Categories
locations

kunming

mornings at the train station after a relaxing night in the sleeper class.

first i wanted to apply for the vietnam visa in kunming but i considered the time i have to wait or the money i’d had to spend for the express service and decided to go to laos instead where i can get a visa upon arrival.

this left me some time to explore the city, relax in some of the parks,

do some shopping to replace lost equipment and to get a map of yunnan and also one for laos.

kunming is called “spring city” because every season supposedly has some characteristics of spring and its rich vegetation throughout the whole year. since i was there in spring i can’t say nothing about that but it seemed like worth living there despite being a city of millions and it’s glass and concrete appearance of a major city.

i just looked it up. it is not “spring city” but “city of eternal spring”. i knew that “spring city” just sounded not chinese, not dramatic enough.

Categories
locations travel

leibo

after a great ride towards leibo…

and along the mahu lake…

i stopped for a cool drink and while looking at the map i realized that at my current speed and with me not always taking the most direct route i would not make it to the border in time before my visa expires. nevermind, what a great ride and the next train station is not too far.

Categories
food music people

invitation for dinner

i grew fond of the chinese food quickly. i have a sheet of paper with me explaining that i am a vegetarian, if my pronunciation failes me once again, and most of the times it turns out right.

sometimes i even get invited if people want to show respect for me traveling by cycle or if i am adressed by people who want to practice their english and to ask some questions about the why’s and how’s me ending up in their village, especially in areas where there are not many foreigners to be seen.

as a return for the invitation i have still my album to give in return.

Categories
people

flower movement saved

after i lost my rose from the flower movement (or it was stolen, the case is not closed yet) i was given this real one by passing school kids.

 

 it is always wonderful to see how they fight their shyness until one of them waves or says something and soon you are surrounded by the laughing mob.

Categories
travel

misty

the scenery is amazing so far. low hanging clouds and the mist are creating a special atmosphere that makes for a feeling of being at a mystical place.

especially one time where the main road just ended in a construction site. just some two wheelers and myself used the road for the next 20 miles and it was hard to imagine this road being usually filled with cars and trucks.

first i laid eyes on the bamboo woods i thought it would be a wonderful place for a night camp. with a candle burning outside (and in safe distance from) the tent it felt comfortable immediately.

after climbing up and down the mountains on the “old” roads, i ended up on one of those new roads which go through the mountain rather than around or over it. i felt like spending half of the day in those tunnels.

the road had almost no traffic and without any wind and going slightly downwards, moving forward effortlessly there was enough time to enjoy the acoustic of the concrete tubes.

Categories
locations

big buddha

120km south of chengdu lies the city of leshan. part of the mount emei scenic spot is the giant buddha site.

and here it is. 71 meters in height and its feet big enough to host a family for picknick.

the buddha has a wonderful background story. it was built to ease the rivers for safe passage for the ships. the construction and the massive relocation of rocks from the cliff face did truly calm the currents.

there were so many tourists visiting the statue that day that i didn’t bother to stand in line for hours to take a look from below. if you visit maybe it’s best to take the tour with the boat. cheaper tickets and a better view of the whole statue. oh, and if you visit by bicycle, don’t spend 5 yuan on a parking ticket. get yourself some icecream instead!

Categories
people

cyclemasala back home

after more than half a year on the road, morgan and battista found their way back to switzerland. here are two posts where at the very end you can see our reunion in kathmandu as i was just arriving from pokhara and they were coming back from a month of trekking:

http://cyclemasala.ch/fr/post445.html

and at dinner, also the last picture:

http://cyclemasala.ch/fr/post478.html

all the best to you!

Categories
equipment people thinking...

things i lost in the roadside ditch

i had this post coming for some time but never got around to finish it. today it was brought back to my attention as i left kunming without my music player. after a long days ride i was sitting in a restaurant considering the option to go back by bus, which would have been a 5 hour journey without any guarantees of success, when some crazy chinese guys offered me a lift in their van and i found it at the spot i left it. very lucky indeed!

here we go, so far…

lost:

2 fine drinking bottles

a towel

some books

my hat (2 times already)

money (not much but in a wide variety of currencies)

tension belts

the rose from the flower movement (probably stolen)

a tent peg

an air pump (air as well, haha!)

underwear (ragged)

shirt (not ragged)

food (most likely because carelessly strapped on the back of the cycle on top of everything)

sealing ring for the cooker

picks (my favourite thing to lose)

shampoo

shower gel

tooth paste

my lock (still at lake constance)

my hammock

my patience (in india)

a bolt for the rear derailleur

tire lever

maps

a knife

charger for the digi cam

desinfection spray

earphones

earplugs

sunscreen

stolen:

my shoes (in salerno, my dirty socks were left behind)

mobile and sim (in pokhara, the cook of my guesthouse ran of but sold it to the guy next door before he left. i got my mobile back, the sim card is still missing)

my favourite knife (while as luggage on a train)

broken:

digi cam (crash – repaired, though depending on the weather it still aches sometimes)

rear fender (thrown out for good after installing wider tires)

some pants

guitar (broken at the neck, the story)

and the guitar bag (was repaired by a skilled tailor in port blair, india)

Categories
locations people

couchsurfing chengdu

when i arrived in chengdu i realized how difficult it would be here concerning the language barrier. as some widely used words like “railway station”, “water” or “left” and “right” were understood in most countries so far, it was different once i walked out of the railway station and faced a city of 12 million with only a city map in chinese in my hands.

someone who just returned from the united states finally showed me some places on the map so that i could meet with my host dhane. we went straight to the apartment of a friend of his where he is teaching english to young children. it was pizza day and while he went on preparing the children screamed the ingredients for the whole house to hear. “cheeeezzze”, tomato sauce”, “mushrooooom”…

i think i was still a bit tired from the train ride, so also no photos of rumbling kids in the “classroom”.

dhane left early next morning for his work in the kindergarten and i picked out some spots from the mapn and took the cycle for a ride without the heavy luggage. chinese cities have mostly a seperate lane for cycles that is wide enough to stay away from the cars and busses. it would be wonderful if not for the new thing called “electric bicycle”. merely a scooter powered by a battery, these vehicles make those seperate lanes overcrowded and the positive noise reducing effect turns dangerous as soon as people don’t keep a safety gap between themselves and their human powered predecessors. but still, those lanes and the mostly spacious architecture makes it easier to navigate on a cycle and the parking for two wheelers is excellent. for a small fee people organize these spots and i think it also increases the chances of the bike still being there after you are done at the dentist.

jinli street is a main shopping attraction because of its ancient buildings.

now modernized and with posh stores and tourist shops moving in, it is difficult to have an eye for the old buildings with their detailed woodwork…

it must have been lovely around here once.

the change from bluest skies in tibet to an iron grey in chengdu was a bit heavy and didn’t change during my stay. even mao even melted with the grey skies…

chengdu is a city of 12 million people and the distances within the city are quite considerable as are some of the places and buildings.

on the last day of my stay a fellow cyclist, selcen from istanbul, stayed as another couchsurfer at dhane’s place. it was a pleasure meeting her there even if it was just for an evening. 

one of the reasons i wrote to dhane was our common interest in cycling. he is organizing a bicycle charity ride through nepal and india in 2011 to support homeless children. more information on his website. thank you for the “couch” and all the best for your future plans.

Categories
equipment travel

train out of tibet

the highest railway on this planet. a 50 hour ride through wonderful scenery. and i have to repeat myself, i like trains. the only major drawback was the budget option “hard seat”. the need to lay down was growing during the night and finally i pulled out my camping gear and found a space between the water station and a trash can. the cycle also found a rather unusual position after heavy negotiations to get it on the train at all.

mmh, not many photos from the wonderful scenery. maybe i was too tired to care about taking photos…