August
14th
2011

15,000 Kilometre Photo


15,000 kilometre photo

The 15,000 kilometre photo was taken 50 kilometres south of Erenhot in Inner Mongolia, China on 14th August 2011. The landmark came on our first day cycling in China after catching a train from Ulaanbaatar to quickly exit Mongolia. Having already shopped, slept and eaten in our first well stocked middle of nowhere Chinese town, we cycled the last stretch of sandy Gobi desert land on flat tarmac roads, with only occasional dinosaur sculptures to break things up. We’ll leave you pondering why Emma looks like she’s dressed for summer and Justin for winter, while the clouds behind could swing either way. – Posted by Emma

August
17th
2011

Quick Exit From The Gobi


Quick exit from the Gobi

We see just a fraction of the Gobi desert on the morning our train speeds from Ulaanbaatar towards the Chinese border town of Erenhot. Rolling hills the same colour as the flat plains pass the train windows like early computer graphics randomly generating a landscape. After our own sandy desert crossing in the West of Mongolia we’re more than happy to be viewing it from picture windows. There’s a large concrete rainbow set into the ground at the immigration border and as the train passes it, passengers crowd to the aisle and look out the windows. We’re in China! – Posted by Emma

August
25th
2011

Chinese Flash Mobs


Chinese flash mobs

Since arriving in China becoming surrounded by locals has become a daily if not hourly occurrence. Stopping in a small village to consult a map attracts a handful of helpful truck drivers, while a pause for a snack in a major town can attract a crowd so large we feel like minor celebrities and struggle to even do a head count. The source of the crowds is often a mystery to us as seemingly empty villages produce a horde of locals eager to stare at us, talk about us, touch our bikes and sometime upon occasion actually respond to our smiles and attempts at pronouncing “Nihao” (hello). In response to the suddenness of the crowd forming we have taken to comparing these gatherings to flash mobs. – Posted by Justin

August
30th
2011

Big City China


Big city China

We’ve fast-tracked from Pingyao to Xi’an, justifying another public transport adventure (or nightmare if you ask Justin) so we can avoid another week through China’s relentless industrial belt. The cycling would have been easy enough, but I asked for a get out of jail free card, sick of the constant rumble of trucks, the layer of grit coating my exposed skin and the low hanging smog leaving no view outside hazy outlines of factories and empty riverbeds. – Posted by Emma

September
1st
2011

16,000 Kilometre Photo


16,000 kilometre photo

The 16,000 kilometre photo was taken in the town of Foping, China on 1st September 2011. In an area with 0.4 pandas per square kilometre we were lucky to have three available to pose with us for this monumental photo. To be honest the photo was snapped at 16,012km but we thought the pandas were worth waiting for. Our panda encounters on this day weren’t only with the concrete variety as we unexpectedly had a sighting of a real live panda a few hours earlier. – Posted by Justin

September
4th
2011

Of Pollution And Panda Poop


Of pollution and panda poop

Hectic, noisy, polluted and fast are just a few words to describe our cycling in China to date. Most days see us racing along busy roads where we jostle for space with trucks, grabbing a bowl of noodles in a packed cafe surrounded by staring faces for lunch and then as dusk rapidly falls hunting to find a camp spot or taking a hotel room if all else fails. However we had heard good things about the road between the big city of Xi’an and Chengdu in terms of scenery, peacefulness and interesting cycling so we were eager to get rolling. – Posted by Justin

September
15th
2011

Sichuan Foraging


Sichuan Foraging

With Chinese food a lot more regional than we ever would have guessed (so far no soya sauce, no dim sum and no crispy duck), when we crossed into the Sichuan province just before Guangyuan we suspected dining would get a whole lot more interesting. According to our annotated English map of China the region is known for Sichuan spicy food. By this, we had imagined noodles laced with red hot chilli paste so we thought we’d be able to spot and stop any over-hot food with a polite ‘bushi’ (no, in Mandarin). – Posted by Emma

September
16th
2011

17,000 Kilometre Photo


17,000 kilometre photo

The 17,000 kilometre photo was taken on the outskirts of Ya’an, China on 16th September 2011. We had just turned off the G108 road that we followed almost the whole way through China and onto the G318 that would lead us westwards. You can’t tell from the photo but the traffic was busy as usual although we had ducked onto a quiet footpath for a few hundred metres. – Posted by Justin

September
20th
2011

Breath Of Fresh Air


Breath of fresh air

It takes us 150km to clear Chengdu and the surrounding towns, all merged together in one endless noisy highway. We’re hoping that our salvation will lie in Western Sichuan, rumours of proper mountain passes, pockets of Tibetan culture, Buddhist monasteries and the quiet that we’ve been missing leading us west as fast as we can pedal. – Posted by Emma

September
25th
2011

Raising My Spirits


Raising my spirits

We seem to be the first traffic on the early morning road and enjoy the swishing of the smooth slightly damp asphalt under our tyres. The green fields filled with quietly grazing shaggy yaks rise towards craggy exposed rock and a sky just brightening as the sun climbs skywards. There doesn’t seem to be much that could improve our cycling day other than a big bowl of fresh steaming noodles and that lies just a few kilometres further down the road. Over the coming days asphalt will become but a distant memory while the swishing of tyres will be replaced by muddy squelching. For now though everything is right with our cycling world. – Posted by Justin