a fatiguing ride. It feels so wonderful to finally stop moving.
Then we have to unpack the mcs and the 4×4, register and check into our rooms, unpack our belongings, wash some clothes, clean my helmet face shield and riding glasses, shower, and change for dinner. This requires at least an hour with no moments wasted.
We also try to fit in a bit of sightseeing wherever our intended destination is, or, when in Thailand, go for a massage.
Next activity is finding a restaurant, get there, order, eat, return back to the hotel, and by this time it is in the neighborhood of 9 p.m. After riding a mc all day, one is generally bone-tired, and my bed is looking awfully inviting. Need a bit of time to unwind before Mr. Sandman visits. And for those who dabble with the local lasses or enjoy a massage, this seriously eats into your sleep time.
An early departure on a tour of this length is a necessity, and in order to have our asses on the bike, key in the ignition at 7:30, we need to arise at 6 and rapidly do the triple ‘s’ (shit, shower, shave), pack, eat, settle with the hotel, check out, and pack the mcs. Whew.

But wait! These days there is myriad of electronic equipment to deal with, and new must-have gizmos become available weekly.

When I get into my hotel room, before I even jump into a shower, I have to start to recharge all my stuff, and many times there is only a single electrical outlet to handle it all! Two if I am lucky. So I have a charging queue going nearly all the time. And all the devices’ batteries require different charging durations.

Here is a list of what needs to be charged in my kit:

My helmet – it has a blue tooth communication system.

Go Pro VDO cameras – I use two, with battery packs, and each one eats two batteries in the morning and two in the afternoon. That often makes 8 batteries that need charging at night. I do have spare batteries and can skip a day of charging if needed.
Each GoPro also uses up a 32 gb memory card in the a.m. and one in the p.m., and these memory cards need to be downloaded to my computer and then erased. That’s 4 memory cards per day. I do have spares and can skip a day if needed, but sooner rather than later I need to go through the above drill.

My Canon Eos digital camera battery needs to be recharged daily and memory card downloaded

Cell phone needs to be recharged daily and photos downloaded as well.

I use 3 gps devices and every day each gps device needs to be recharged. My Zumo 660 goes through three batteries per day and they recharge extremely slow.
And every day I need to download the saved gps tracks and waypoints to the map program in my computer.
Yes, I know I do not have to do all this downloading daily, but I have to play it safe because if any one of the devices fails I have lost a ton of precious and irreplaceable date.
Then when I do download the tracks and waypoints I have to rename them, give them a meaningful title.

Then there’s my laptop – the brains behind everything. This has to be recharged daily and to write this blog I am using the following programs: Word, Map Source, Photoshop, Lightroom, Chrome, WordPress, and VideoPress.

In addition to doing all the above, and write the blog, and process, resize, and crop photos, and saving them for the web, I have to catch up on my emails, answer all incoming queries about my tours, do banking, and run a business from a remote location.

Then finally I MUST check out how the Yankees are doing, look at the latest box scores, and keep abreast of the NBA playoffs.

I often I have to waste 10 to 15 precious minutes just trying to hook up to the internet with the wifi and/or LAN connections, and quite frequently I have to deal with shoddy, intermittant internet connections on top of everything.

Try fitting in all the above in single day. It ain’t easy, believe me. No wonder I sleep for two solid days when I return home after a tour.

I swear on a stack of bibles I will never buy another electronic device again, no matter what it does, unless it can take the place of at least three of the current devices I am using.

So readers, if I miss a day or two of blogging, I beg your forgiveness. It’s not that I am not trying or being lazy. There just ain’t enough hours in my days.

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.

=================================================

 

Post # 16
 

Dateline: Thursday, June 13, 2013, 10 a.m. (but posted 4 days late).
&nbsp

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” blog.
 

Present location: Luangnamtha, Laos
Riding distance from Yuanyuang, China: 544 kms.
 

GPS track of ride from Yuanyuang, China to Luangnamtha, Laos.

GPS track of ride from Yuanyuang, China to Luangnamtha, Laos.


 

Driving (moving time): 6:15
Moving average: 87 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 1689 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 4248 kms.
 

Complete GPS track below:
 

Shangri-La GPS trip route from Chiang Mai to the Tibet border, return, at Luangnamtha.

Shangri-La GPS trip route from Chiang Mai to the Tibet border, return, at Luangnamtha.


 

Tomorrow’s destination: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Riding distance: 500 kms approximately.
Approximate riding time: 7.5 hours.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Luangnamtha in Laos, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-13.html#post30147
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

In Yuanyuang, Phil and I decided to wrap up this tour. We had seen enough and experienced enough to know we discovered the best motorcycling terrain in Asia, at least the best doable motorcycling terrain that is feasible to reach within a reasonable amount of time from our home bases in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Quite a few qualifications there.)
 

So we got on our bikes and rode, rode, rode, and rode some more, stopping only for a quick lunch, a piss or two, and a couple of petrol fill-ups. This portion of the route (the same portion we rode up on) was an excellent, high speed, limited access, dual carriage way with a perfect asphalt surface. Our speedos hovered between 120-130 kph and we blasted past every other vehicle on the highway. We even roared past a couple of police cars who didn’t seem to mind at all.
 

We hit the Chinese/Lao border by mid afternoon. Doing the paperwork in reverse, we had no trouble leaving The Middle Kingdom. The trouble seems always to be getting into these Asian countries; not getting out of them. For whatever reason they are only too happy to see us return from whence we came.
Entering Laos was a snap because this was the 2nd time we were entering Lao on this tour, and we had the drill down pat: immigration, customs, insurance. After a two-hour ride over a pleasant mountain road we checked into a pleasant guesthouse in Luangnamtha, a large town in the middle of Bokeo Province, and sat in the shade on a picnic bench sipping ice-cold Beer Laos. It feels so good to finally stop moving after so many hours on the throttle.
 

There are still so many roads, regions, towns and cities left to visit in Yunnan that it will keep Phil and myself busy for years. The topography of northern Yunnan Province is no less than the Himalaya Plateau itself, and the southern reaches of Yunnan are located in the Himalayan foothills, so anywhere you point your mc you will encounter outstanding riding. People who are familiar with the riding available in Northern Thailand, Northern Laos, and Northern Vietnam will have some idea of what this previous sentence suggests. Except in southern Yunnan, the mountain passes are higher, the valleys lower, the roads virtually empty, and the road conditions superb.
 

The Chinese locals were delightful; friendly, open, warm, and curious. They were eager to practice their budding English skills on us. Yunnan province gets lots of tourists from the rest of the motherland, and everyone here in Yunnan was out to have a good time and the three of us on our bikes were part of their good time. My expedition-equipped 4×4 was an equally big hit with the locals.
 

I found the food at every meal delicious. But after around two weeks of three meals a day of Chinese fare, I did get a hankering for Western food. Western food (in name only-not in taste or appearance) and fast food outlets like McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut are available only in the larger cities and tourist areas.
Coffee is nearly impossible to find (next tour I am bringing my own coffee brewing equipment). Cold drinks are also unimportant to the Chinese as they believe cold liquids put inside your system are inherently unhealthy. (Next tour I am buying for the support truck a 12 volt cooler. Maybe an expresso machine as well.)
Lodging choices throughout this tour were extensive and we always stayed in a hotel or guesthouse loaded with local charm.
 

I would’ve liked to stay longer in Shangri-La to visit the surrounding region and Tibetan culture in greater depth. I would have liked to jump off my bike more often and wander around the truly authentic and untouched local villages we roared past. But this was impossible to do because of the distances and time involved. Next time.
 

The weather was delightful (except for a single day of light rain and drizzle). The roads for the most part were in excellent condition and excellently engineered. The highways we rode in China were the equal, if not superior to anything I’ve ridden in The States (from a motorcycling standpoint.)
 

Which brings us to the $50,000 question: which is the best type of motorcycle to ride on this tour?
 

Phil and I both thought the BMW F800GS’s were perfect. They were powerful enough for the highways, robust enough to handle the occasional crappy roads we encountered (not many, thankfully), handled great, were 100% reliable, had a large fuel capacity, and were comfortable enough to ride hour after hour, day after day.
 

Could a road bike do this tour? Like a Harley or a Ducati or a Kawasaki Verysy. Yes they can.
But around 5-10% of the roads would make a rider miserable if he was riding one of these bikes. However, those same bikes, on around 5-10% of the roads would be in all their glory, especially on some of the winding, rolling, high speed highways we motored on during the southern portions of our route.
 

What about a motorcycle like a Kawasaki KLR 250 or anything else in that class? Well that bike could easily handle each and every road we rode on this tour. They would be underpowered on the highways and that would negate a lot of the fun riding we had on this trip. And if you did not have a support vehicle like we had, you would be saddled down with luggage and gear and would be awefully cramped in the saddle. All the extra gear would slow you down even more so. But bottom line; a tour in Yunnan is doable on a 250 dual-purpose bike.
 

If a rider is skillful in handling a large capacity street bike in large Asian city where no traffic rules and regulations seem to be in play, and if a rider is skillful enough to be able to handle his street bike over the occasional ugly road sections that we hit, then he will do fine.
This is not a tour for anyone who is not used to Asian city riding techniques. This is not a tour for anyone who is not 100% comfortable riding a large capacity motorcycle on an ever-changing variety of roads.
 

However, I strongly recommend taking a dual-purpose mc on this tour. Any mc at least 650 cc or over would be ideal (non-fuel-injected models will have trouble with some of the altitudes we hit on the higher passes). Riding a dual-purpose motorcycle, a rider can fully enjoy 100% of the roads on this Shangri-La tour just like Phil, George and I did. In fact, George rode a 250cc dual-purpose bike for the northern part of this tour. We did have a couple of days of highway riding leaving and returning to Kunming, and George, on those sections, was not a happy camper. But he did it, no sweat.
 

Tomorrow is going to be the final post of this blog. Because tomorrow all Phil and I have to do is ride home safely and we will be back in our homes in Chiang Mai by suppertime. For all intents and purposes, this tour is now history.
 

That’s it for now. Bye bye.
 
 

 

Post # 15
 

Dateline: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 midnight (but posted 3 days late).
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” blog.
 

Present location: Yuanjiang, Yunnan Province.
Riding distance from Jianshui: 310 kms.
 

GPS Track-Jiangshui to Yuanjiang

GPS Track-Jiangshui to Yuanjiang


 

Driving (moving) time: 6:39
Moving average: 46.5 kph
Highest elevation reached: 2055 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3704 kms.
 

Complete trip GPS track below:
 

Shangri-La Tour Cumulative GPS Track

Shangri-La Tour Cumulative GPS Track


 

Tomorrow’s destination: China-Lao border crossing at Boten.
Riding distance: 500 kms approximately.
Approximate riding time: 6 hours.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Yuanjiang and our rest day in Jianshui, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-13.html#post30147
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Sorry for this delayed trip post. Last night I was just too tired and fell asleep immediately after dinner. And the night after that the internet connection was not working.
 

Anyway, on Wednesday we had another great day blasting around Yunnan Province. Glorious sunny weather blessed us in total contrast to our last day’s riding in a dismal all-day drizzle. But this was coupled with a seriously wide range of temperatures. We started out in the morning from Jianshui at 13.5 C, hit 10 C at the top of our first mountain pass and ended up the day at 33.5 C. This is because Jianshui is situated at 1300 meters in elevation and Yangjiang, in the Red River basin, sits at a lowly 400 meters. The bracingly cool and dry weather on this tour is now history as we are now fully off the Himalaya Plateau and in the subtropical region of Southeast Asia. Temperatures will dip and climb in a smaller range than what we have become accustomed to. This will happen when we climb up and over several more high mountain passes.
 

(Despite the wide range of temperatures, I have kept myself quite comfortable using a combination of only two outer coverings; a cotton hooded sweatshirt and a waterproof, windproof, unlined, zip-up jacket. When it is cold I wear the hoodie under the rain jacket. When it warms up, I take off the hoodie and wear only the rain jacket. When it gets hot I wear only a synthetic long-sleeve pullover shirt under body armor that always stays on, and that is it.)
 

Today’s riding can be broken down into three separate segments; all of them superb. The riding was so good and ended on such a high note, that for the life of me I cannot remember what our morning ride was like. The only reason why I know it was great is because I have written in my notebook, as a reminder, that the morning ride contains excellent video footage so it must have been terrific.
 

(It will take a couple of weeks for my video editors to whittle down the 375 gigabytes of video I recorded on this tour into an hour or two of watchable riding segments. I will send out further notices when these videos are posted online. I will make notifications of these video postings on my website and on ASIAN MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES’ Facebook page.)
 

After the great ride in the morning that I cannot remember anything about other than it was fantastic, we drove up into the Yuanyang rice terraces. These terraces basically cover every square inch of an immense box canyon, climbing up the slopes and walls all the way to the ridge line, and are a marvel to behold. They remind me a lot of Sapa’s rice terraces in northern Vietnam. I pulled out my map and saw that these two places are only around 40 kms apart as the bird flies. Being that the topography, weather, and soil in both places are identical, and that this region is populated by basically the same ethnic groups, it dawned on me that this entire region, thousands upon thousands of square miles, must be one gigantic terraced rice growing area, and that anywhere in this region that you looked at or drove to would be equally spectacular. I would love to fly above this region in an ultralight.
 

China claims these rice terraces are the largest in the world. I don’t quite agree with that claim as I have visited the Batad and Baangan rice terraces at Banaue in The Philippines, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately, the Banaue rice fields are deteriorating because there are no longer enough people around to work them. Most of the younger generation choose instead to pursue an education to escape the rice-growing life of constant toil.
 

We drove our mcs in a big loop around the Yuanyang rice terraces. The road was superb and in excellent condition, and the locals were all colorfully-dressed Hani and Yi ethnic minority and curious about us and our motorcycles. It was hard to drive even half a kilometer before needing to hop off our mcs to take a photo of a new vista that opened up before our eyes.
 

Below is a gps riding segment track from today’s ride.
 

GPS track of Yuanyang rice terraces.

GPS track of Yuanyang rice terraces.


 

Once we left the rice terraces, we changed directions and started driving northwest up the Red River Basin. The Red River is another of the important rivers in this region. Its source is near Dali in Yunnan Province and it flows into north Vietnam in basically a straight line before emptying into the Gulf of Tonkin.
 

The Red River road followed a contour line for the most part and was nearly devoid of other road users. The road condition for such a little-used road was in excellent condition, except where the road bed subsided under the asphalt causing big cracks and waves in the road surface, and except where huge and medium-sized boulders fell from the surrounding cliffs and winded up sitting on the road for who knew how long. It was great fun running through this obstacle course of boulders and this road was far different from anything else we had driven so far on this tour. The scenery was equally spectacular as anything else we have seen but in a completely different way.
If I had to describe the roads on this tour using two words only, they would be ‘outstanding variety’.
 

It was late afternoon when we pulled into the small city of Yuanjiang and checked into the only high-rise hotel in town. We had great views across the river valley from the 14th floor. Yuanjiang is said to have the tastiest mangos in China, and grows over 200 varieties. We missed the annual mango festival by a day so they were selling for ridiculously cheap prices. We didn’t buy a single one.
 

Dinner tonight was another great meal in a weird-looking restaurant that looked like a hospital clinic. Most Chinese people do not look at a menu. Instead the wander into the kitchen, inspect the produce and meats, and discuss with the cooking staff how best to prepare it. A foreigner would find this impossible to do so Pae and our ground handler did all selecting. Phil is the only problem eater in our group. He doesn’t go hungry or anything like that because there is always a lot of fresh veggies and rice, but he is picky and choosey about what type of meat and fish goes into his mouth and won’t eat anything with egg in it, unlike the three of us who eat, and want to try just about anything.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye, bye.
 

 
 

Post # 13 + Post #14
 

Post # 13 is about our ride from Kunming to Jianshui.
Post # 14 is about our rest day in Jianshui
 

Dateline: Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Jianshui, Yunnan province.
Riding distance from Kunming: 220 ks.
 

Below is the GPS track of this ride:
 

GPS track of today's ride: Dali Lake, east bank to Jian Shui.

GPS track of today’s ride: Dali Lake, east bank to Jian Shui.


 

Driving (moving) time: 4:37
Moving average: 46.5 kph
Highest elevation reached: 2173 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3394 kms.
 

Complete trip GPS track below:
 

GPS Track entire trip: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return, Jian Shui

GPS Track entire trip: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return, Jian Shui


 

Tomorrow’s destination: Yuanyang.
Riding distance: 100 kms
Approximate riding time: 2.5 hours.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Jianshui and our rest day in Jianshui, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-12.html#post30049
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Our trip is winding down. So much more is behind us than ahead and this makes me sad. It seems that every day on this tour so far, somehow, someway, has always been better than the day before. But when we woke up in Kunming for our ride to Jianshui, this streak appeared to be over. The whole point of a motorcycle tour is to find great riding and have fun, and rain has a way of putting a damper on this.
 

It was a grey, drizzly morning and the temperature was 14C. And we knew from yesterday’s ride into Kunming that the ride out of the city was going to be bereft of any riding pleasure. And it was. The rain, decreased visibility drastically as well as degraded our traction, making a treacherous drive even more so. Several times I had close calls with vehicles much larger than myself doing the stupidest things in front of me. I have come to expect such moves from the Chinese drivers at all times and thus was able to avoid grievous injury. Using my horn got no one’s attention so I started yelling at people. The shock value of doing this worked wonders, because whenever I yelled, the drivers stopped in mid-maneuver and instead just stared at me and forgot to drive.
 

When we left the city limits and climbed into the southern mountains that ring the city, the rain increased in intensity and the temperature started dropping, all the way down to 9C during one stretch. Every couple of seconds I needed to swipe my face shield with my glove, and this meant taking a much needed hand off my handlebars. The light drizzle turned into a heavy drizzle and back again many times. It never came down heavy and never stopped. The temperatures bounced with the altitude, between 9 and 14C, but at least I wasn’t cold. On the verge, yes, but okay. I was only wearing a synthetic long-sleeve shirt under my body armor. Over that a sweatshirt and my outer layer was a waterproof, zip-up jacket made by Northface. The F800GS kept my body and legs remarkably dry and I am sure that was not by accident. My gloves were soaked through, though.
 

Couldn’t see much of anything in terms of scenery as the rain decreased our visibility and our eyeballs had to be glued to that piece of roadway directly in front of us.
 

Phil and I were pretty miserable when we stopped for lunch but elated to still be alive. And what a lunch it was. We dined in a restaurant famous for duck and the one we ate was fantastic. The ducks are cooked in big, rotund, barrel-shaped clay ovens. The heat comes up from the bottom and the ducks hang down by their necks on metal s-hooks from the inside lip of the oven. Sumptuous, and a great price, as this full-blown feast came to under USD5 per head.
 

The duck brightened up an overall dismal day, and once again we hopped on our bikes for the final 40 km stretch into town. There was a highway directly to our west but this was one of the highways mcs are not allowed to use. The local road we were forced to ride was in poor condition, with big pools of water covering the road surface, lots of potholes and lots of mud. Phil and I really slowed it down and we limped into Jianshui in the late afternoon. And then it stopped raining.
 

We found a steakhouse in a shopping mall outside our hotel. Phil has had just about enough of Chinese food by this point and ordered a proper surf and turf which he said wasn’t bad. I ate nothing as I was still stuffed from lunch. After dinner we strolled into the old quarter of Jianshui where most of the old buildings are still intact and nicely restored. The ground floors were a series of boutiques selling mostly women clothes and shoes, antique shops, silver and jewelry stores, hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants. This area is famous for a black-type of pottery and a lot of stores were selling this.
 

The old quarter had a nice atmosphere and feel to it, somewhat marred by frequent horn-blaring scooters and cars riding down what should be a pedestrian-only area. Chinese drivers surely have a love affair with their horns.
This old quarter was similar to, but different from all the other old quarters we visited during this tour. It is great fun strolling through them, marveling at the intricate architectural details and seeing how Chinese tourists enjoy spending their holiday time. Everyone was friendly and in upbeat moods. I would be surprised if this Old Quarter is not turned one day into a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 

Phil and I turned a corner and a huge, red building that looked somewhat like the facade of the Forbidden City in Beijing loomed ahead of us. It was one of the restored city gates. There was a stairway up to the pavilion level and we took a bunch of pictures on the Old Quarter side. When we wandered over to the opposite side of the gate and looked down at the square below us, it was filled with groups of people dancing to different prerecorded music blaring from portable stereos.
 

When we saw the activity below us, Phil and I looked at each other and smiled, because a scene like this is exactly the reason why we drove 3500 kms to find and enjoy. This was the essence of adventure travel, discovering something so far removed from our everyday experiences. You turn a corner on a tour such as ours and you have no idea what you will find. Sometimes nothing, and sometimes something awe inspiring. This was one of the latters.
 

We walked down to the dancers and took a bunch more photos. One group was dancing in synchronized steps in a big circle to an atonal but pleasant hilltribe folk tune. They wore little contraptions on their fingers which they snapped quite loudly on the downbeats. We watched the goings on for an hour and retired to our hotels for the night.
 

Last night I slept in a different hotel from everyone else, mainly because it was more expensive. It was a restored mansion and formal gardens of an extremely wealthy family that was built at the turn of the last century. This is one of two family mansions like this left in the country that used to have thousands. All the others fell victim to the cultural revolution. My room was filled with antique furniture and a four-poster bed. In my closet was a period Chinese robe, hat, and slippers that I could wear if I really wanted to get into the mood.
 

Today dawned just as fine and nice as all the others. We went to visit another ancient Chinese city on the outskirts of Jianshui that has been turned into a living museum. Check out Phil’s photos of this village at the url above. Another great place to take a ton of photos.
 

Then we visited an old bridge sitting on seventeen spans, with two old gate houses; one in the middle and one at one end.
 

After this we called it a day and tomorrow we are off to see some famous rice fields which have to be seen to be believed, I hope it doesn’t rain.
 

Time for me to pack and say goodnight. My laundry just arrived and it cost USD50. Ouch.
 

That’s it for now. Bye, bye.
 
 
 

Post # 12
 

Dateline: Midnight, Sunday, June 9, 2013).
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province.
Riding distance from the east bank of Dali Lake: 375 ks.
 

Below is the GPS track of this ride:
 

Day's ride from Dali Lake east bank to Kunming

Day’s ride from Dali Lake east bank to Kunming


 

Driving (moving) time: 5:09
Moving average: 73 kph
Highest elevation reached:2394 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 3374 kms.
 

Complete trip GPS track below:
 

GPS track of trip so far: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return to Kunming

GPS track of trip so far: Chiang Mai to Tibet Border, return to Kunming


 

Tomorrow’s destination: Jian Shui
Riding distance: 220 kms
Approximate riding time: 4:30
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Kunming, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-11.html#post29949
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Were back in Kunming for the 2nd time this trip as we head south on our return to Chiang Mai.
 

Still plenty of incredible stuff before us, but we only had a little bit of it today. The little bit was the ride around Dali Lake. On our drive northwards at the beginning of this tour we overnighted in the charming town of Dali. Its situated on the western bank of the lake, the same side of the lake where the major thoroughfare runs. So on our southward swing we decided to explore new territory on the east bank. We got off to an early start for a change and drove through a slew of fishing communities along the lake shore. Some interesting sights but nothing mind-blowing along this 50+ kilometer ride. It was rural and nice and traffic was light with no commercial freight haulers or dump trucks to dodge and pass. (it seems like one of the largest commercial activities in China is moving dirt, rocks, gravel, and sand from one place to another, and man, do they make a mess of it.)
 

After this we jumped on the main highway. It was a 280 kms high speed stretch on a restricted-access dual carriageway whose surface was in excellent condition. Phil and I kept the needle mostly between 120 and 130 kph and not a soul passed us. But George, riding a 250 cc dirt bike could not keep up, plus his range between fill-ups was only a third of ours. So Phil and I had to wait at least 15-20 minutes for George at rest stop service stations every 100 kms or thereabouts. At each station Phil and I downed Red Bulls because both of us find this type of riding boring. For those of you who drive Harleys and Goldwings, you would have loved this section because it was mountainous and scenic and nothing too hairy. Phil and I like hairy.
 

In China mcs are not really allowed on the highways, and they are more strict about enforcing this rule in large urban centers like Kunming. So we had to jump off the highway around 40 ks before the city and take local roads all the way in. It was a traffic-choked, dirty, dusty, and dangerous ride to our hotel. The Chinese drivers on the open road are pretty much okay, unless they are driving a large luxury car which makes them think they own the road and everyone else can go to hell. But in the city everyone, including trucks, buses, taxis, farm vehicles, whole families on a motor scooter, drive like maniacs. The only rules of thumb I have figured out in the city is that whoever is driving near you will do everything in their power to get in front of of you, and the concept of right-of-way does not exist. I almost bought the farm a couple of times on the ride in, and the amount of curse words that I uttered were uncountable. I even gave up using my horn and started screaming at anyone around me who was trying to pull a sleazy move. Sleazy moves in my book, that is, but perfectly normal driving behavior for Chinese drivers. They couldn’t understand a word but it did get their attention. We have been told the government is tightening up their driving test parameters, but I see no indication of this.
 

We pulled into our hotel at around 3 p.m., took a quick shower, and George packed his belongings because he was flying back to his home in Hong Kong that evening.
 

For those of you who hate McDonalds, as I do, here is a sure-fire way to change your opinion: eat fourteen straight days of Chinese food. For the three of us, our McDonald meal was like manna from heaven. I ordered their Surf & Turf; A Filet Of Fish sandwich and a Big Mac with fries and ice cream for desert. I never thought I would say this in my life, but I relished every bite.
 

George departed for the airport. Phil went to his room to work on selecting photos for his web site, and I went to the hotel health spa, which was a most refreshing experience. I am kicking myself I did not take advantage of this during our two-night stay at the beginning of this trip.
The first thing I did was shower, then scraped two-weeks growth of hair off my face, needing three razor blades to accomplish this. I took a dip in a Jacuzzi hot tub that could easily accommodated 200 persons (there were four people using it when I was there). Climbed out and jumped into the steam room, worked up a sweat, back into the shower, Jacuzzi again, into the sauna this time, another shower, Jacuzzi, steam room, shower. When my pulse hit the 200 rpm mark, I sat down for a while to readjust to earth surface temperatures. Then the staff led me to a private bedroom where an Asian beauty gave me a 90-minute oil massage.
 

I stumbled up to my room and slept the sleep of the dead. Have another big day coming up tomorrow. Will tell all soon. Bye, bye.
 
 
 

 

Post #11
 

Dateline: Saturday, June 8, midnight.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Town of Haichaohe on the eastern shore of Dali Lake.
Riding distance from Shaxi: 151 kms.
 

GPS Track from Shaxi to Dali Lake

GPS Track from Shaxi to Dali Lake


 

Driving (moving) time): 3:47
Moving average: 40 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 3030 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2999 kms.
Complete trip track shown below:
 

Cumulative track from Chiang Mai start to Dali Lake

Cumulative track from Chiang Mai start to Dali Lake


 

Tomorrow destination: Kunming (for the 2nd time as we head south)
Approximate distance: 340 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 7 hours
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Dali Lake, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-10.html#post29906
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Another excellent day in the saddle, but for the first time, not the entire ride.
 

We started out at 10:30 a.m. This was late for us, but we had a shortish day ahead and our energy stores were running low.
 

We backtracked south out of magical Shaxi on the road we rode in on for around 45 ks. Parts of this road was wonderful, other parts not so great because of commercial traffic and a broken up road surface. Our biggest road hazard besides the usual farm animals and slow-moving tractors were a fleet of overloaded dump trucks that were tough to pass on this narrow road, but were also intolerable to drive behind. The drove so slowly, especially on the upgrades and their loads of fine sand was wafting off their back ends like a dust storm, plus they were spewing out thick diesel exhaust fumes.
 

At 45 ks we turned eastwards up a large mountain ridge that forms the eastern wall of the Yangtze River basin. The road was called either Rt. D-89 or O-89 as written on the kilometer markers. The road surface changed regularly and intermittently from good asphalt to rotten rocky raw road bed and was, by far, the worst surface conditions we experienced on the tour, but nothing that gave our BMW’s any difficulty. (The locals love our BMWs and pronounce them as Bore Ma. They completely have given up on trying to pronouncing the ‘w’.)
 

This was a big-ass mountain and the road itself (not counting the road surface) and views were superb. We topped out at 3030 meters, the temperature touched 16C, and I needed to don my sweatshirt. There were hundreds of hairpin turns and below is a gps screen shot of one section of this road:
 

GPS screen shot from ride to Dali Lake

GPS screen shot from ride to Dali Lake


 

The ride down the eastern side of the mountain was equally outstanding and so were the views. The weather was overcast and a few sprinkles freckled my face shield.
 

Then we jumped on a road which we traveled northwards on earlier on the trip and stopped for one of the best meals so far in a halal Chinese restaurant.
 

Instead of staying in Dali town as we did on our way up, we drove along the eastern shore of Dali Lake to the charming lakeside town of Haichahe, which is attracting an artsy, high-end crowd. Expansion here is in full-swing.
 

After checking into our hotel and showering, we took a stroll and ended up on the lakeshore esplanade filled with restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, souvenir shops, and all that sort of touristy stuff. This was another “wow” moment for Phil, George, Jah, and myself because the view across the lake and the mountain we just drove down is a scene that I will never forget. The sun was setting over the high western mountains and throwing shafts of god’s light onto the lake and the opposite shore.
(Don’t forget to check out Phil’s photos at:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-10.html#post29906
 

Tomorrow is going to be a long ride back down to the capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming but it will be mostly on highway. From there George will fly back to Hong Kong, and Phil, Jah, and myself will work out a plan of action for riding through southern Yunnan Province on our return to Chiang Mai.
 

Now here are some of my personal cultural impressions of China:
I lived in Hong Kong from 1990-95 and travelled inside it extensively by motorcycle and for business. And, man, has it changed in the interim. Back then, it was dirty and garbage-strewn. Anything that was being built was always left in some degree, unfinished. Not a penny was spent on decor, styling, or finishing. There were few cars and millions of bicycles. There wasn’t a single highway. The Chinese would stare at us foreigners like we just disembarked from a spaceship from Mars.
This has completely changed. (Or maybe things are totally different in Yunnan compared to the rest of China.)
 

Cars are everywhere, bicycles are few. Small mcs and scooters, especially electric scooters, are extremely popular. Luxury cars abound. I’ve never seen so many Porsche Cayenne’s and Cadillacs. All the Chinese tourists are walking around with expensive cameras and lenses hanging from their necks, many of them the most expensive cameras and lenses produced. Everyone is friendly, and helpful, and courteous, and curious about us, especially when we are by our mcs dressed in our riding gear.
 

Public bathrooms are still hideous, some of the time, compared to all of the time in the old days.
 

In the old days I hated to go into China. Now I am having the greatest of times. I’ll have to see about the rest of the country because I hear there is some excellent riding up in Chengdu.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye, bye.
 
 

 

Post #10
 

Dateline: Saturday, June 8; 9 a.m.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Unlike my other posts I am writing this one in the morning because I fell asleep instantly immediately after dinner. I was so tired yesterday that I actually fell asleep on my motorcycle. It was on a straightaway, luckily, and I snapped out of my doze before I could crashed. In the next town I purchased and quickly downed two Red Bulls.
 

I have awoken to a beautiful morning in Shaxi at 2128 meters. The scene outside my guesthouse window is one of low mountains, the bluest of skies and scattered pillows of clouds.
 

Riding statistics to Shaxi:
 

Present location: Shaxi.
Riding distance from Weixi: 279 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 5:44
Moving average: 47.5 kph.
Highest elevation reached: 2889 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2848 kms.
Complete trip track shown below:
 

GPS track from Chaing Mai to Shaxi

GPS track from Chaing Mai to Shaxi


 

Trip track to Shaxi shown below:
 

GPS track: Weixi to Shaxi

GPS track: Weixi to Shaxi


ENTER YESTERDAYS TRIP TRACK HERE
Tomorrow destination: Dali (for the 2nd time as we head southwards)
Approximate distance: 150 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 4 hours
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our latest day’s ride, you can view them at the following url:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-9.html#post29852
 

Hello interested parties!
 

I do not know how long things can continue in this vein, but we enjoyed another fantastic ride, more fantastic roads, and we are staying in the most amazing place on this tour so far, Shaxi.
 

Shaxi is the only ancient Chinese city left pretty much untouched as it looked centuries ago. I am pasting the Wikipedia entry of the Shaxi below, as they describe Shaxi way better than I can:
 

Shaxi (Chinese: 沙溪) is a historic market town in Jianchuan County, Dali refecture, Yunnan province, China. It is located roughly halfway between Dali and Lijiang.
The Sideng market square of Shaxi was added to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2001.[1]
Shaxi started as a trading point for tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). The prosperity of the town was at its height during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912).
It is probably the most intact horse caravan town on the Ancient tea route leading from Yunnan into Burma and Tibet[2] and is now being preserved through a cooperation between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH) and the People’s Government of Jianchuan County.[3]
Nearby Shibao mountain contains Buddhist rock carvings and temples of over 1300 years old with, amongst others, images of the bodhisattva Guanyin.
The two main ethnic groups of Shaxi are the Bai and Yi people.
 

Shaxi building

Shaxi building


 

Shaxi alley

Shaxi alley

 

Shaxi main square

Shaxi main square


 
PhilWithGods-Shaxi-600x

Yesterday’s first third of the ride was on the best sports bike-style road we encountered yet. The surface was in near perfect condition, traffic was light, and the bends were challenging and frequent. Unlike when we were deep in the Himalayas, where missing a turn would mean death, this morning we had no such fear tempering our riding fun.
 

The terrain we rode through was filled with karst limestone similar to what we are used to in Thailand and Laos, except here the karsts are much higher and way more massive
 

We followed a clear-running meandering river. It ran downhill all the way generally heading east-southeast from the top of the mountain ridge that separated the Mekong and Yangtze River basins.
After an hour, the stream we were following joined the Yangtze. We had to choose whether to ride on the west bank of the Yangtze which was the faster route on a main road, or the much quieter east bank. We chose the east bank.
 

It was another terrific road. Here the Yangtze was wide and gentle and rock and rapid free and ringed in all the way by a wall of karst mountains. The road was narrow and our shoulders were practically scrapping the farm houses on both sides. We weren’t riding through a landscape, we were a part of it.
Very rural. Very traditional architecture, exactly like what you would imagine what the Chinese countryside would look like. Better yet, take a look at Phil’s photos at this link.
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-9.html#post29852
 

ForestTemple-600x

When the land was open it was filled with farm fields of rice, corn, tobacco, and many other assorted crops. Every 10 ks or so we entered a small village. Our pace was slow because the road was narrow and windy, but also because wherever we pointed our eyes was a photo opportunity crying to be captured. Some signs of the Tibetan culture started to reappear, but nothing like before. The giveaways are the strings of prayer flags fluttering in the breezes.
We stopped in a small town and had another fantastic lunch.
 

Around 2 hours later we made a right turn at a junction and started climbing out of the Yangtze River basin. And this was the first bad road we hit on the tour. It was potholed and patched up with tar and there was quite a bit of slow-moving commercial traffic, especially uncovered dump trucks which were creating mini-dust storms in their wake. This road was not any fun at all and all our concentration was directed on passing the creeping lorries and avoiding oncoming ones that tried running us off the road.
But this is the last time we will ever take this road because a brand- new, limited-access, dead straight elevated highway is nearing completion to the north of this crap road.
 

An hour of this brought us to a junction. We veeered east then south, up and down over a series of low foothills and we finally arrived in Shaxi.
Unlike Daliang and Shangri-La this town hardly has any tourists. It is filled with local Bai and Yi ethnic groups living their daily life.
 

After another fantastic dinner, we returned to our guesthouse for a good, long sleep.

 
I have to wrap this blog up now because departure time is here.
 

So until tomorrow, Bye, bye.
 
 

 

Post #8 & Post #9
 

Dateline: Friday, June 7; time: early morning.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

So sorry, interested readers for missing yesterday’s post. We stayed in a shithole of a hotel last night. My only furniture was a bed; couldn’t set up my computer gear to write. Bad internet connection. Dead tired as well. Sensory overload of the highest degree. More below……
 

Yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) destination: Diqen
Riding distance to Diqen from Shangri-La: 188 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 4:32
Moving average: 41.4 kph.
Diqen elevation: 3458 meters
Highest elevation reached: 4292 meters (highpoint on this tour).
Total trip cumulative distance to Diqen: 2239 kms.
Trip track shown on map below:
 

Route-Chiang Mai to Weixi

Route-Chiang Mai to Weixi


 

Thursday, June 6 present location: Weixi with side trip to Tibet border.
Riding distance to Weixi from Diqen including side trip to Tibet border: 330 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 6:14
Moving average: 55.1
Weixi elevation: 2247 meters
Highest elevation reached: 3467 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2569 kms.
Trip track shown on map below:
 

Last 2 days: Shangri-La to Kara Karpo to Tibet Border - Turn around - Drive south to Weixi

Last 2 days: Shangri-La to Kara Karpo to Tibet Border – Turn around – Drive south to Weixi


 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Diqen, the Tibet border, and Weixi, you can view them at the following 2 urls:
 

To Diqen:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-6.html#post29646
 

To the Tibet border and return, then on to Weixi:
 

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-8.html#post29761
 

Tomorrow’s destination: Shaxi
Approximate distance: 220 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Somehow, someway, the riding just gets better and better and better. Today, though, we finally hit some bad road conditions due to a lot of landslide activity along the route. Some parts were downright hairy; still great fun in a sick sort of way. Always feels good to survive a ride.
 
 

Let me start off with yesterday’s ride to Kawa Karpo, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain at 6740 meters. To get there we had to drive up and down and up and down and up again the three river basins of three of the most important rivers in Asia. From east to west, they are; the Yangtze, the Mekong, and the Salween. These rivers run basically parallel to each other in upper Yunnan Province for a couple of hundred kilometers, rushing south from their headwaters deeper inside the Himalayas. In my rough estimation, as the bird flies, the three rivers are no more than fifty kilometers apart but separated by high mountain ridges in the 5000 meter range. Only one road connects all three, Rt. G 233 and this is what we drove north northwest on all day. The mountains around us still have snow cover in early June, and some of them are glaciated, like Kara Karpo itself. If we are not on the roof of the world, we are close to it.
 

The road conditions continue to be excellent, and we could be driving a lot faster than we are, but the jaw-dropping scenery is holding us up, as are frequent photo stops. In fact, anywhere you point a camera, you will wind up with a dramatic photo of nature at its most awesome. You should look at some of Phil Gibbins photos at the url at the top of this page to see firsthand what we are experiencing on our bikes. Meanwhile, here is a GPS screenshot of one section of road.
 

GPS track from ride to Weixi

GPS track from ride to Weixi


 

It is amazing that the Chinese built such great roads in such a rugged and remote region, but thank you very much. The people living in northwestern Yunnan are Tibetans, not the predominant Han Chinese, and it is said that they live a more traditional lifestyle than their brethren in most of Tibet. Their main livelihood seems to be animal husbandry, especially yaks, as they are well suited to life at altitudes above 3000 meters.
 

Their houses are huge, square around the base, two or three stories high, with slightly inward leaning, slightly trapezoidal walls. The eaves, rooflines, and gateways are intricately carved and colorfully painted. I would love to live in one.
 

The Tibetans believe that one of their gods dwells on Kawa Karpo. Tibetan pilgrims from all over make a point to visit it sometime in their lives. The way they pay homage to the god is to walk around the base which takes more than a week.
 

Phil, George, and I paid homage to Kawa Karpo by driving to it, muttering thanks all the way for making such a ride possible. I thought I would have had some kind of epiphany when I arrived there because of the statue I have in my apartment, but the wonder I felt at seeing such an awesome mountain was shared equally by every visitor in the town of Diqen.
 

We never saw the entirety of Kawa Karpo because part of it was always hidden in clouds, but I do think I saw the peak briefly in a small slot in the cloud cover.
 

Our hotel in Diqen was a shithole, as I mentioned earlier. But other choices were even poorer. There was one expensive option, the USD400/night Regalia hotel. That was beyond all of our budgets, even if all six of us crammed into one room.
 

Today, Thursday morning, George woke up with a fever, chills, and a headache and was not able to ride his bike. We let George sleep in late and Phil and I rode northwards with Pae following in the 4×4 to the Tibet-China border just to see what we could see. We knew we couldn’t get through because we didn’t have the right paperwork, nor did we want to. We just needed the slimmest of excuses to ride our mcs anywhere there was a road. And just like all the other roads, this one was another great one.
 

It was 55 kms to the border and the same back to Diqen. When we returned, George still was feeling ill and could not ride his bike, so he let our ground handler, Jah, ride his mc, and he rode in the pick-up.
 

We left Diqen before noon and rode down from the Himalaya Plateau on into the Mekong River Basin. The Tibetans and their homes and culture gradually dissipated and Han Chinese culture took over, which is based on irrigated rice growing.
 

We followed the Mekong River most of the day. Sometimes the road was several hundred meters above it but by the end of the day we were just a little ways above the river surface itself. The Mekong up here is an angry young river and the part we first followed was filled with roiling rapids. High, sheer cliffs hemmed the Mekong in, and hundreds of waterfalls running crystal clear added to the surging flow.
 

The river road started out at around 2000 meters, and by the end of the day we ever so gradually descended to 1700 meters before climbing out of the river basin to tonight’s hotel in Diqen.
 

The sheer cliffs and ridges hemming in the Mekong are prone to landslides and this damaged the road surface in hundreds of places during the day. The near-perfect road conditions finally petered out.
At one point there was a landslide in progress, and dirt and rocks of various sizes tumbled down a steep canyon wall across the roadway. When the falling scree slowed down in volume and nothing big was tumbling across the road we made a dash across the landslide path.
 

Riding through a landslide

Riding through a landslide


 

But listen interested parties, it is after one in the morning and my brain is shutting down. I can’t write anymore and need to gotta get some sleep.
 

So until tomorrow, Bye, bye.
 
 
 

Post #7
Dateline: Tuesday, June 3, midnight.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Shangri-La Here We Are!
 

Before I share this trip report, I want to qualify right here and now, just as a frame of reference, what kind of riding experience I have; Over the last two decades I have ridden motorcycles across nearly every square inch of Southeast Asia + China. And I have to say that the ride to Shangri-La was, hands-down, the most spectacular, most enjoyable, and for sure the greatest ride in my entire motorcycling career. Period!
 

First, though, some of the day’s riding statistics before diving into the blog:
 

Present location: SHANGRI-LA!
Riding distance to Shangri-La from Jiliang: 270 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 7:15
Moving average: 38 kph.
Present elevation: 3235 meters
Highest elevation reached: 3688 meters
Total trip cumulative distance: 2042 kms.
Trip track shown on map below:
 

Our route to Shangri-La

Our route to Shangri-La


 

Tomorrow destination: Deqen (pronounced nothing like the spelling)
Approximate distance: 180 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online on his RideAsia.net rider forum. But this url changes daily. To see the photos from our ride to Shangri-La, you can view today’s photos at the following url:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-5.html#post29552
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Like I just said above, and which does bear repeating, the ride to Shangri-La was, hands-down, the most spectacular and most enjoyable motorcycle ride in my entire riding career. Period! The scenery, the road, the road condition, the weather, the dearth of other road users, glaciated mountain peaks scraping the clouds, Tibetan dwellings sprinkled throughout the meadows, all added up to the greatest seven hours and fifteen minutes of motorcycling in my life. And it is not only I who is of this opinion, as Phil and George share the same viewpoint and one would have to describe them as highly seasoned bikers.
(We are also being told that tomorrow’s ride is even better if that is at all humanly possible¬¬. So stay tuned.)
 

The road and road conditions were so terrific that we could have easily ridden them at a 70 kph pace, still with a sizable margin of error built in (and we were on the perfect bikes to do it on). 60 easy without any degree of difficulty. But we only managed a pace of 38 because the three of us were so mesmerized by what was unfolding in front of our eyes, that we had to slow way, way down to drink it all in. Every bend in the road opened up a new and wonderful vista and all we could keep saying to ourselves was “wow”.
 

Primary over everything else was the scenery. Our first target of the day was Tiger Leaping Gorge. After Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal and the Grand Canyon in The States, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the third-deepest gorge in the world. This is where the young Yangtze River, with its headwaters not far away in the Himalayas, comes roaring down in full force, eating its way through whatever mountain dares to impede it. And these are serious mountains; snow-covered peaks, glaciers running down their flanks like crooked, white fingers.
 

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge


 

The road we drove hugged a contour line around 100 meters above the roaring, boiling, boulder-strewn rapids below us. The tops of the canyon loomed, I would guess, 3000 meters above us
 

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a major Chinese tourist attraction, and for good reason. You arrive there a couple of kilometers after turning off the main trunk road we rode in on out of Lijiang. None of the numerous tourist busses, minvans, or private cars ventured past Tiger Leaping Gorge Visitor Center and View Point because the road continues on another couple of hundred kilometers with no way off it. But we continued and virtually had the road to ourselves for the next several hours.
 

There were few towns on this road as we followed the angry Yangtze northwards as the terrain is way too steep and rugged to support a population of any size. Maybe we passed three towns over the next hundred kilometers.
At the first village we came to, around 15 ks past TLG, we stopped in a small guesthouse restaurant and dined on the freshest vegetables you could ever eat, snow peas, pan-fried wild mushrooms, egg and tomato omelet, a vegetable stock soup, and diced chicken with more veggies.
 

The TLG road continued another 22 ks north-northeast. When the gorge petered out and the Yangtze veered away, the road struck northwest and we climbed over a mountain pass that topped out at 2820 meters. It was down and up another two mountain passes and this brought us up onto the Himalaya plateau proper. We knew we were now officially on the eastern slope of the Himalaya massif when we started seeing herds of yaks. Yaks! For the last third of the ride we hardly ever dipped below 3000 meters. At this height we seemed to be above the tree line and the dominant pine forests gave way to small bush-type pines. Most of the land was open meadow covered with grass.
 

The day’s weather was mostly overcast and we did hit some intermittent drizzles, nothing worse than that. This slickened the road and we slowed down even more. Temperatures stayed in the low 20’s C and dipped into the high teens when we topped 3000 meters. All I had on was a synthetic, long-sleeved shirt under my body armor. Over that I wore an unlined, waterproof jacket and I did not feel cold. I probably would have if we were riding faster, but this was not the case. I started feeling a little chilly when we reached the Himalaya Plateau, but at this point we were only around 20 ks outside of Shangri-La and I did not feel like donning anything else for so short a duration
 

In this part of China the dominant population group is ethnic Tibetans of various subgroups. The ladies wear traditional costumes but the men sport cheap western-style clothing. Many village houses were log cabin-style with a roof fashioned from terracotta roof tiles weighted down with large stones. Animal husbandry seemed to be the main occupation. Herds of yaks, goats, sheep, and cattle grazed on the rich plateau grass, chickens,and assorted breeds of pigs wandered through the villages.
 

It took tremendous amounts of willpower over the entire day not to stop the bike every five minutes to take photos of these stunning scenes, as we knew we had lots of riding to cover.
(I know, I know, enough with the superlatives, but I know of no other way of describing the ride to Shangri-La.
 

The road itself was nearly perfect the entire way: excellent surface, terrific engineering. A sport bike would eat this type of riding up, as long as one remembered that most mistakes would end in a long, long drop to the valley floor. If you did not die, you certainly would wish you would have.
 

GPS Track screen shot on road to Shangri-La

GPS Track screen shot on road to Shangri-La

 
The final twenty ks were over a long, straight, flat road. I could see Shangri-La on the horizon, ringed behind by snow-capped mountains on all sides. The houses over this final stretch were massive and square; all two or three stories tall, each story being at least 15-20 feet in height, all facing east with a high surrounding, stucco-walled courtyard in the front of each house with a massive entrance gate. The gateway doors were always intricately carved and decorated. On each side of the dwellings, four massive tree trunks stripped of their bark, each one propped on a thick concrete foundation formed the basic framework. I know this because many houses were under construction, and this was a hint we were entering a prosperous region.
 

We reached our hotel an hour before sunset and the temperature was 16 C. We quickly changed and showered and walked to Shangri-La’s Old Quarter and here we entered another world. The narrow streets were rough paving stones worn smooth over the centuries. Lining the streets were solid rows of shop houses built in the Tibetan style. Colorfully decked out Tibetan tribal ladies were numerous, not posing for photos but doing their daily chores.
 

Shangri-La Old Quarter

Shangri-La Old Quarter


 

All the locals were friendly and curious about us, not shy at all, and went out of their way to be welcoming. If they were cooking something they offered us a taste. If they were making some sort of handicraft they enjoyed having us take their photos.
That night we supped in a Tibetan restaurant on Yak steaks that were tender and tasty and excellent. Local barley beer washed it down, also quite tasty.
 

After such a long ride we went to bed early. I awoke at dawn and the streets were all wet but there was no rain, no sun either. It was 8 C. George and I went to the famous Gandan Sumtseling Monastary and below, in front of it, is a photo of yours truly.
 

RR in front of monastery

RR in front of monastery


 

Wednesday morning we intend to wake up early for what promises to be another excellent ride to Deqen and the holy Tibetan mountain, Kawa Karpo. I may have some spiritual connection with Kawa Karpo because a brass statue of the Tibetan holy deity that lives on this mountain is in my apartment. We shall see,
 

It will be chilly in the morning, and probably wet, and I plan on wearing an extra couple of layers.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.
 

 
 
 

Post #6
Dateline: Sunday, June 2, midnight.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Jiliang.
Today’s riding distance: 167 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 3:15
Moving average: 51 kph.
 

Tomorrow destination: SHANGRIL-LA!
Approximate distance: 220 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online. You can view them at the following url:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-2.html#post29354
 
 

Hello Interested Parties,
 

Oops, missed a day. So sorry. Just not enough time. The pace is non-stop, and as I am writing this I can see from my hotel window a fantastic scene of a massive group ethnic dance in the market square of Jiliang Old Town. Traditionally-costumed dancers are dancing in a large circle ringed by hundreds of onlookers flashing their cameras at them like electronic bubbles. The rhythmic, incessant pounding of tribal drums are vibrating my window panes. I really should be out there photographing and videoing the going-ons, but instead I feel an obligation to the followers of this blog to keep everyone updated on how this tour is going, which is going absolutely fabulous, by the way.
 

And since I missed yesterday, I’ll fill you in yesterday’s trip data right here.
 

Yesterday’s location: Dali
Driving distance: 345 kms.
Driving (moving) time: 4:43
Moving average: 73 kph
 

Below is the gps track, from the start, including the last two days:
 

GPS Track from Chiang Mai to Lijiang

GPS Track from Chiang Mai to Lijiang


 

To start off with, I’ll briefly fill you in on yesterday’s ride.
Being in the center of Kunming, it took us awhile to reach the highway especially because we had to take a circuitous route to reach it. This is because mcs are not really allowed on the highways and we had to ride a ways out of town to take a lesser-used entrance than the main city ones.
 

This was the first day on the tour I can say I did not enjoy the riding. I did not hate it, but it was basically your typical, boring interstate-type highway riding with not much in the way of challenging curves. If you like highway riding, then you would have liked this ride. It was a Harley-cruiser-type ride. Plenty of people enjoy this type of riding but it is not my cup of tea. When the terrain grew rugged and canyony over the last 20 ks pleasure started creeping in again but it was too short-lived.
 

The road was marked AH 14 (Asia Highway) and when all the Asian countries can get there shit together regarding regional travel, this will be one of the main roads in the Pan-Asia highway system. Our bearing was west-northwest. Our highpoint hit 2200 meters and for most of the day we never dipped below 1600 meters. Traffic was light and the road condition was mostly fine on this restricted-access, four lane divided highway. The weather was fine.
 

Dali is situated on the north side of a large lake. It is a city with a long history and the town retains its old-style Chinese charm with blocks full of two story connected buildings with a curved roof eaves and curved terracotta tiles that look like bamboo. We ate well that night once again on traditional Yunnan dishes. The most interesting dish was a plate of assorted tree funguses. At the table next to ours sat a group of six, old Chinese men dressed in peasant jackets and peasant hats who looked like they participated back in the old days on the Long March with Chairman Mao.
 

Today we got another late start, mainly because both George and I overslept. It was raining, though, and we probably would have waited it out anyway. When we were ready to leave it pretty much tapered off and rain was not a factor for the rest of the day. Didn’t see much sun, though.
We did not take the highway today and instead took the old road up over the mountains that sort of paralleled the highway. The road was a narrow, two-lane undivided road without a shoulder that ran through many small towns. It was infinitely more interesting than yesterday’s highway, but a large number of lorries lumbering up and down it to escape the highway tolls were hard to pass. And when we did pass, passing was dangerous because the road surface was hazardous, covered with grit and sand and potholes. And oncoming cars were also trying to pass whenever they had a chance. Tough to say which one I preferred; this, or yesterday’s droning highway that bored straight through all the intervening mountains.
 

Today we peaked at over 2,500 meters and spent almost the entire day rarely dropping below 2,000 meters.
 

But we did make several interesting stops which would have been impossible if we took the highway. We stopped in a traditional Chinese farming community and wandered around a bit, but hardly anyone was around as they were all out working in their fields.
After that we rode into a large valley that was one huge rice field. Thousands of workers were spread across it in small teams planting new rice shoots by hand.
 

We pulled into Lijiang mid-afternoon and checked into our hotel which is in a perfect location; right on the edge of the Old City. Lijiang is a UNESCO world heritage site and THE most popular tourist destination in China. They get three times the amount of visitors than the Forbidden City and this is amazing as Jiliang is really out there in the boondocks. What also is amazing is that only twenty years ago hardly any visitors ever made their way to Lijiang.
 

If you think of an ancient Chinese city like you would see in a historic kung-fu movie, this is Jiliang. Every single place you turn your head there’s a fantastic photo. The building architecture is outstanding. Charm permeates everything. It is filled with tourists, but so what: everyone is marveling at the same things. Every single person has a camera and is shooting away, mostly at their friends and families posing in front of some charming scene
 

No cars are allowed in the Old City, not that any could pass through their narrow streets developed when horses and carts were in common use.
 

There is one huge open square which has become the de-facto starting point for a walking tour. Two ancient, gigantic, wooden waterwheels are still spinning in the stream that runs through Jiliang. I promise to post photos of Lijiang and a bunch of other places we visited when we reach SHANGRI-LA. I should have some extra time to devote to this blog because we plan on taking a rest day there.
 

That’s it for this post. Have to get ready for an early start for SHANGRI-LA tomorrow. Shangri-La! I still can’t believe it.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye-bye.
 
 

Post #5
Dateline: Friday, May 31, 7 p.m.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province.
Yesterday’s riding distance: 276 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 4:14
Moving average: 65 kph.
 

Tomorrow destination: Dali
Approximate distance: 340 kms
Guesstimate driving time: 5.5 hours
 
 

Below is a screen shot of our total gps track to date.
Each color represents a different day’s ride.
Total kms ridden so far: 1,260
 

GPS track - Chiang Mai to Kunming

GPS track – Chiang Mai to Kunming


 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me. He is posting them online. You can view them at the following url:
http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-2.html#post29354
 

Now on to the blog:
 

Hello interested parties,
 

We’ll we made it to Kunming.
It’s another world here in this big city of 6.5 million people.
 
 

Kunming Street Corner

Kunming Street Corner


 

Kunming is the largest city in Yunnan Province and it will be our base for future tours to this region. Their major international airport has connections to most other Asian capitals and it is only a 1.5 hour flight from Chiang Mai.
 

Kunming is known as the City of Eternal Spring because their weather is always pleasant; never too hot and humid and never too cold. Outside right now as I type, it couldn’t be any nicer: 26c, sunny, zero humidity.
 

Yesterday’s ride can be broken down into 3 parts on the same great highway I loved so much yesterday.
 

Segment 1: We awoke to heavy rain and decided to wait it out. Around 11, when the precipitation seemed to be tapering off, we departed the hotel, but immediately caught up to the rain again. We rode for two hours in a rain of constantly changing intensity. We kept the speedo at around 80 kph and had no problems dealing with the weather or the road. The design of the F800 kept me surprisingly dry.
 

One hundred and fifty ks later, we turned off the highway for lunch and had to wait for Pae in the 4×4 and our back-up crew of ground handlers driving a beat-up Chinese-made pickup to catch up; we seem to be driving at nearly double their speed and it was a long wait. Pae is an excellent driver and was complaining he is falling asleep because he has to follow our slow-poke ground handlers.
By the time we finished another excellent meal the rain stopped and the sun was beaming brightly down upon us.
 

Segment #2: Our post-lunch ride was as wonderful as yesterday’s and I am relishing every kilometer of riding. We topped out at over 2000 meters at the highest point of the roadway. For the last half of the ride we didn’t descend below 1,600 meters. The terrain remained steep and craggy but another couple of dozen tunnels bored right through the impeding land masses and allowed the road to curve sweetly and gently on and on and on.
After exiting one tunnel a sign announced we were going down a 27 km descent.
 

Segment #3: An hour after lunch we entered the outskirts of another major Chinese city, Yuxi, pop. 2.5 million. (There are 147 Chinese cities with a population of over one million! 147!) South of Yuxi the traffic started getting heavier as one would expect of a city of that size, and it got even heavier in the section heading to Kunming (pop. 6.5 million). Nothing terrible, but we were constantly changing lanes to skirt the slow-moving lorries and the slower private cars that started appearing in large numbers.
 

One pleasant surprise is the driving skills of the Chinese. I have heard they drive terribly, (just like all the local drivers do in Southeast Asia, generally). But the lorry drivers here are courteous and handle their vehicles safely and with skill, and most of the private cars gave us no trouble at all.
 

Around 25 ks south of Kunming we had to wait for our back-up crew again because mcs are not allowed on the last piece of highway into Kunming so we had to follow their pickups through heavy local congestion to our hotel in the city center. Every time we came to stop next to a bus, which was frequently, and had to wait out the long red lights, all the passengers would cram over to our side to gawk at us: our F800’s all decked out for touring is an exotic sight. China seems to have more than their fair share of exotic cars, but I haven’t seen any large-capacity mcs yet.
 

All in all a nice day in the saddle.
 

Today is a rest day in Kunming. Phil and I did some sightseeing, and our favorite place was Green Lake Park. Great place for people watching and Phil and I became sightseeing objects for the locals in the park. Here is one photo:
 

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park


 

George Migliorelli, the third member of our riding group, will be flying in this evening. Tomorrow he will ride a 250cc Chinese-brand off-road bike and accompany our tour for ten days. At the end of 10 days George, wherever we are, will fly back to Kunming where he will catch his flight back to HK and one of the ground handlers will ride his mc back to Kunming.
 
 

TIME
On a mc tour the pace is generally hectic, so the subject of this blog is: TIME, or rather the lack of it, especially when you are trying to produce a a blog about a journey that is both entertaining and informative.
 

As I mentioned in post #1, this is my first attempt at writing a blog and I’ve never even read a blog from anyone else before either. I had no idea how time consuming it is to produce what you are reading at this moment.
 

On a mc tour, we usually arrive at our hotel late afternoon, maybe 4-5 p.m. Immediately we crack open a couple of ice cold beers from the cooler and try to catch our breaths after a fatiguing ride. It feels so wonderful to finally stop moving.
Then we have to unpack the mcs and the 4×4, register and check into our rooms, unpack our belongings, wash some clothes, clean my helmet face shield and riding glasses, shower, and change for dinner. This requires at least an hour with no moments wasted.
We also try to fit in a bit of sightseeing wherever our intended destination is, or, when in Thailand, go for a massage.
Next activity is finding a restaurant, get there, order, eat, return back to the hotel, and by this time it is in the neighborhood of 9 p.m. After riding a mc all day, one is generally bone-tired, and my bed is looking awfully inviting. Need a bit of time to unwind before Mr. Sandman visits. And for those who dabble with the local lasses or enjoy a massage, this seriously eats into your sleep time.
An early departure on a tour of this length is a necessity, and in order to have our asses on the bike, key in the ignition at 7:30, we need to arise at 6 and rapidly do the triple ‘s’ (shit, shower, shave), pack, eat, settle with the hotel, check out, and pack the mcs. Whew.
 

But wait! These days there is myriad of electronic equipment to deal with, and new must-have gizmos become available weekly.
 

When I get into my hotel room, before I even jump into a shower, I have to start to recharge all my stuff, and many times there is only a single electrical outlet to handle it all! Two if I am lucky. So I have a charging queue going nearly all the time. And all the devices’ batteries require different charging durations.
 

Here is a list of what needs to be charged in my kit:
 

My helmet – it has a blue tooth communication system.
 

Go Pro VDO cameras – I use two, with battery packs, and each one eats two batteries in the morning and two in the afternoon. That often makes 8 batteries that need charging at night. I do have spare batteries and can skip a day of charging if needed.
Each GoPro also uses up a 32 gb memory card in the a.m. and one in the p.m., and these memory cards need to be downloaded to my computer and then erased. That’s 4 memory cards per day. I do have spares and can skip a day if needed, but sooner rather than later I need to go through the above drill.
 

My Canon Eos digital camera battery needs to be recharged daily and memory card downloaded
 

Cell phone needs to be recharged daily and photos downloaded as well.
 

I use 3 gps devices and every day each gps device needs to be recharged. My Zumo 660 goes through three batteries per day and they recharge extremely slow.
And every day I need to download the saved gps tracks and waypoints to the map program in my computer.
Yes, I know I do not have to do all this downloading daily, but I have to play it safe because if any one of the devices fails I have lost a ton of precious and irreplaceable date.
Then when I do download the tracks and waypoints I have to rename them, give them a meaningful title.
 

Then there’s my laptop – the brains behind everything. This has to be recharged daily and to write this blog I am using the following programs: Word, Map Source, Photoshop, Lightroom, Chrome, WordPress, and VideoPress.
 

In addition to doing all the above, and write the blog, and process, resize, and crop photos, and saving them for the web, I have to catch up on my emails, answer all incoming queries about my tours, do banking, and run a business from a remote location.
 

Then finally I MUST check out how the Yankees are doing, look at the latest box scores, and keep abreast of the NBA playoffs.
 

I often I have to waste 10 to 15 precious minutes just trying to hook up to the internet with the wifi and/or LAN connections, and quite frequently I have to deal with shoddy, intermittant internet connections on top of everything.
 

Try fitting in all the above in single day. It ain’t easy, believe me. No wonder I sleep for two solid days when I return home after a tour. Takes out some of the fun of motorcycle touring, doesn’t it?
 

I swear on a stack of bibles I will never buy another electronic device again, no matter what it does, unless it can take the place of at least three of the current devices I am using.
 

So readers, if I miss a day or two of blogging, I beg your forgiveness. It’s not that I am not trying or being lazy. There just ain’t enough hours in my days.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.
 
 

 

Dateline: Wednesday, May 29, 11 p.m. Post #3
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Mojiang, Yunnan Province, China.
Today’s distance: 380 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 4:21
Moving average: 87 kph.
 

Tomorrow destination: Kunming
Approximate distance: 300 kms.?
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours?
 

If you are wondering why I am not sure about the distances and driving time for tomorrow, it all depends if the police allow our mcs on the highways or if they force us to take local roads. So far so good and it was highway all the way today.
For those of you who noticed that today’s destination is not the same place I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is because we got off to a late start.
 

Phil Gibbins is taking a ton of photos, way more than me, and he is posting them online. You can view them at the following url:

http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/china-ride-reports/3780-recky-tour-chiang-mai-tibet-border-kawa-karpo-6-740-meters-22-113-a-2.html#post29354
 

Now for the real post………………
 

Hello interested parties.
 

To say I’m having a great time is an understatement.
To say that the roads and the riding are fantastic is an even bigger understatement.
To say that I am not loving every minute I’m in the saddle of the F800GS would be the height of ludicrousness.
 

Yesterday was great but somehow today was even better. We got off to a late start (around 11:30) because we had to go to a very crowded police station in Mengla to have a couple of cops glance at our vehicles and thump their all important red stamps onto a dozen more documents. Our paperwork collection is now around 3 inches thick.
The police took their sweet time with us but finally let us depart.
 

The morning road was a two-lane dual carriage way that wended its way through the foothills of the Himalaya mountain range. The road was in excellent condition and traffic was very light.
 

Unlike Thailand, where the Thais build their roads up and down each and every ridge in a never-ending series of switchbacks (which certainly is a lot of fun on a bike and I am not complaining), the Chinese, on the other hand, just bore a big hole through the interfering landmass. Today we drove through I would guess around 40 tunnels. The shortest ones were a couple of hundred meters in length, but the longest was 3.2 kms. It was tricky driving through them because, except for the real long ones, they were not lit, and with the headlights of oncoming traffic blasting our eyes, it was extremely difficult visibility. All of the tunnels were dead straight, but suddenly one we entered had a curve in it that I was not ready for and it really spooked me because I was not sure how to handle it, how tight it was, nor did I know which way it was curving or where to look. After this the tunnels with curves became more frequent but Phil and myself now knew how to deal with them.
 
Even with all the tunnels, the road was extremely curvaceous, and consisted of nice, high-speed curves, nothing vicious or nasty. A few sections of roadway, when we hit a long valley, were dead straight and dead flat, and I was able to cruise for minutes at a time at 160 kph +.
In general we cruised at 120-125 kph for most of the ride. This was a sweet spot for the Beemers, and at that speed the tach pointed to 5000 rpm; the mcs purred in ecstasy.
 

Looking at my gps track we climbed up and over nine mountain ranges and topped out at 1,550 meters above sea level. Most of the ride we stayed above 1000 meters. Temperature was perfect for man and machine. Sky was overcast but not a drop of rain.
 

Around 1:30 we stopped for an excellent lunch in a roadside town. I have photos and descriptions of all the dishes and will fit them into a later post. And while we are on the subject of food, dinner was also exceptional. Having lived in Hong Kong for 5 years with extensive travels inside China (but not Yunnan), most of the dishes and flavors I encountered today were new to me.
 

Soon after lunch we reached a junction on AH3 (Asia Highway 3), It turned into a 4-lane divided dual carriageway with exits and entrances spaced around 15 km apart. The road engineering was perfect and probably as well built, smooth, and perfectly maintained as any road in any Western country. There were no cracks, bumps, or potholes, nothing at all that could throw off the handling of our bikes. I am in awe of how great these roads are. Thailand’s roads are light years behind. A Porsche or Ferrari could eat these roads up. But will these type of roads continue for the remained of the trip? For how long?
We shall see.
 

If there are any twins in your life, they probably know all about where we are staying tonight, Mojiang, because every year this city hosts the world’s largest convention of twins. Mojiang got into this game because this region of China, for some inexplicable reason, has the highest percentage of multiple births on earth. Our hotel lobby is festooned with photos of twins in this festival. I think it is in April and would probably be a lot of fun, twin or not.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.
 
 
 

 

Dateline: Tuesday, May 28, 10:30 p.m. – Blog #3
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present location: Mengla, Yunnan Province, China.
Today’s distance: 291 kms.
Driving (moving) time): 3:47
Moving average: 59 kph.
 

Tomorrow destination: Lancang
Approximate distance: 200 kms.
Guesstimate driving time: 6 hours?
 

Hello interested parties.
 

We’re inside China!
 

Reed crossing into China

Reed crossing into China

Problem is I have so much to tell but so little time to do it in. This blog will have to be brief because I am beginning it at 10:30 p.m., am exhausted, have to try to fit in some sleep, plus I write slowly.
 

Today’s ride from the Lao/Thai border to the Chinese/Lao border was one of those magical, wonderful days that come along way too seldom in one’s life. This was one of the best motorcycle roads I have ever ridden in Asia, and I’ve ridden just about all of them.
With this being the beginning of the rainy season, the weather was perfect; sunny blue skies with not a dark cloud to be seen, and not too hot either because a lot of this ride was at altitude. Traffic was ridiculously light.
 

The road to Boten is now entirely sealed and seemed to be newly sealed at that, as smooth as any road you’ll ever ride. In the early days of mc’ing in Laos, today’s ride would have taken a full two days of pounding, back-breaking, treacherous, dust-covered off-road riding. But today on the Beemers, Phil and I blasted it in under three hours, all the while with the widest of smiles plastered across our mugs.
I can’t imagine a better mc for this road. I’m curious to see if this statement holds up over the duration of the tour – I doubt it, though, and I am sure that at some point I will curse my existence for bringing the Beemers.
I am sort of new to this bike. But after riding 250cc trailbikes for so many years, the F800GS’s have tons of power all across the rpm range with little vibration and it handled the 6 mountain passes and the countess curves magestically. I even scraped my toes a couple of times despite its lofty ground clearance. It is a comfortable bike to be spending many hours on. If I had to describe this mc in two words, they would be “smooth & gentlemanly.” This is a gentleman’s bike.
Only 2 complaints: I don’t like the horn position and I don’t like the turn switch position or the turn switch cancel position.
 

It took two hours to cross the border into China, actually three because there is a one hour time difference with Laos. With these Asian border crossings, paperwork is a bitch. It didn’t matter that we had scores of rubber-stamped documents from a dozen different Chinese government departments, the customs inspector informed us we were missing one esoteric piece of paper and tried his hardest to send us back into Laos. It looked like the 11th-hour squeeze was on. But our border agent cleverly called his head office and had them fax the missing document and all was good with the rubber-stampers.
In the two hours at the border, not one person in uniform cracked a smile.
 

We ate dinner tonight at a local eatery, down a side street, down another side street, and then a left into an unmarked alley. We had a spicy tom yum bamboo shoot soup, two plates of a wild vegetables picked from the forest, minced beef with basil and garlic, and pork leg smoked then steamed. Everything was delicious and super-fresh. I hope this is a portent for meals to come.
 

Dinner in Mengla

Dinner in Mengla


 

Wednesday morning we have to go to the local police station so they can inspect our bikes and 4×4. Inspection will be: turn on lights, high beams and low, check turn signals, toot horn, check brake lights, thank you very much, that will be $300 dollars, please. If we pass, the cops will grant us temporary number plates and temporary driving licenses – how sweet of them. No such things goes on in any other country that I know of, and when Chinese vehicles drive into Laos and Thailand, they have no such rigmarole to deal with.
 

Our next goal is to reach Kunming by Thursday where we will have a rest day and a chance to catch our breath. George Migliorelli, the 3rd member of this tour, will fly into Kunming on Friday, and Saturday we’ll start heading north to the Tibetan border.
 

Until tomorrow, Bye bye.

Dateline: Tuesday, May 28 – Blog #2.

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.

Present Location: Huay Xai, Laos – the border crossing town opposite Chiang Khong, Thailand. To reach Huay Xai we had to take a ferry across the Mekong River.

Today’s Destination: Boten, China, which is the border crossing town from Laos on into Yunnan Province, China.

Yesterday’s ride from Chiang Mai went well.
Distance was about 300 km. and it took 4.5 hours.
We skirted storms all the way – they were to the north and to the west. Curtains of rain were visible in many places. Black clouds blocked the sun. Many times the road was puddle-covered and we just missed rain by minutes. Several times we rode through sections of light drizzles that were more refreshing than annoying.
It was hot and I rode in my body armor with nothing on top.
Temperature hovered in the low 30’s Celsius.

We arrived in Chiang Kong for the customs and immigration drill at 1:30. Paper work took around 2 hours and the 1 km ferry ride across the Mekong took another 2 hours. This was because there’s a lot of truck traffic between Thailand and Laos and archaic barges powered by equally-archaic ferries take a very long time to load and unload a never-ending fleet of 18-wheelers.
We were number 4 in the ferry queue and sat treading water in the middle of the Mekong until it was our turn to unload.
On our ferry were 10 fully-loaded 18-wheelers filled with fruit. I was truly concerned that with all that weight our barge would sink but further figured the ferry operators knew what they were doing. The lorry’s ultimate destination is exactly where we are heading today, Botan, Laos, where their will transfer their cargo onto Chinese trucks.

In another few months a bridge will be completed 7 kms. south of Chiang Kong and will vastly speed up the border crossing process. I envision the whole exercise to take no more than one hour.

Strange Pre-Tour Doings

I’m sure everyone has heard the term “the mysterious East” and, boy, am I ever becoming a firm believer in this.

This above statement is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool atheist and probably one of the least spiritual persons in the world. But mysterious and unexplained things (all positive by the way) are currently flowing through my personal and my business life. Undercurrents of karma, fate, and divine interferences seem to be following me and there is just no rational explanation for any of it. I’m just an innocent bystander watching it all unfold around me.

There are two more persons on this tour that I did not mention in yesterday’s blog: my assistant and right-hand man, Pae, and his wife Oy. Pae will drive the 4×4 support vehicle and Oy is his passenger and simply coming along for the ride. She is a partial invalid and doesn’t get around much and she is very excited about coming on this tour.

Some of you receiving this blog know Pae from my tours and are well aware of his gentle character and serious but joyful demeanor. However, both Pae and Oy have special talents which they do not care to publicize. When Pae is not helping me on my tours, he is a healer. And Oy can see into the future. When Oy reads a palm she says it is like watching a video of that person’s life unfold.
I cannot testify as to Pae’s skills because I have never been sick. But several times in the past, Oy has asked to read my palm and she sees and knows things that have happened to me and will happen to me that there is just no way she can be aware of. Scary, no?
Before every tour, Pae and Oy make offerings to their God, who they call their Master, to ask him to grant protection to all participants, and so far he has protected himself, myself and all of our participants admirably, except for a couple of fractured ankles last touring season. But hey, this is motorcycling and shit happens no matter how careful one is.

But let’s get back to this Shangri-La tour. As mentioned in blog #1, our ultimate riding goal is to reach Mt Kawa Karpo, which is the home to one of the Tibetans mightiest Gods, Shri Chakrasamvara, who is the wife of Shiva, one of the three main Gods in Hinduism.
Doing research on this deity, I found a likeness of her on a tapestry displayed on the internet. This is that image:

At this point I need to digress. Over the years I have picked up a few antiques during my travels. My favorite purchase is a bronze, 18″ high statue of a fierce women warrior with a multitude of heads and wearing garlands of skulls as a sash. Macabre, but it caught my eye because of its bodacious uniqueness. I had never seen anything like it before, or since, and it sits in a prominent place in my apartment.
Here is a photo of my statue:

I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the tapestry I saw on the internet is the same God as the statue that sits in my apartment.
There are millions upon millions of Gods in the Hindu religion, so it is at least a one-in-a-million chance that the God that resides on Kawa Karpo is the same as my statue. And now I am undertaking a long journey to this very Gods home. Coincidence? Maybe? Probably? But weird. So weird.

Something impelled me to buy this statue instead of all the other antiques in that shop.

And something impelled me to take a motorcycle trip to Tibet to the base of a holy mountain.

When I showed this to Pae, he told me this is not a coincidence, that this God is calling me to her and that something awaits me there.

Stay tuned. Regard, Reed

 

Dateline:Dateline: Tuesday, May 28 – Blog #2.
 

Welcome to the “Shangri-La Here We Come” Blog.
 

Present Location: Huay Xai, Laos – the border crossing town opposite Chiang Khong, Thailand. To reach Huay Xai we had to take a ferry across the Mekong River.
 

Today’s Destination: Boten, China, which is the border crossing town from Laos on into Yunnan Province, China.
 

Yesterday’s ride from Chiang Mai went well.
Distance was about 300 km. and it took 4.5 hours.
We skirted storms all the way – they were to the north and to the west. Curtains of rain were visible in many places. Black clouds blocked the sun. Many times the road was puddle-covered and we just missed rain by minutes. Several times we rode through sections of light drizzles that were more refreshing than annoying.
It was hot and I rode in my body armor with nothing on top.
Temperature hovered in the low 30’s Celsius.
 

We arrived in Chiang Kong for the customs and immigration drill at 1:30. Paper work took around 2 hours and the 1 km ferry ride across the Mekong took another 2 hours. This was because there’s a lot of truck traffic between Thailand and Laos and archaic barges powered by equally-archaic ferries take a very long time to load and unload a never-ending fleet of 18-wheelers.
We were number 4 in the ferry queue and sat treading water in the middle of the Mekong until it was our turn to unload.
On our ferry were 10 fully-loaded 18-wheelers filled with fruit. I was truly concerned that with all that weight our barge would sink but further figured the ferry operators knew what they were doing. The lorry’s ultimate destination is exactly where we are heading today, Botan, Laos, where their will transfer their cargo onto Chinese trucks.
 

In another few months a bridge will be completed 7 kms. south of Chiang Kong and will vastly speed up the border crossing process. I envision the whole exercise to take no more than one hour.
 

Strange Pre-Tour Doings
 

I’m sure everyone has heard the term “the mysterious East” and, boy, am I ever becoming a firm believer in this.
 

This above statement is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool atheist and probably one of the least spiritual persons in the world. But mysterious and unexplained things (all positive by the way) are currently flowing through my personal and my business life. Undercurrents of karma, fate, and divine interferences seem to be following me and there is just no rational explanation for any of it. I’m just an innocent bystander watching it all unfold around me.
 

There are two more persons on this tour that I did not mention in yesterday’s blog: my assistant and right-hand man, Pae, and his wife Oy. Pae will drive the 4×4 support vehicle and Oy is his passenger and simply coming along for the ride. She is a partial invalid and doesn’t get around much and she is very excited about coming on this tour.
 

Some of you receiving this blog know Pae from my tours and are well aware of his gentle character and serious but joyful demeanor. However, both Pae and Oy have special talents which they do not care to publicize. When Pae is not helping me on my tours, he is a healer. And Oy can see into the future. When Oy reads a palm she says it is like watching a video of that person’s life unfold.
I cannot testify as to Pae’s skills because I have never been sick. But several times in the past, Oy has asked to read my palm and she sees and knows things that have happened to me and will happen to me that there is just no way she can be aware of. Scary, no?
Before every tour, Pae and Oy make offerings to their God, who they call their Master, to ask him to grant protection to all participants, and so far he has protected himself, myself and all of our participants admirably, except for a couple of fractured ankles last touring season. But hey, this is motorcycling and shit happens no matter how careful one is.
 

But let’s get back to this Shangri-La tour. As mentioned in blog #1, our ultimate riding goal is to reach Mt Kawa Karpo, which is the home to one of the Tibetans mightiest Gods, Shri Chakrasamvara, who is the wife of Shiva, one of the three main Gods in Hinduism.
Doing research on this deity, I found a likeness of her on a tapestry displayed on the internet. This is that image:
 

Tapestry_ShriChakrasamvara

Tapestry_ShriChakrasamvara


 

At this point I need to digress. Over the years I have picked up a few antiques during my travels. My favorite purchase is a bronze, 18″ high statue of a fierce women warrior with a multitude of heads and wearing garlands of skulls as a sash. Macabre, but it caught my eye because of its bodacious uniqueness. I had never seen anything like it before, or since, and it sits in a prominent place in my apartment.
Here is a photo of my statue:
 

Statue_ShriChakrasamvara

Statue_ShriChakrasamvara


 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the tapestry I saw on the internet is the same God as the statue that sits in my apartment.
There are millions upon millions of Gods in the Hindu religion, so it is at least a one-in-a-million chance that the God that resides on Kawa Karpo is the same as my statue. And now I am undertaking a long journey to this very Gods home. Coincidence? Maybe? Probably? But weird. So weird.
 

Something impelled me to buy this statue instead of all the other antiques in that shop.
 

And something impelled me to take a motorcycle trip to Tibet to the base of a holy mountain.
 

When I showed this to Pae, he told me this is not a coincidence, that this God is calling me to her and that something awaits me there.
 

Stay tuned. Regard, Reed
 
 

Sunday, May 26, 2012
 

Hello. My name is Reed Resnikoff and I am the owner/operator of ASIAN MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES, a motorcycle touring company based in the beautiful northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.
 

On Monday, May 27, I and Phil Gibbins, an avid motorcyclist also based in Chiang Mai and the creator of the motorcycle website www.rideasia.net, are going on a rather unique motorcycle tour that will take us all the way up to the Sino-Tibetan border and to a town called Shangri-La.
 

We will ride two BMW F800 GS’s from Chiang Mai through northern Laos on into Yunnan Province, China. Waiting for us when we arrive in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, will be the third motorcyclist on this trip, George Migliorelli, a round-the-world biker presently liv

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