30.04.2014 - 01.05.2014 20 °C
We arrived at Bike Asia at 9am and met our guide Sam (from Yunnan province) and the other members of our group- a German couple and a mum and two daughters from Perth.
We set off through town and then out into the countryside. At a junction we were given the option of an easy ride, go left, or a more challenging ride, go right. I asked Sam for his honest opinion after observing our bike skills so far. The easy option was suggested.
It was still challenging
- cycling along a busy highway and having to cut across traffic at a traffic light (I think it was the only traffic light in Yangshuo) in which truck drivers and bus drivers pretty much ignore.
- narrow raised paths where losing your balance meant ending up in a rice paddy. Unfortunately one of our party managed to miss a rice paddy but ended up falling in a ditch saved by a thorny shrub. It took a while to get the thorns out.
- then to add more of a challenge, narrow raised paths with big unexpected rocks, for the inexperienced mountain biker meant one wrong turn= rice paddy.
- protective mother cows with babies on the paths.
- growling dogs in villages
- flat areas beside rivers with recent rain had turned into expansive mud puddles. I quickly learned that you have to speed up not slow down in those.
- cycling with a hard narrow seat. I think I am still recovering.
Anyway it was pretty awesome, we had a challenge, got really muddy, cycled 46 km (the most I have ever done) and got to see rural China plus a few old bridges.
Fuli Bridge (?)
The next day I headed off by myself as Sandra had caught a bug from one of her work mates. It was not overcast like the previous day, Yangshuo was now hot, humid and sunny. Obviously that aided the views but it was not ideal hill cycling weather. I wanted to head to Xing Ping which was around 36km away. Armed with a map, some directions, and an emergency phone number, I headed out. I arrived at the same junction as the day before and turned right. Yikes.
Will (the English manager of Bike Asia) had told me that if I didn't make it up the first 1.5 km hill I was to turn back. Well I made it up the first hill, but when I decided I could travel faster on foot than on the bike, I got off and walked. I got up the next 4.5km hill with a few stops so decided it was ok to go on. The rest of the hills were ok, mostly steep up with long downhills.
Most of the time I was the only person on the road. It was brilliant. Mandarin orchards and karst hills.
That sign meant I was on the right track. 21 km down.
Big pile of dung for the mandarins.
The map combined with Will's directions was not good enough. I overshot the ferry crossing by about 3 km and I managed to use all my China phone credit calling Will. Anyway I made it in the end. The old village part of Xing Ping was pretty nice, probably nicer still if it wasn't a Chinese National Holiday ( the place was packed to the rafters), but the best part was the challenge getting there.
On the boat crossing the river to Xing Ping