Matthias riding in Yunnan with Tibetmoto
This blog article was published first on the private website of Matthias Stepponat on stepponat.de. Thank you very much for letting us put it on tibetmoto.de.
The tour is starting in Dali and is taking us via Shaxi into the Tiger Leaping Gorge. This area is really showing off with giant rocks, deep gorges and the massive power of the river. In case you decide to take some time for a sweaty hike you will be rewarded with some unbelievable impressions from the nature. After this your thighs may hurt, but at least for us it was worth it to do this exhausting hike.
After this the tour took us through endless turns and small mountain roads to Shangri-La to spend there one night on an altitude of approx. 3.200m and spin the biggest prayer wheel in the world. A few of us suffered already at that night under a shortage of breath. But the highest point of the tour is still coming! We are following the „Pass of the White Horse“ and eventually we will arrive on an altitude of 4.292m – NOW it is hard to breathe for everybody. Especially the Motorbikes!
Unfortunately it is foggy and we can’t shoot good photos at that day – but the Tibetians and Chinese people taking tons of pictures from the European guys on the Chinese Motorbike. Today we are the sighseeing attraction for the local people! Nice feeling.
We make our way down, below the 3000m benchmark and stay the next two days in villages that nobody would know or could even spell. After these days we arrive in Lijang a prefered tourist region in Yunnan – Sonam, our guide from Tibet calls this the night of the „One-Night-Stands“. And indeed it is a touristical city – you even have to pay a fee as pedestrian to enter old downtown.
We are moving forward to Wumu – this is my personal favourite on this tour. In terms of accomodation as well streetwise. With two (optional) offroad tracks – one of them will take you to Shitouchen an antique „stone village“ – is this part of the tour the greatest joy with the motorbike. No straight road, again only turns of all shapes and sizes. I am in bikers Paradise.
Next day we will move on wider roads – but even here without straight passages – to Lugu Lake. The location let us believe for a moment that we are in Italy. We enjoy this mediterran feeling, surrounded by the mountains will a lot of Sunshine.
The from Lake Lugu to Chenghai, a little town in the middle of nowhere with a really nice Lake is not spectacular, however still good to ride. In the afternoon we hike to the lake to end the day with a nice drink, because the end of this tour is already knocking on our doors. Suddenly at the lake a bunch of village people is showing up and shooting pictures and videos from the awkward white guys. Little children are touching the guy with the bigger belly – a living, laughing Bhudda to touch!
Our tourguide Hendrik re-arranged the last day of the tour and found a tiny little, fantastic mountain road which takes us with almost no traffic (as usual) to Dali, our starting point. However the highlight of today is certainly our Swedish guy Jonathan. At his motorbike the rear tire suddenly blocked approx. 60km before Dali. It was amazing to watch from behind how he was able to control the bike sliding over the street and finally stopping the bike without causing a crash. Well Done Jonathan, Well Done!
In any case we´ll need some time to assimilate all the pictures, the great experience and the hospitality from this tour. And by having this said i am looking now to all the things beside the road:
Vehicles: The chinese motorbike, a Shineray 400 is really a good choice for this region. 400cc and 27 Horsepower is not much. And sometimes i was afraid that the asthma afflicted engines will not get enough air to take us to the top.
All the time the engine it is rattling and banging, with every single up the mountain the maximum rpm is getting lower and lower, and the Shineray is used digitally – however driving the bike is fun!
Sometimes the streets are so small with so many turns that a speed of 40km/h can be called crazy rush. I am happy that the quality issues are not my problem –Hendrik and his team are taking care about this. For this reason i can focus to drive and not to repair – and because of that the Shineray is a really good choice for this tour.
The Organsation: Tibetmoto did a really good job. Hendrik prefers to let us drive free, Sonam the guy with the Mothertongue takes care that we get really good food and Trainee Dominik the gofer takes care about all the little things on the tour. Other than that he is organizing the more or less cold beer to get rid of the dust.
Coffee seem to be a really seldom good in Chins – but the guys from Tibetmoto taking care, that the good old Germans will get a kind of coffee during breakfast.
Most of the daily tours are scheduled with an average of 200km per day. Before we started i thought: „That’s not much!“, however considering the profile of the streets it was more than enough for every day. Just the many Kilometers that we used to hike was a little surprising to me and i would have appreciated a better hint in the description of the tour to be best prepared for the „Bike & Hike Tour 2016“.
Accomodation: The chinese people seem to prefer a really hard mattrass. After three days i felt like a „Princess on the pea“ – but fortunately after the first three days the beds got softer and softer (or we got familiar with the chinese hard stuff)
In general i can say that Hendrik picked some good Hotels, considering the region we went to. However a four / five star Hotel with european Standard should not be expected!
The Food: The Beer in China is just great – hundreds of different bottle sizes combined with homeopathic dosis of alcohol. With this you’ll never get drunk fast enough.
If you like chinese Food, you’ll love Yunnan. The secret here is certainly a lot of oil, garlic, ginger and a chinese Wok driven by a giant gas jet, which sounds like a person who will inflate a hot balloon. Our Tibetan guide Sonam takes care that the dishes are a good mixture of meat and vegetables. Furthermore i never thought that „Stinky Tofu“ could be a good choice for Breakfast. Just the touristical Foodcourt in Lijang was disappointing to me.
Conclusion: China knows how to Impress! Regardless if i think about the weird driving schools, the massiv construction of streets – without any kind of traffic, the extreme high Mountains with unbelievable, sometimes breathtaking views. The olfactory adventure in the bath and restrooms as well as in the villages with all the pollution and dirt is really an experience. Very often it is better to follow the call of nature outdoors and find a clean tree to pee.
But China could impress with the small things as well – like the „Big Chinese Firewall“. Wifi at every corner, but free Internet almost never available. Everybody who need free access to the Internet should look after a Proxy, or a VPN connection.
If you are prepared for this – this Tour will offer a great experience. The financial investment on site is little and the Team of TIbetmoto is really doing a great Job. In particular i was happy to have one guide that was able to speak the language and was able to read the writing on the maps and menu –without you are lost in this country.
We are going home with a big bag of new and exciting Impressions and experiences. We had a good time in China and won some new friends. I am really looking forward to the next tour on a motorbike.
More of Matthias blog on stepponat.de.
Tribute video by Matthias Stepponat: www.stepponat.de/blog/
Don´t worry: All the unpaved roads are optional detours. We mainly ride on paved roads!