Travelreport No. 65 - China 2015 - 6.10. bis 19.11.2015
Chengdu - Kangding - Litang - Xiangcheng - Shangri-La - Dali - Jinghong - Mohan
From Litang southwards we cycle mostly on altitues around 3600 to 4600m. One of the stretches that we like best, is from here to Shangri-La. Tibetan villages with their beautiful houses which look like forts and on top of the passes the colourful tibetan prayer flags. Often we are camping, but the cold does not affect the pleasure to see the sparkling stars at night. In Shangri-La (famous through the film "Lost Horizon), a massive fire swept through the old town in 2014, destroying about 200 of the wooden tibetan-style houses, and now the Chinese are rebuilding the town in traditional style, attracting many tourists.
Another acient city - Lijiang - was destroyed by an earthquake in 1996. And also here the rebuilding was done very clever in the old style, so it is a tremendous magnet for chinese tourism. Every year there are more than 8 million tourists, mostly Chinese, visiting this town (when we visited in the year 1989 it was a village!). When strolling through the little alleys with small watercanals and bridges, together with tousands of Chinese tourists, passing souvenir shops, restaurants, discos, it feels like beeing on a funfair.
Dali is a similar experience, the tourists are driven around in electro-cars or are guided through town by traditional dressed Dai-women. The city lies beautiful between the mountains and we like the historic flair.
A sleeper bus takes us in 14 hours from the mountains down winding roads to the tropics, to the modern city of Jinghong where the Mekong river also passes through. For the first time we can get rid of our long underpants and change to shorts. And what a wonderful feeling to sit outside without shivering.
Along the Mekong on gravel road, through primary jungle, it is relaxing cycling until we get back on the main road. It is hard to go for cyclists through several long tunnels (3km) with a lot of fumes to breath in and with no light at all. But the landscape with its endless banana- and rubber-plantation on the rolling hills is spectacular. Unfortunately also here highways are beeing built, so when reaching the border-city of Mohan our bodies and cycles are very dusty. We stayed over night in town, because we wanted to eat once more the delicious Chinese food, and in the morning, the mouthwatering Jiaotze and Baotze were to be enjoyed once again. Oh, how we love the Chinese food. Before crossing the border to Laos, we intended to change money on the road and got cheated with false money. Well, we nearly made it to become millionaires, but with 300'000 false money (too bad we did not remember how Laos money looks like) it did not work out.