|Bikes and scooters share the chaotic roads in China|
Initially I hoped to be a cycling purist and make my bicycle my only form of transport, but China is far too big and I came to accept that I wasn't going to be able to ride across it in 30 days. From Nanning I purchased an overnight train ticket to Kunming, and realised why I chose my bike as a means of getting around. After checking in my bike and panniers as luggage and getting a separate ticket for myself (and later having to wait 3 hours in Kunming train station to pick up my bike), I was glad I didn't have to catch a train every day. It was a 14 hour trip and I was travelling on the cheap, so of course I didn't get a sleeper, just an upright, crowded seat. The trip wasn't unbearable and I was able to get a bit of shut-eye, but when I arrived in Kunming, I quickly felt my exhaustion.
Kunming had a nice vibe for a big city, the capital of Yunnan province, and I made a mental note that if I ever wanted to return to China to learn Mandarin, that would be where I'd return to. I was staying with a Chinese guy called Hui in his bike shop, so after a bit of extensive detouring (getting lost), I made it to his shop and we chatted about bikes and bike touring and life in general. Hui was passionate about riding and had done tours of his own through Tibet (on a folding bike), and down to Laos, as well as regular rides in China. He told me that he likes travelling and he likes bikes and when he came to Kunming initially he wanted to open up a youth hostel. Apparently it was too hard to find a space for it so he had to settle for his second passion and opened up a bike shop. In a sense he got the best of both worlds by hosting warmshowers guests in his bike shop.
|Inside Hui's Pegasus Bicycle Shop|
|Feeling at home sleeping amongst the bikes for the night|
|Riding into Dali old town from the train station|
|Looking out from my new home in Dali|
|Development happened very quickly in Dali, there were guest houses shooting up everywhere|
|Furu - Chinese vegemite|
In the Dali house I did some juggling, acro yoga and after a 6km ride up a steep cobblestone hill, even got to do some bouldering in a dried up river bed. On my second day there I was craving to get back on the bike, so I pedalled down to Erhai lake and began cycling. It was 120km around the lake, but I thought I'd just go for a short ride. When I got 45km into the ride I was feeling good, so I continued and just rode the rest of the way around the lake. The North and South sides of the lake were quite nice, but the urban areas close to new Dali town weren't very beautiful. The ride around the lake takes you through several villages along the way, and gives you a unique way to slowly admire the lake and its mountainous backdrop from every angle.
|Louis and Dane bouldering in a dried up river bed west of old Dali town|
|Lockie, Louis and Dane scaling some more boulders - too tricky for me to conquer|
|Riding around Erhai Lake|
I slept on a room on the roof of the Dali house, and always woke up early as the sun trickled into my room. It was impossible to sleep in because the world looked so beautiful from up there, that I had to get out and enjoy it.
|Inspecting a new potential home in a village close to Dali|
China day 17: Around Lake Erhai
Distance: 113.2 km
Average speed: 18.3 km/hr
Max speed: 41.3 km/hr
Total ascent: 688 m
Total descent: 702 m