Archive for November, 2010

Monday, November 29th, 2010

http://galton.org/books/art-of-travel/
how they did it before in the old days.. some good info and a lot of overt racism…

JCE-Cranes
If the link is not working then go to crazyguyonabike and look for journey to the centre of the earth. Just look at what they carry… my god.
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/resources/?o=3Tzut&resource_id=1435&v=6

One last one..

http://www.kreisels.com/tibet94/tibet-ebook-download.htm
This guy rode the road I wanted to do but in the opposite direction in the 90’s. Unable to get through this time but you never know if it will open up in the future (probably not eh…). A nice line about how it was a lesson in the management of pain :)

Why I am posting books? I am bored… Sat in Leshan waiting for another visa extension of the Chinese government. So in brief:

- The road south has 1450km left and looks very bad which means my birthday will be in China (bad) Xmas will be in China (very very bad) and new years is likely to be in the middle of nowhere and not vang vieng as planned
- A drunk Chinese kid tried to break into our hotel room. We thought that was a bit cheeky when there was a policeman downstairs. Turns out if you are a cleaner mopping floors you are allowed to wear police uniforms and have no connection with the authorities whatsoever
- They eat dogs in Chengdu. Want to see something that will make you cry… Dogs in cages on the back of a motorcycle off to a restaurant…
- They eat ducks heads here in Leshan

Friday, November 26th, 2010

It always makes me smile to think of the scallies walking round liverpool with their arms out swaggering down the road..  Not just Liverpool, there where a few people who shall remain nameless that I knew before I left that thought they could hold their own…

So you think your hard…?

Ok then… This was found on an austrlian forum whilst researching water points across the desert…

Re: planning long distance summer tour

Postby Detail » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:05 pm

Phhfft.

So you really want to bike an uninteresting main highway into gale force headwinds during the Wet Season?

So what?

Man, last year I met a woman who’d biked from Germany to Australia via all the ’stans and Tibet. Then a year of off-road tracks around Oz. She’d just biked from Cairns to Adelaide via the Birdsville Track, in January.

Her bike had no gears.

If you want to do something different at least tackle something that will be a challenge: the Canning Stock Route; Cape Yorke via Lakefield National Park; the Gunbarrel Highway.

Highway 1?

That’s a sealed road man.

I met a 7 year old kid biking that.

Point made?

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know

The poetry of Donald Rumsfeld

As promised more pictures that ended up on the cutting room floor due to Martins high standards.. for me they will more than suffice to convey the, hmmmm craziness of this place to you…

 

Pigs heads found by the side of the road....

Pigs heads found by the side of the road....

Sheep in a bag on a bike. Nothing unusal there then...

Sheep in a bag on a bike. Nothing unusal there then...

Nice bike, check out the chain guard... old boy wearing what everybody else wears standing in front of his house.. in a brief moment of stillness between waving frantically that we can eat further on down the road... nice guy.

Nice bike, check out the chain guard... old boy wearing what everybody else wears standing in front of his house.. in a brief moment of stillness between waving frantically that we can eat further on down the road... nice guy.

When was the last time you saw an aluminium kettle being made by the side of the road? get some old coke cans, a centrifugal fan attached to an old car battery, an old barrel and some fire clay and your away. No idea what was used for the crucible but the pour results where very good...

When was the last time you saw an aluminium kettle being made by the side of the road? get some old coke cans, a centrifugal fan attached to an old car battery, an old barrel and some fire clay and your away. No idea what was used for the crucible but the pour results where very good...

Green tea. Sorry....

Green tea. Sorry....

Tibet and its pilgrams... religious devotion never fails to push the boundary of what the human body can endure. The people in this photo are 70 year old women...

Tibet and its pilgrams... religious devotion never fails to push the boundary of what the human body can endure. The people in this photo are 70 year old women...

Never ever buy chinese tubes.... every day you can find me sat on the floor with the tyre levers out...

Never ever buy chinese tubes.... every day you can find me sat on the floor with the tyre levers out...

Fishmongers by the side of the road... not quite your local tescos is it...

Fishmongers by the side of the road... not quite your local tescos is it...

Get bored cycling across a vast country? find some rubbish in the road and write abusive messages for your mate who is behind you to find as they ride up a 12 percent gradient...

Get bored cycling across a vast country? find some rubbish in the road and write abusive messages for your mate who is behind you to find as they ride up a 12 percent gradient...

Ride up a hill for 30km, then through a tunnel with no ventilation for 2km dodging a bus that drove straight at me.. through a fake old chinese village (ye olde china), stop to eat sweet and sour pork with no pork, then back up another hill with switchbacks, road works one car crash and then this. Highlight of my day. Say no to smack kids....

Ride up a hill for 30km, then through a tunnel with no ventilation for 2km dodging a bus that drove straight at me.. through a fake old chinese village (ye olde china), stop to eat sweet and sour pork with no pork, then back up another hill with switchbacks, road works one car crash and then this. Highlight of my day. Say no to smack kids....

The standard mode of transportation for countless millions... A 125cc motorcycle.. You can fit 4 sheep on one of these, 30 chickens, 4 people, scaffolding poles you name it... note the fold down pannier holders and the crash guards which you rest your feet on easy rider style as you weave down the road, at night, with no lights on...

The standard mode of transportation for countless millions... A 125cc motorcycle.. You can fit 4 sheep on one of these, 30 chickens, 4 people, scaffolding poles you name it... note the fold down pannier holders and the crash guards which you rest your feet on easy rider style as you weave down the road, at night, with no lights on...

Wicker work.. i have to learn how to make these.. they have wicker winnowing trays as well that are 10ft in diameter, truly beautiful craft work. There is an old china here if you look hard enough...

Wicker work.. i have to learn how to make these.. they have wicker winnowing trays as well that are 10ft in diameter, truly beautiful craft work. There is an old china here if you look hard enough...

with a fag on- always with a fag on.

with a fag on- always with a fag on.

 

To leave you with two short stories as it has just taken two hours to get the above photos uploaded..

The first is in regards to an american english teacher who was teaching a classroom full of chinese kids on the run up to xmas.  One of the kids upon his return home tells his parents that the teacher had been talking about jesus. Two days later the teacher was forcibly deported from the country for talking about religion to the kids…

Next one.. i read about this one up north but have not been bothered to go and find it, remember the nail house story from the olympics (google it), anyway very similar one here in chengdu.. the guy had his windows shot out, found 14 live snakes in his kitchen and sustained serious wounds from what he claimed to be a beating with an iron bar. the property developers said that he sustained his injuries whilst running across the building site.. :)

So off to see a giant buddha and get another visa extension then it is full on down to Kunming and the border of Laos as fast as we can manage as time is not on our side at the moment.

Big thanks to Kim and his wife here at the hostel (kims cosy hostel, chengdu) one of the best I have ever stayed in. You want to go ahhhhh? kim and his wife met travelling in lhasa, after 2 days they had decided to get married and start a hostel togther.. they now have 2 kids and a hostel which serves full english breakfasts…

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Strange the things you find on the net isnt it…

http://www.transozbikeride.com/race.asp

5000 pounds cash prize… the only big problem is that it is running the wrong way and entry is 3000 pounds… Without bags those distances are not that bad… and with only 100 people in the game hmmmm

So anyway, I am in Chengdu and I am in a very nice hostel eating as much food as possible. the day we got here I must have put 6000 calories down my throat and I was still hungry. The roads here are taking it out of us.. 8 days straight up down, up down. It would appear to be like this all the way south so from struggling in the granny ring to bombing the other side appears to be the way.
In terms of the area… well I would by lying to you if I said Chengdu has taken a special place in my heart. Another huge chinese city (try 13 million people..) lacking any charm as anything old has been ripped down to be replaced with gaudy neon concrete buildings… sigh. My abiding memory of this country will be concrete mixers. From the countryside to the cities they are everywhere. That and seeing old shapers and lathes that have been delivered here from the west. I knew that our tools where being shipped out here but to see them. That really hurt a lot.
A different kind of pain is sure to be experienced by the two welders I saw working in a shop on the way into this city that spilled messily into the road with cardboard welding masks… It defies belief.

Anyway on a lighter note the hostel has been good in that we have met some people who speak english at last. A number of brits here who have reinforced my belief that some people should not be given passports… (”Uruguay isnt that in europe…?” and “****ing hell you cycled here from england, did you have a rucksack on the whole way?” and my favourite “you don’t sound very scouse, you sound german, you speak weird”) and a sense of concern that south east asia is going to be full of, how can i put? well you know what i am thinking dont you..

Other very good news, Martin got a discount off Hilleberg after contacting them for a new tent. Please never buy anything from Vaude, not only do they produce bad equipment they have appalling sales support. Buy Hilleberg and have done with it they really are the best tents in the world..

And D showed up again. The japanese guy who started in Cape Town… Small world no?… Hopefully we can catch up again in Kunming and cycle into Laos together. D went through Tibet from Golmud to Lhasa and then due east. Apparently 30 military wagons where going against him on his way out every day… funny how buddhists need to be watched is it not?
Best not talk of such matters till I am in Laos. However I will mention that there is a very very large statue of Mao on the main square here. there are also huge hanging banners with the hammer and sickle on the way into the city. If somebody could please explain to me how you have the communist flag flying proudly on the way in then having a 50 meter hanging Dior banner within sight of the statue of Mao (along with a mcdonalds and a starbucks…) then I would like to know… the epitome of conspicuous consumption next to a man who.. well Mao is Mao. Cognitive dissonance must be experienced by a large number of people here. Either that or they just go with the program. Best not to ask too many questions eh…

To add on a positive note I have seen another indication of a future trend…

http://www.diytrade.com/china/4/products/5434603/electric_bicycle_bike_land_wind.html

Is a bad example as a number of the ones that are EVERYWHERE here look a lot better… want one? less than 200 american dollars…
You could not make them for 200 dollars if you wanted too? Incredible.
Oh yeah the record so far for number of people on one of these is three grown adults.

tip to self do not post drafts… :)

If anybody can translate what the below is I would like to know… More strange adverts and wall paintings to come when I get the chance to upload them…

90c987b4d7818b9bb0e3f3fbf63b6ab9bd8f9b5638d4d96c8bef33333ad39bbb714198b5bffab325371b68086072af08797ef3a778c301ca6f2ccb277721194

Day lord knows…

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

“the civilised world flies on the golden wings of wisdom” Seen painted on a wall by the side of the road…

So.. we are in a city. I know not what its name is, just that it is China and people are staring at me like I have two heads. After four punctures and 115km we got here.. from yet another forgetable nameless city. The high number of punctures are due to the Chinese inner tubes, the natural dispensation the Chinese have for smashing glass bottles on the road and sheer bad luck. If you want to get stressed try taking all the bags of your bike, swapping both the tyre and the inner tube then getting 5km down the road only to repeat the process. whilst being stared at. Always the staring.

The worst or maybe the best, at least the most memoroable for being made to feel like a complete freak/celebrity was yesterday when we tried to get a taxi into Tibet. We have elected to cycle down the 212 as opposed to the 213 that runs through Tibet (ignore what the map say’s it is Tibet) as it is too cold at altitutde. so by coming down off the mountains we give ourselves a buffer against winter, which we are on the cusp of at the moment. The problem is that all the Chinese have taken the same attitude and the population here is staggering. The longest we have gone without seeing anybody is ten seconds. After the desert it feels a bit too much. Every square inch of land is terraced for farming, mainly cabbages and sweetcorn. Tractors and trikes labour along the road oblivious to the lorry drivers whacked out on imitation red bull drinks (red deer, red camel etc..). In a word stressful, but the scenery is a marked improvement on the pollution that we saw going in and out of Lanzhou.
So after Fergie’s recommendation and our own morbid fascination with the ritual of Sky Burials we elected to leave the bikes in the hotel and take a taxi up into Tibet to try and take a photo of some vultures eating a corpse. The things I do for you dear reader…
So after twenty minutes drawing pictures of cars and pointing at a map we get the hotel to call up a taxi, another fifteen minutes on the street haggling a price with the driver led us to being swamped with kids. As the crowd grew, traffic was stopping to see why two wide eyed idiots where remonstrating with a taxi driver… We ended up jumping into the cab paying the higher price just to get away…
To cut a long story short we misjudged the distance. Badly. 12 and a half hours in a taxi to cover 300km. That should give you an idea of what the roads are like… To give credit to the taxi driver he never once rolled his eyes when two westerners got in, paid him a days wages to drive to the middle of nowhere, get out, take a p*ss, shrug when the bloody thing you went all the way there to find could not be found, then get back in the car and ask to be taken back to the city…
We did eat Manti with some Tibetans who where riding round on motorbikes herding yaks and horses. One of them had an american flag covering his motorcycle, an expensive pair of trainers, a mobile phone and asked Martin and I for cash. Isn’t globilsation great….

Speaking of which Chinas coverage of the G20 meeting is funny but not as amusing as their coverage of the UK students protesting over tuiton fees.. Which side of the fence do you think china sits… I was reading in the China Post last week (China’s daily english paper) about the nobel prize winner who shall not be named… I am paraphrasing now as I can not remember the exact quote the author of the piece made but it went along the lines of ‘human rights should never be geiven precedence over national soverignity’….. Voting tory looks like the soft option now eh… And when did you turn over from the dross that is CCTV onto the Military channel? Different world folks… Speaking of CCTV the state owned television station, we where interviewed back in Kashgar and we might have been put on air, we might not. I might have been on German TV as well but hey ho..

As a matter of reference I should mention that after another long struggle to find an internet cafe and then another ball achingly long ordeal/argument to ask for a computer we have been led into a ‘private’ room with laminated screens, soft lighting and even softer chairs.. ahem..

On a higher level than the gutter.. go see what some friends are up too…

http://lemicronomade.jimdo.com/english-version/

Yopu have my respect for that one, wonderful to hear that you are still alive.

Right next post should be in Chengdu where there is rumoured to be an Irish bar and wait for it…… CHEESE! In a country of lord knows how many million you would think somebody could teach them how to make a cheese butty…

Day ?

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

“Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten”

1/ Got me a new visa extension
2/ Slept in a hotel where the walls where made out of cardboard boxes
3/ Saw a man carrying four sheep on a motorcycle that where still alive
4/ Went to have dinner in yet another grotty roadside cafe and ended up in the kitchen making dinner myself. “Look give me the chicken and I will do it…” cue taking a cleaver to a chicken…
5/ The 10 most commonly used expressions whilst cycling across China:
1. How are your legs/head?
2. Did you see that? He is a ******* moron that is why…
3. Truckdrivers should be shot.
4. Rice or noodles mate?
5. How many K left today?
6. Want to camp? no, thought not…
7. Have they got Oreo’s in here?
8. That is vile, that is truly disgusting.
9. Wonder where Fergie/Jean-pierre is/are?
10. Have they got CCTV english on the TV?
6/ We have learnt that you can toast marshmallows on a primus, lord knows what effect the diesel fumes are having, probably less than the pollution here which is rank
7/ Diesel shortage in China!!! Come on!!! no fuel no trucks, no trucks means no idiots with their hands surgically attached to their air horns..
8/ Saw some wonderous Chinese small holdings, an ox and a plow, solar water heaters, old girls knitting, peace and tranquility only to be spoled by ahem… trucks…
9/ Rode 3 passes (3850, 2950, 2500m) in three days. Do not want to do that again.
10/ Rode down 3 passes in three days, nearly lost the front going round a hairpin too fast on ice, one of those fun little tuck and then grip again wobbles that get you screaming at 9 in the morning..
11/ Had yet more refusals to camp. Martin got down on the floor to mimic sleeping so there was truly no loss of understanding on either parties behalf… ok, so we can not sleep on land that is clearly not yours, so we will go across the road and freeze there… you happy now?
12/ still no cheese or butter sighted. rumours abound that it is available in kunming….
13/ trying to design a coleman portable oven that i can get made out here so i can start cooking pizzas… anybody have any ideas?
14/ one of use ****** out of a window and the other **** in a bin because the toilets where that bad. put it this way the door fell off the first room we where shown as the guy in charge tried to maintain a straight face… up there with some of the worst i have ever seen…
15/ if you go into a restaurant and they have a big picture of a pizza, it means they do not have pizza
16/ after two months the entire extent of our chinese is, hello and thankyou. we might be saying thankyou incorrectly though
17/ we met some of the best people yet in Lanzhou, big thanks to sammy and his friends for dinner and all their help. So far lads you are the highlight of this country

Day ?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop” Confucius


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdo3itix75c

go easy it was our first attempt, but we thought you would like to see what it is like out there…..

oh yeah… what the hell are these…
http://www.cafepress.co.uk/globalcafe.50284914
I want royalties.