We decided to rent scooters in yangshuo. With our new friends Nate, Alex and faith,
And the cheapest price was through Alex and faiths guesthouse,for some electric ones.
We were brought down an alley to see our steeds and show our commanding skills to show our vast experience to the renter lady.
Alex went 1st and wobbled his way round in a circle, I zipped around in complete professionalism beeping my horn,
And Nate well... Darted straight for the side of a house, turned on his feet and came back to a stop,
Impressed with our skills the lady let us go driving on the mental roads of china.
We went in search of a decent swimmable river and also a bit of exploring,
Although soon enough we discovered our map was outrageously not to scale, and a mere imaginative doodle
Of what yangshuo would be like if all the sights and landmasses people and shops all huddled together in harmonious proximity.
Faith, our Chinese speaking girl asked a random. Yangshuoian person of the whereabouts of a river, and off we went.
Zipping down country lanes, across busy intersections, Sinead on the back holding on for dear life.
Soon the roads an paths disappeared and we found ourselves negotiating the ridges between paddy fields. Unfathomable water to the left, muddy wattery paddy field to the right,
On a ridge, of loose rock and dirt 6inches wide beneath,. We made fierce progress into the unknown ducking and diving swerving and reversing, flooring it and lifting it. up and over rocks, down and around twists and bends,
Eventually this hardcore off road paddy adventure took its toll on Doris, nates bike.
She was pronounced dead on the scene. She was completely out of battery and had to me coaxed by hand.
We eventually came to a path, an to charge nates bike we must find a shop of any description and plug it in for a few yuans.
Soon we seen a shop, however it lay directly across a large river and with no bridges around we where f*cked.
Until a couple of locals floated along on their bamboo rafts.
They usherd us to roll the bike down the embankment and onto their raft, sail it across the river and plug it in across the way.
We expressed our concerns about rolling someone else's bike down a hill onto a boat made of sticks, traversing the river, and getting it up the other side, but they were all for it. Even fetching a second bamboo raft to put on the 1st , after some time hesitating, mulling over the pros and cons of this voyage we decided to decline their offer and we carried on soon finding a little tea shop ahead.
We decided to plug all of our chariots in in fear of more Doris's happening.
The charge would take about 2hours, so we walked the river to have a look and see if it's clean enough to swim.
There was a few locals swimming the far side, the water was moving quick enough, we deemed it grand and took a run and jump through the 37degree air into the cool river making sure to clench all orifices mouth nose and whatever else to prevent unauthorised water/ inhabitant entry.
The bikes got a 2hr charge and we set of back to town..about 500m Down the road Doris died again, she did not charge.. And neither did ours,
We rang the lady we rented them off, she said she will come and collect the bike,
What she ment was, she was coming out to tow our bike with her bike with a piece of rope. The canadian afraid of certain death declined on taking part. I mean it is hard enough driving a bike on Chinese roads, nevermind driving a bike that is tied to a Chinese person weaving around the traffic
Alex the English guy took Betty and got towed (and survived)
It was now beginning to get dark,
We had to follow the lady to find our way back to town, and the closer we got we lost her in the 100s of other bikes,
But it wasn't far
Now night, Giant bugs were slapping into my face and eyes as we drove.
With each acceleration the light in front would go out
Any hill brought our bike to a crawl, she was dying too..We just made it back before she died
An awesome day was had by all!
Lessons learned here
get a petrol bike:D
Drinking Yak Butter Tea with The Tibetan Nomads of Yunnan. Shangrila. China
Zhongdian, was renamed in 2001 to the fabled lost utopia 'Shangri la' by the Chinese in an effort to boost tourism. It lies on the borders of Tibet, Sichuan and Myanmar amid rolling hills, mountain peaks, plateaus of colorful wildflowers, rare herbs and many wild Animals sitting at an average altitude of 3000 meters. The whole area was once part of Tibet and although the Borders have moved, the Tibetan people and traditions have remained. So if you cannot manage to jump through the hoops involved in getting to Tibet itself, getting here is a good effort.
Getting here usually involves an ass numbing 4ish hour bus ride from Lijiang passing Tiger Leaping Gorge on the way.
The rainy season in is from May to July and September to October, the roads aren't great as it is, so when the rain comes it might be very hard to reach places in the area, and when winter comes around many roads can close.
The old town itself is oozing Tibetan culture, old winding cobbled streets, stupa's lined with prayer flags, and some good old traditional Yak Hot pots. The 300 year old Songzanlin Monastery is well worth exploring, not to mention the giving largest prayer wheel in the world a spin. Each evening the town square comes alive with dancing and music for about an hour or so.
Many people are attracted to the area for its excellent trekking. Treks can go on for as long as you've got time for. A simple not to strenuous day hike, leads from the Shika mountain summit,down through beautiful valleys, forests, colorful meadows, sky blue lakes and past the always watching eyes of a big hairy Yak.
The summit can be reached by the best looking cable car station i have ever seen, all traditionally done up in Tibetan style, complete with prayer wheels!
on our descent we passed some small huts & old log cabins, built by Tibetan nomads who travel with their herds.
Our Tibetan guide met a local nomad and got chatting. The nomad was seeking out his Yaks on his motorbike through the forest. He then invited us back to his cabin for some traditional Yak Butter Tea with some freshly made Yak cheese & Barely bread. Meandering through the long grass, avoiding big Yak bum cakes, we got to a small number of fairly basic and not so element proof, one room shacks.
In the middle of the floor, there was warm burning embers, surrounded by various pots and utensils.
A couple of shelves where home to batches of Yak Cheese, destined for the towns market.
He chatted with our guide, as he brewed our tea and served up lashings of the Yak Cheese.
I peeled it up and opened wide. My face tried to turn itself inside out, like eating the bitterest lemon ever, dipped in sour milk. Although sprinkled with some sugar it went down easier, and i was then offered another plate!
The Yak Butter Tea, was sweet, salty and creamy, and tasted slightly smokey from the fire.
The curious peeking eyes of the nomads little child came around the door, he was trying to figure out who these aliens where. We soon left, thanking the man and made our way back to the cable car station.
Fingers hovering over the confirm flight button.. Passenger details entered. Credit card number in
‘If we click that means we are off to China in 7 weeks ye’. ..aaaaah!
Some more finger hovering, some almost clicking and after some time, in a joint effort we clicked the confirm flights and our plane from London to Beijing on the 10th of July 2011 was booked!
Shit shit shit shit..we are going to China in 7 weeks and nothing is planned!
I tried to keep it quite in work as I wanted to tell the boss before he heard from someone else..
meanwhile I was sneaking off getting travel injections every now and then..
However knew the jig was up when he called me Philleas Fogg and wanted a word..
‘Nigel I heard something there about you wanting to do a bit of travelling?
‘Eh.. yes maybe for a couple of months..ya know while im still young…’
‘Yes that’s great..in the near future?
‘Nah not really maybe in about…Eh.. 6 weeks..’
‘That is the near future ya bollox! Lol’
‘yes I suppose it is lol’
‘alright we’ll talk about it later’
And with that work was sorted. Only 6 weeks and I’ll be homeless in Beijing I thought..
Even the big daddy, the owner of our store,
came into work to say farewell
YOU..are you the one leaving? No im Eoin that’s Nigel over there
The next few weeks was spent looking at maps of the world. Plotting potential routes through countries and continents, by season, transport and by price(all this planning goes out the window when you are on the road)
I booked a tour leaving Lhasa for the 21 of Aug and that was the only thing solid at the moment. That and being homeless in Beijing the 11th July
The date approaching, we got our new backpacks, which would be our new homes away from home for the next few months or even years.
Slowly but surely more packages arrived to fill up or backpacks, sleeping bag liners, travel clothes, adaptors.
The last day of work came as did the last weekend of living with my friend Andrew.
We had lived together for almost two years, had two 37” hdtvs two PS3’s and surround sound in the sitting room all side by side to play games together.
Our neighbours would have hated us except they were travellers and made more noise than we did.
We had a going away party in the local pub and all the friends and gang from work came down. Either to see me off or to make sure I went! After a great night and large amounts of Jack Daniels I awoke in an awful condition with a loose grasp on gravity and a similar grasp on the contents of my guts. I began the arduous task of packing boxes, moving all my crap to my mams house and giving the apartment a clean!
I was to spend the next and final week in Ireland staying with my mam..back in my old room, playing with my dog and having the last home cooked meals for a long time to come!
We Landed in London, hopped on the tube and were met by Sinead’s Uncle Matt, where we would be spending the night.
Sineads camera was shite so we did a little looking around for a new one but didn’t get anything
had a BBQ and a beer and chilled out..
We Boarded our plane the new A380, big on the outside normal on the inside.
first stop Dubai for a couple hours, then Beijing.
About an hour from Beijing, as were nibbling away on our breakfast/lunch or whatever it was…
WWOOOOOOSSSHhhh…the plane dropped about 500m..Sineads can of sprite hit the overhead storage spilling everywhere, people falling and people getting sick..flight attendants trying to get people to stay seated as they strapped themselves in..the captain saying something about damage control….people still trying to walk around..i can only imagine what the toilet situation was like considering the height Sineads can of Sprite got to…
The worst turbulence ever!
After gathering our bags and converting our last Euros and Pounds to Yuan we set of to get a taxi to our Hostel. I knew the price should be roughly 250Y after checking with the hostel
We went to the taxi Q and asked the attendant how much roughly to the area we were going
We asked a taxi ourselves..’700’
We walked down from the main exit and found a taxi for the right price..
The closer we got to the city the darker it got, and as we arrived at our hostel it was night
Tucked away in a dark laneway off a main road behind some tiny local rundown shops..wondering ‘oh god is this the right place..i GPS’d myself continuously..and yes I was in the right area..
We pulled up beside our home for the next week, The Happy Dragon.
Shown to our bed room, quick look around for bed bugs, and a joke or two about the hole in the ground toilet we had a well deserved sleep!
A Free Range Cabbage originating in Ireland.