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Thursday, 15 January 2015

YUNNAN CHINA ADV RIDE: DAY 6 - 8

6th Dec 2014: LIJIANG – QIAOTOU – SHANGRI LA (170km)


Today's ride is beautiful and memorable. Why? Bcos its my birthday. LOL...It might be weird to some, but FYI, I always celebrate my bday alone in a foreign land. So, do not expect birthday cake or gifts. Pity me? Dont be. Its my own choice. My friend Zuraidah Jamari told me that I am not alone this time bcos I'm now in China. 1.45 billion of its people are with me. HAHAHA, thats hilarious... 



I start early today as I plan to drop by at Tiger Leaping Gorge. It was not so tricky to exit Lijiang and I soon rode on S308. The road was narrow, winding and with lots of lorries. As usual, the lorries will wet the road. I really hate this as my off road tires didnt perform well on wet paved road. It easily slides especially when I brake. In order to avoid the wet road, I had to overtake the lorries, one after another, to enable me to be the frontest most. I climbed higher and my fingertips felt very cold, as I had only one layer of thin gloves on.

I love the trees

After riding for almost one hour, I turned right to G214. I had hoped that the road will be good, but it wasnt so. There were few times that I was confused whether or not I’m on the correct road. I just moved on, hoping that its the correct one, and thank god it is. The colours of autumn was still significant here.


At one time, the road lead me to an abandon construction site. I had to ride on sandy track, and my mind started to question if I had missed a junction. There was no one for me to ask for direction. I looked at the sun, and I’m sure that this is the correct road. I continued on and not very far later, the off road met a newly built road. I cant picture how happy I was to see the good paved road. I sped as fast as I can. However, the happiness didnt last very long as about 5kms ahead, there was a long traffic jam. I rode slowly until the front, only to realize that there was construction on a bridge. I had to wait for a while until the traffic police permitted me and the rest to cross.

The sign reads "Welcome to Tiger Leaping Gorge"...rasanya lah :)
Theres a construction on the bridge.

I turned right, heading to Qiaotou, the Tiger Leaping Gorge town. The road here was paved, but scratched, which was not so bike-friendly as the tires will ‘dance’ according to the scratch lines. When riding on this kind of road, you had to hold the handles firmly to keep its balance bcos the scratch lines can affect yr manuevering. Sometimes the lines were pretty deep and if a newbie like me is not careful enough, or ride on this kind of road too fast, I can fall due to failure in controlling the bike.


I reached Qiaotou soon after and started to look for signs to Tiger Leaping Gorge. There was no sign I could find, so I turned back and searched again. I saw one very small steep road at a junction. Could this be the one? I asked locals, but it was useless. I was hesitating, should I try this road or not? I’m in a hurry. Its going to be a waste of time if its not the correct one. In the end, I made up my mind to move on. (I found out later from Han TG & Griffin that it was actually the correct road to TLG).

The view to Shangri La was beautiful. There was a river on my right hand side, and a hill on my left. The sky was so very blue. My lips never fail to praise Allah for His beautiful creations.





I passed few tunnels, but this time it was lighted. I also saw Jade Dragon Snow Mountain very clearly from here.


Jade Dragon Snow Mountain


The climb soon began, but it was not difficult as the road was big enough and theres not so many traffic. However I had to be really careful with the express bus or tourist coach which drove like crazy. I stopped at a view point which offered nice view.

Tenguk apa tuuu kak?
Tenguk ni haa....cantik kan?


Its getting colder and colder  as I climbed higher to Shangri La which was situated at the altitude of 3280m. The view started to change. I could see goats in the mountains and horses on the drying field.









I finally reached Shangri La. I was sooo happy to see the town’s land mark. Shangri La is every biker’s dream.  To reach Shangri La on a motorbike is a joy and pride. Especially when reaching here on one’s birthday. The success of getting here, solo on a motorbike, is the greatest gift that I could ever get. What more can I ask? I was almost into tears of happiness. Thank you Allah for granting me another year and for letting me be here. You had taken some from me, but You had given me more, and blessed my life with rainbow and grey colours as well. Life is fair and I should be grateful.



In Shangri La, I wished myself a very Happy Birthday. May all my dreams come true.


I parked Laling and pose for pics, but very soon, a police patrol car stopped on the opposite side of the road. The police shouted something to me in chinese and waved his hand, meaning that I am not allowed to stop there and take pics. I hurriedly left before he give me a ticket.

I rode to Shangri La’s famous old town, in search for a place to stay for tonight. I checked in at a Zambala, a Tibetan style GH, located behind a medicine shop which was very cheap. However the room was very cold and I was shivering even though I had layers of thick blankets on me. I had to ask for an electric blanket which the owner happily gave me without any extra charge.

Around 4pm, I went out for a sightseeing. Shangri La, or also known as Zhongdian, was made famous by James Hilton’s novel – The Lost Horizon. This small town has got nowhere near Lijiang's crowds, and it's still possible to experience the area's Tibetan heritage and see gorgeous countryside in near isolation. A big part of the old town was burned by a fire in January 2014. However, there are still plenty of small charming streets to explore. I wandered at the old town and the ruins. Nothing much had left and construction can be seen everywhere.


Can u see the full moon above the roof?



I soon reached the foot of a small hill where the golden temple was located. This temple gave a free taste of what can be seen in Songzanlin Monastery.




There was a nightly dancing in the square near the temple. Locals of all ages, and anyone is welcome to join in. I prefer to just sit on a bench and watched them. The dance and the song is entertaining, but somehow, all of a sudden I felt very lonely. The full moon in the sky flashed back some sweet yet heartbreaking memories. In the darkness, I soon found myself crying my heart out.





7th Dec 2014: SHANGRI LA – JIANCHUAN – SHAXI (192km)


There was a slight snow fall last night.



Therefore, todays ride is very chilly and freezing. Even though I had put on the thermal wear and wore a pair of wool gloves beneath my riding gloves, my fingertips were so cold that I suffered from cold burn. I rode slowly so that the gushing wind’s effect can be minimised but still, it was too much for me. I had to stop by the road side for a while to warm my hands. However, after taking off the gloves and upon rubbing my hands in attempt for some heat, I screamed in pain. My fingertips were so swollen and felt as if its going to burst any minute. To touch them already caused me a terrible pain, what more when rubbing them. It was so so so painful. Then only I remembered my sifu, Hadi Hussein once warned me about this.

My bulging finger tips....rasa nak pecah....sakit woo.....

After gaining some warmth, I continued riding on the same G214 road which I rode yesterday. It was hard to press the throttle bcos my fingertips were aching in pain. However, I ignored the pain and told my mind to focus on the view. Yes, despite the pain and the chill, the view was beautiful and the cloudless sky was blue.




There were some parts when I was descending the mountain, where a thin layer of snow covered the road. I had to ride very very slowly as the road was slippery. Then I stopped for lunch at a restaurant. During this ride, I seldom ate at restaurant as I’m particular about halal food. Most of the time I will cook my meals and packed some for lunch. However this time, it was an exceptional as the chill made me so hungry. Over here, theres no restaurant sign written in English. To know that it is a restaurant, normally the outer side of the premise along the road was decorated with big colourful flags.

Rice, tea and omelette with tomatoes, RMB25 (RM12.50)

After lunch, I continued riding towards Jianchuan. The view of the green Jinsha River and its surroundings were sooo beautiful. Again, all praises to Allah the almighty!





I soon found myself approaching a toll plaza. Have I miss a junction? I believed yes, bcos I didnt see the junction of the off road construction site which met G214 which I rode yesterday. I rode on, thinking that the road after the toll was not an expressway as happened upon entering Lijiang the other day. However, this time, it was. The toll girl stopped me and very soon after, a policeman with a fierce look came towards me. As usual, I played my charm. 
"Ni hao.....wo yau cai Jianchuan.....which way?" 
His fierce look diminished and was replaced with a broad smile upon knowing that I am a lady riding a scrambler bike, which is very rare in China. He could speak a little English and he told me that I had to take an alternative trail to G214. He walked with me for about 50m and pointed me the trail which then met with the bad paved road of G214.

I rode on passing Jianchuan town. There was a busy street market everytime I passed a village. The hawkers sold ripe big oranges and other fruits and veges. I had to slow down and at times, stopped completely by the road side bcos the market was jammed packed with people. After Jianchuan, I turned right to S311. The road became narrower, but with less traffic. Few kilometres later, I turned left to X084. The small narrow road wind into the mountains. The ascend and descend were pretty steep at times. Finally, I reached Shaxi, my destination for today. I rode slowly, trying to find the famous Horse Pen 46 Hostel suggested by Lonely Planet, but I couldnt find it. Fortunately, I saw a western couple who happened to stay at this hostel and they brought me there. The location was a bit hidden. No wonder I cant find it.

Shaxi is the last remaining market town on the ancient Tea & Horse Caravan trail. Too bad that I wasnt here on Friday, or else there will be a Friday Market where the Bai people from all the villages in Shaxi Valley and the Yi people from the surrounding mountains all come together to trade everything from fresh produces to supplies and horses. I took some time to check on this very charming small ancient cobble stone town which still preserved their ancient architecture.







8th Dec 2014: SHAXI – DALI – WEISHAN (204km)


Today is a looonggg day. After checking out in the morning, I rode the same way back to G214, heading to Dali. When I was riding north few days ago, I accidentally rode on S221, but upon heading south today, I rode on G214 which 60% of it happened  to be off road. Gravels, hard dirt, soft dirt & mud, you name it. I felt like mini Kyrgyz, offroading along the winding mountain road. Constructions was on going here and there, thus I had to share the road with lorries carrying sands, gravels and rocks. Not far on the other side, I could see the nice, wide and paved expressway of GS611 which only permitted to cars, vans and buses. How unfair :(





Soon, I reached Dali. Since my GPS cant give me driving instructions, I had my route all memorized in my mind. Hence, I didnt face any problem to enter and exit Dali town. 





I wanted to go to the southern part of Erhai Lake again, however, some confusion resulted in me taking the wrong way. I found myself riding on a nice newly built paved road, heading to god-knows-where. Realizing my mistake, I tried to turn back, but there is no U-turn for about 7kms. I passed three tunnels before I managed to U-turn and decided to forgo Erhai Lake which I had seen the other day, and continued straight to Weishan via route S213.


The scratched road....Laling's off road tires performed badly on road like this

The road to Weishan was winding paved ups and downs and with lots of traffic. The wind was pretty strong too. It took me a while to reach Weishan due to this. 


Public toilet...ko tenguk aku, aku tenguk ko, boleh gitu?
Solar lamp post @ Weishan
Weishan Old City

The only thing I had in mind when reaching my destination is to lie on a warm bed as I was sooo exhausted. Upon arrival, I rode in the old town area trying to find a guest house, but I couldnt see any. I exited the old town and tried to find accommodation at the main town, but guess what? The hotels here had their signage written in chinese characters only, which I couldnt understand. I met a nice Muslim local woman (who can't speak a word of English) and using hand signals, I asked her to help me. She rode her scooter and took me to few places but all of them refused to accept me bcos I'm a foreigner. She brought me to a big hotel which accepted foreigners but charged too damn expensive. The woman surrendered and said sorry for being unable to help me anymore.

Now its only me, damn tired, still room less and its getting dark. I tried asking other people to help, but communication really suck here. A lady who pitied me asked her son to escort me to a nearby guest house, but again they didnt accept foreigner. I rode back to the old town, but I still couldnt find any place to sleep. Even though I have my tent with me, I cant simply camp in China. Someone told me that he was chased by police and had to break camp in the middle of the night bcos he camped in a park near the town. Wild camping (provided the police didnt see u) is okey, but if they notice u, they will ask u to leave. So how now?

I am already teary eyed when I spoke out loud, "Help me, Allah!!!" Out of nowhere, I saw two westerners and I asked them where did they stay. They brought me to an alley with a small sign written 'Beyond The Clouds'. Finally, after 2 hours in search for a room, I settled here. The rate for a dorm bed is RMB60 with breakfast, which is quite pricey. Comparing to other places which I had stayed during my ride in Yunnan, I can get a nice private room for the same price. But its okey. At least now I have a bed.

How on earth would I know this is a guest hse?

Only god knows how tired and hungry I was as I only had muffin and a cup of hot milk since morning. I felt like eating a cow. Thank god that theres plenty of Muslims halal eateries here.




7 comments:

  1. What an adventurous solo ride around Yunnan. Your Birthday pic I posted in FB was Tiger Leaping George in the backgroud. Pity you couldn't find the route to that place. The pictures from your Lumix were vivid...lovely indeed, especially the autumn scenery.
    Enjoy reading your post...thanks for sharing your adventures, Anita.

    Willy

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  2. Thx Faith Craft
    Glad that u enjoyed my post SK ALL SAINTS KAMUNTING....TQ :)

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  3. Lovely pics. You were blessed with great weather. What was it 10 days later when we passed , the plains after Shangri-La were covered in snow .Kippidap :-)

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  4. Thanks Griffin. It must be tough for u guys as the time u rode there is already mid of December...but theres sweetness after the bitterness, am I right? We are the very few Malaysians who had reached Shangri La by motorbike :)

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  5. We parked in Lijiang and took the car the final journey to Shangri-La as the temp was too cold ,below freezing and the roads were icy.Black ice caused a lot of accidents to cars as per the reports, motorbikes would have been suicidal.

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    Replies
    1. I udstd yr situation. I believed u did whats best for u at that time. Its not worth to ride if the road is unsafe. Its ok, bro, kalau ada rezeki, nx time can repeat....just make sure dont come during winter lah :)

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