If not for this man, this tour would have unfolded vastly different.
There was a ton of great riding, great scenery like this, and fantastic food at every meal.
And fabulous encounters with the warm and friendly people of Yunnan Province.
So sit back and relax and enjoy the slideshow.
First let's meet the participants...
Our official group shot with the official tour banner.
This photo was taken at White Horse Pass, the highest point on the tour.
This is me in the middle, Reed Resnikoff, owner-operator of ASIAN MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURES.
I rode a brand-new KTM 990 Adventure and I bonded with it well by the end of the tour.
Here I am hanging out with the guys at the local tea shop.
Here's Robert Cheong from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, pointing to the 4292 meter marker at White Horse Pass, the highest point on the tour.
Robert's a recently retired owner of a major construction company.
He now has a lot of time to ride his ass off on his lavishly-equipped BMW 1200 GS.
John Scott-Pearce from London, Ontario.
John owns several bars and nightspots in Ontario. John told everyone he was running for mayor of his city but I don't think anyone really believed him.
John rode a BMW F800GS and appears to have something in his ear.
David Greenslade learning to pick tea leaves.
David is an investment advisor and wealth manager from New Zealand and is not actually contemplating a career change.
David rode another BMW F800GS with his wife Susan riding pillion. David is also part owner of a motorcycle tour company in Bolivia.
Susan Greenslade, the better half of David.
Being the only female on the tour, she had to put up with the the juvinile antics of the boys as well as their bathroom humor.
And speaking about bathrooms, Susan deserves a gold star for gallantly dealing with the infamous Chinese latrines with nary a complaint.
Oddvar Rykke, a Norwegian sea captain based in Pattaya, Thailand.
Here he is with his new squeeze. No one ever called Oddvar tall so you can imagine the height of his girlfriend, who also happens to be standing on a step.
Oddvare rode a 250-cc Honda XR and stayed right with the big mcs the entire trip, proving it is not the bike, it's the rider.
Axel Halbgebaur is an Austrian living in Thailand, with residences in several other places around the world.
Axel is a commercial pilot, a restauranteur, and also owns a fashion lighting business based out of Bali.
A man of many hats, wearing his favorite black one in this shot, he's sitting next to his BMW 1200GS recently purchased from the following man..........
Thomas Mehlhorn, a German, who owns property in both Koh Samui and Hua Hin, Thailand.
Thomas loves Thailand so much he hadn't left Thai soil for 7 years until this trip. His departure card in his passport was so old the immigration officials wanted to save it as an antique.
Thomas rode a Kawasaki Versys 650, the only road bike on the tour. He ate up the Chinese highways which were perfect for his mc.
Phil Gibbins is an Englishman living in Chiang Mai. Phil owns a restaurant and guesthouse in the center of Chiang Mai, makes and sells maps that specialize in the Golden Triangle's extensive network of dirt trails, and owns and moderates the mc website RideAsia.net.He is an avid off-road rider and decided to take his Honda 250 cc XR to see how it would handle the roads; It handled them fine.
Khun Pae, my most excellent assistant.
Pae drove the support vehicle, an expedition-equipped, turbocharged Toyota Vigo, and kept right behind the speedy motorcycles at all times.
Pae's true calling would be the wheelman for a bank hold-up gang.
Jah, our Yunnan ground handler. Never without a smile on his face. Never does the word "no" escape his lips.
Always accomodating. Ever helpful. Friendly and jovial, and extremely knowedgable.
The Shangri-La tour would not be the same without him. Thank you, Jah.
After the riding, the food on the Shangri-La motorcycle tour was the 2nd highlight.
Every meal was a feast and we searched out and dined on all the local specialties of each region.
As you can see, at this dinner table there wasn't room for even a single dish more.
A more appropriate name for this tour would be the Shangri-La - Gourmet Motorcycle tour.
The beer was always ice cold and eminently quaffable.
Following are a couple more food shots to whet your appetites..........
Our 2nd most favorite drink: Yak butter tea
Even a simple dish like noodle soup was other-worldly in Yunnan.
Our hotels varied a great deal on this tour, depending on the lodging choices in each destination we visited.
We often stayed in modern Western-style hotels like this one and the one in the next 2 slides.
But we also stayed in several lodgings dripping with local charm, like the one shown in the 3 slides after that.
Rooms were always clean and comfortable with either WiFi or LAN internet connections.
Our Shangri-La hotel.
Our Shaxi hotel.
This lodging in Shaxi was in a building 600 years old.
The following series of slides will highlight some of the places we visited, in no particular order.
This first slide is from Shuanglang, on the eastern shore of Erhai Lake.
Green Lake Park in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province.
Dali. An important historic city going back thousands of years.
A favorite stop on the tour: Shaxi.
Jianshui's city gate.
Mad Tibetan warrior, Reed Resnikoff, on guard duty in front of Gandan Sumtseling Monastery in Shangri-La.
An interesting character caught walking around the streets of Shangri-La. And no, it wasn't Halloween.
The main intersection in Shangri-La.
Diqen pagodas. Kawakarpo is in the background. It is the highest unclimbed mountain left on earth, now forever off-limits because it is a holy mountain in the Tibetian culture and home to one of their Gods.
Kawakarpo in all its glory. Seldon seen cloud-free. Someone on the tour found this photo on the internet.
Final shot of Kawakarpo.
Tiger Leaping Gorge. A UNESCO World Heritage site and probably the most photographed road on the tour.
Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. Unfortunately we hit this area just after the rice harvest. Still outrageously colorful.
Laos-Yunnan, China border crossing.
Lijaing street scene. In China brides wear a red wedding dress.
Erhai lake harbor.
Twin Dragon Bridge, outside Jianshui.
The big pagoda in the center of Jinhong.
Since this slideshow is basically about a motorcycle tour, the next couple of dozen photos capture the essence of motorcycle riding in Yunnan, China.
We'll get back to the scenics a bit later on.
Here we are crossing from Thailand into Laos on a decrepit ferry.
One should be aware of the more hazardous aspects of a motorcycle tour in Yunnan before participating.
The most frequent hazard on this tour are the tunnels - there are more than 100 of them. The Chinese road engineers, instead of climbing up and down a a mountain face in a series of switchbacks, bore through the mountain instead. This saves a hell of a lot of travel time between destinations. But the tunnels are treacherous. Some are badly lit or not lit at all, and others are not straight but start out with a sharp curve at the point where your eyes have not yet adjusted to the gloom. Several tunnels are over 4 kms. long.
One of the better-lit tunnels.
We passed dozen of tunnels under construction. This one will link up the Mekong River valley with the Salween River valley and undoubtedly open up more great riding.
Another hazardous aspect of the Shangri-La motorcycle tour are landslide areas. There are dozens of places where landslides cover entire sections of roadway, essentially turning them into unsealed roads. There are so many places where the road is damaged that road crews will never catch up clearing them all. This is one reason why a dual-purpose motorcycle is the best choice for this tour.
When riding you have to keep alert for fallen rocks on the road.
In an agriculture-based region there are lots of animals on the road.
Up on the Himalaya plateau yaks become common. And none of us were sure if they were docile or agressive so we always gave them a wide berth.
Many commercial vehicles expelled noxious exhaust fumes. Sometimes the clouds were as thick and black as a military smoke screen and impossible to see through, making it extremely hazardous to pass. And the last thing you want to be doing is driving in their cloud.
China is a country of all new drivers. 5 years ago hardly anyone had a drivers license. Now it seems like everyone does. But they are not yet experieinced enough to be in full control of their vehicles. Add this to the agressive nature of their personalities when they get behind the wheel of a car and this is a recipe for disaster.
We saw many instances like this one where the driver seemingly just drove off the roadway.
This driver had trouble exiting the petrol station.
Dirt + sand + grit + rain make for slippery conditions.
Marker commemorating the Tea-Horse Road.
One of the themes of this tour is Tea. Tea originated in the southwestern Yunnan and spread throughout China, then Tibet, then the rest of the world. Tea is the most consumed liquid in the world after water. And the best tea still comes from Yunnan.
China first trading partner for tea was Tibet. And they traded their tea for Tibetan horses along a route that came to be known as the Tea-Horse Road. Our tour, for a great deal of its length, followed this ancient caravan route.
Statue of a Tea-Horse Road trader in Shaxi, one of the major caravan stops.
Southwest Yunnan is covered with tea estates.
Another theme of this tour was the rice harvest. Wherever we rode, either the rice was on the verge of ripeness, or currently being harvested, or it had just been reaped.
The following photos are of the rice harvest.
Not only was rice being harvested, but also corn. Outrageously colorful, the locals were drying it in various manners.
One of the great joys of traveling is meeting and interacting with the locals, seeing how they live, work, relax, and play. The next photo series are of the people of Yunnan.
No captions needed.
This was an interesting encounter.
We came across a large group of men on the side of the road working on a freshly-cut tree, everyone busy making something.
A coffin. For their friend. I thought, 'How nice! What better thing can your life-long friends do for your funeral than make you custom-made coffin crafted with love!'
Time to display some more photos of the more photogenic stops stops on the tour.
Shaxi. Bridge detail.
Shangri-La antique store.
Shangri-La. Decorative yak skulls and air-dried yak meat.
Shangri-La. Decorative yak tails.
Shangri-La yak restaurant.
Gandan Sumtseling Monastery.
Ganadan Sumtseling Monastery detail.
Gandan Sumtseling Monastery.
Gandan Sumtseling Monastery.
Gandan Sumtseling Monastery.
Duanshan village print shop.
Duanshan village gate.
Lijiang. A UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lijiang food stall.
Lijiang yak meat store.
Lijiang tea shop.
Lijiang. Instructions to the restaurant staff.
The following group of slides show various scenes and encounters experieinced by the participants on the Shangri-La Motorcycle Tour.
The ubiquitous Chinese tractor in just one of its infinite variations.
Cushion stool being woven from freshly-cut rice stalks.
Wall panel painting.
Ancient weapon display.
Rare pinnacle karst.
Door panel carvings.
A few more photos of the Shangri-La tour participants.
Oddvar with his favorite brew relaxing on a chair made from a tree root.
Even on a rest day, the urge for 2-wheel travel is strong.
Axel getting a local haircut with an audience of school kids.
Oddvar and Reed eating breakfast at a street stall.
Their specialty was this cornmeal pancake.
And now for more food shots..................
Your typical street food stall kitchen.
Breakfast food steaming away in Shangri-La.
The group digging into a Tibetian hotpot feast.
There were all kinds of surprises boiling away in the hotpot.
Yak cheese, deep-fried.
Lamb kebobs with a hand-cranked blower.
Fried scallion dumplings.
Pheasant doesn't get any fresher than this.
Half a spit-roasted pig.
Ducks ready for the roaster.
Ducks in the roaster.
Duck on the plate.
Not sure what animal this is, but I'm positive this restaurant will transform it into something delicious.
Breaded and fried pork in broth.
Typical table fare.
Typical table fare; another night.
Thanks for peeking in on the Shangri-La Motorcycle Tour Slide Show.
Only 3 more slides....
Not sure how to categorize this photo but it needed to be included.
And thanks again, Chairman Mao, for making this Shangri-La Motorcycle Tour possible.