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TR - A short Cycling-Camping Tour in South China (warning: photo heavy)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Another long delayed trip report. The trip happened in Nov of last year, right before the 2018/19 ski season. I was too busy jumping into the ski season to have time to sort my photos. Then as the ski season winds down, the ski trip reports come first as they're more fresh to my mind. Now, I had a chance to reflect on this unique trip.

South China are mostly in the sub-tropic zone. Summer can be unbearably hot and humid. The better time for cycle-touring is actually the winter season. But that conflicts with skiing. So I decided my best bet is to squeeze a short one in late autumn, right before the snow starts flying in my home region (New York)

Our short little tour went from the southern metropolis city of Guangzhou (a.k.a. Canton), to an area call Yingde/Yingxi about 100 (or 120?) miles away, give or take.

I will let the pictures do most of the talking.

The landscape:










No, this is NOT the famous Li River in Yangsuo. But the landscape is in some way similar. Soft limestone shaped by the environment to strange shapes. Covered by lush green vegetation. Framed by their reflections on rivers and ponds.

It's little known outside the area. So it's NOT YET overrun by tourist mobs, at least not in November, outside of local school holidays.

The Riding:

I had some local cyclist contact. They know the area, the roads, the traffic, the sights, the camping spots. That helps a lot.

Traffic in China can be maddening. But with my local contact, they've done the route, knew which road has the least amount of traffic and the best road surface. This is us crossing a bridge, well separated from trucks and tractors. And frankly speaking, it's not a bad looking bridge.



Sightseeing by bike:











And the path are also used by the locals:




Inevitably, we got lost:


Trying to find this cave:





This rock formation is nicknamed "The Camel":

which I'm inclined to agree.

And this I would call "Camel and Cow"? Toofy Grin



This I'm told are crawling with rock climbers in the summer:





A nothing special corn field:

(ok, framed by dramatic rock formations Toofy Grin )


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Fri 24-05-19 15:52; edited 4 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Road side lunch spot:




Oh, getting the raw material for our lunch:


And:


Lunch was a drawn out affair. The time "wasted" was worth it though, especially when the tour group includes a retired chef from a 4-star restaurant! Smile


Setting up camp:


Getting up in the morning:
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Striking scenery.
Looked like you had fun, thanks for sharing. snowHead
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
@abc, fantastic photos. Thanks.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
abc wrote:


Traffic in China can be maddening. But with my local contact, they've done the route, knew which road has the least amount of traffic and the best road surface. This is us crossing a bridge, well separated from trucks and tractors. And frankly speaking, it's not a bad looking bridge.


Not bad at all, not even a slope on it. We could do with a bridge like that around here.

How warm was it?
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Wow, my type of holiday, apart from the camping bit obvs. Thanks for posting
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:
How warm was it?

Let me think, I was wearing shorts but knee warmers in the morning. That’s probably in the 50’s. By noon, the leg and arm warmers are off. That’s around 70’ish.

This was end of November.

Frosty the Snowman wrote:
Wow, my type of holiday, apart from the camping bit obvs. Thanks for posting

Camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I like it, but only to some degree.

On the one hand, is the fresh air and wide open vista of our “room”. But the negatives are no flush toilet. And in cold days, no hot shower.

Motels are cheap and easy to find. So on long tours, many “non-core” campers will do a night of motels every few days.

The area we were touring actually has many holiday let type of houses. The group leader mentioned in previous trips with less experience cyclist, they rented a 2 room house for 100CNY/person (something like 10 pound?), which also includes breakfast and dinner using locally grown produce.

I wouldn’t bother with the hassle of carting all my camping gear half way around the world for just a short tour. But I was fortunate my local contacts have extras to loan me.

I only brought my riding shorts, jersey and gloves. A pair of shoes good for both walking and riding. Sunny with both clear and dark lens came in quite handy. I got loaned bike, helmet, even the leg warmer! (didn’t bring my own, didn’t think I need it).

First day was 60 (or 65?) miles because we need to get away from the urban sprawl of Guangzhou. The sightseeing days are shorter in milage as we stop to take lots of pictures (and got turned around a few times trying to find the specific sights we were hoping to see)

Terrain was flat to rolling.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
abc wrote:
Quote:
How warm was it?

Let me think, I was wearing shorts but knee warmers in the morning. That’s probably in the 50’s. By noon, the leg and arm warmers are off. That’s around 70’ish.

This was end of November.



I ask because you look quite warmly dressed in the photos.

Any hassles with the police? A friend rode from Lyon to Japan via China and had some hassle with permits but that was a few years back.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
davidof wrote:
I ask because you look quite warmly dressed in the photos..

Day 1 was cloudy with occasional drizzle. So it felt a little colder than the temperature would indicate. (Hence the arm and leg warmer)

When the sun came out, it was perfectly right temperature to be in shorts and short sleeve jersey.

My local contact told me November is the best for that region. Cool, breezy and bug free. Summer is simply too hot and too humid. Not to mention school holidays and crowds. May also has pleasant temperature. But the monsoon bring more rain.

In fact, we're talking about another one this November. Not sure I can pull it off though, as I've used up my allotted annual leave already. If November doesn't work out, I may try Christmas, though the flight would be more costly. Christmas is not a holiday in China, so crowding isn't an issue. The advantage of that timeframe, I can tack on a week to 10 days of skiing in Japan. 2 birds in 1 stone.

Quote:
Any hassles with the police? A friend rode from Lyon to Japan via China and had some hassle with permits but that was a few years back

As we were not crossing the border by bike, there's no border formality.

However, to stay in hotels and motels, they record the ID. If you don't have a Chinese ID, not all the motels want to deal with the extra formality required. The first night we stayed in a motel (it was raining). The Chinese who have ID went in to book the room, those of us who don't have local id (one of the Chinese forgot his wallet & ID at home!) just walk in with the group. The front desk staff just looked the other way.

I'm a Hong Kong permanent resident. So I do have an ID that sort of work "in between". Some places, it works just like a Chinese ID (train/plane ticket). But other places it's treated as a foreigner. More "sensitive" region (Tibet/Xinjang), it's definitely more tightly controlled. That's true even for Chinese nationals, according to the member of the group who had travelled more extensively in China.

A bit more problematic is because I don't have a Chinese bank account, I can't pay via Wechat, which is now the way everyone pays for everything. (if you look at my picture of the market, note the little square on the upper left hand corner. That's the shop's Wechat account!). So I let the Chinese in the group do the shopping and hand them cash afterwards. They kind of wink and blink, and said "now I have to make a trip to the bank to deposit the cash!).

Infrastructure in China has improved significantly the last few years, making independent travel a reality. However, the open atmosphere of freedom and democracy has deteriorated. That's partly why I'm going there so often, not knowing how much longer the "open policy" will last. With an authoritarian rule, it can go either way. Can go really quickly too.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
A few more random pictures:





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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Awesome to see your photos and report, @abc! Brings back memories - China is such a fascinating place, we absolutely loved cycling through.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@MagSeven, YOUR trip was the inspiration! snowHead

I enjoyed it so much, I'm hoping to do another one later this year.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
That’s great to hear! Where are you thinking about for the next one? Yunnan and Sichuan were fantastic and our favourite areas. But I’m sure there are loads of places all over China that’d make for excellent cycling. I feel like we barely scratched the surface!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@MagSeven, hello! How are you guys? Toofy Grin
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
MagSeven wrote:
That’s great to hear! Where are you thinking about for the next one? Yunnan and Sichuan were fantastic and our favourite areas. But I’m sure there are loads of places all over China that’d make for excellent cycling. I feel like we barely scratched the surface!

My friend’s bike group will go anywhere. But I think I want to do the area around Canton first. It’s a region I had traveled a bit back in the 70’s. I’m excited to see the changes from what I remembered.

Another attractive alternative they proposed was to ride the section of Li river upstream of Yangsuo the tourist trap. I’m told the scenery is practically identical. And the experience far superior without the droves of tourists getting in the way. (And we can still have the option to go do the tourist thing for a day)

Of course I’m interested in Yunan (and Sichuan to a lesser degree). But I’m a little worried about the mountainous terrain. It may be a bit too much, especially for loaded camping trip?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Puts my very gentle exploits into perspective. snowHead
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