We had 90-day visas for China, but this was still not enough for us to cycle all the way across the country, so we took trains and buses quite often as well. We first crossed Xinjiang province by train in order to skip the vast steppe and desert regions and avoid too much hassle by the excessive security apparatus there. We then cycled along the Hexi Corridor in Gansu province from Jiayuguan to Lanzhou, visiting some ancient Silk Road sites on the way. In Lanzhou, we shipped all our camping gear to Singapore, as camping was becoming increasingly difficult and unlikely, reducing our luggage weight by half. We then took the train to Baoji, stopping by the Maiji Grottoes and Xi'an on the way. From Baoji, we continued by bicycle to Chengdu, crossing the Qinling mountains that separate northern and southern China. We skipped across the densely populated Sichuan basin by bus from Chengdu to Luzhou, and then started cycling into mountainous Guizhou province. We first followed a bicycle lane along the beautiful Chishui river to Maotai, home to the most famous liquor in China. We then had some tough days in the mountains to Zhijin cave, after which we bailed out and took the bus first to Guiyang, the provincial capital, and then to Kaili, the capital of Qiandongnan prefecture, home to many ethnic minorities. We then cycled on a relatively touristy route leading to Guilin and Yangshuo, the heart of China's scenic karst area. We spent our Christmas holidays in Yangshuo, after which we fast forwarded to the Vietnamese border by train just before our visas ended. Although we were often annoyed by the impatient drivers, incessant noise, and arbitrary restrictions on, well, almost everything, China has nevertheless been a fascinating country for its wide variety of landscapes and rich history.
It's currently not a good time to visit the province of Xinjiang, in the northwest of China. The conflict between Han and Uyghur people in the region→ Continue reading
Jiayuguan is at the end of the Ming dynasty Great Wall, that, in this area, used to protect the western reaches of the Ming empire and the Silk Road.→ Continue reading
In Lanzhou, we had consigned our bicycles to Baoji, where we had a Couchsurfing host waiting for us. However, we ourselves didn't go directly to Baoji→ Continue reading
The "Roads to Shu" are a system of mountain roads linking the Chinese provinces of Sichuan (Shu) and Shaanxi (Wei), built and maintained since the 4th→ Continue reading
Luzhou is famous in Sichuan for its liquor, of which we tried a little at our Couchsurfing host's place. Little did we know that, as we made our way i→ Continue reading
We left Guiyang as we had arrived - again by bus. We calculated that, by skipping a few more days through the mountains, we would then have just enoug→ Continue reading