China Trip Report
Bike China “Adventures” was certainly an appropriate name for our China cycling trip. It offered stunning scenery and challenging rides but, if I had to pick one highlight of the journey, it would be “people”… our group was kind, cooperative and fun, the guides and drivers were easy going and helpful even in chaotic situations and the Chinese people were so incredibly friendly and welcoming. Another successful trip, thank you, Max!
For the trip report, I asked participants to write 3-4 lines with their impressions. Their responses follow:
Not for the timid!
2019 Cycling Rural Yunnan Province: the southern most province of China bordering North Vietnam and Cambodia. As you can see the challenging terrain was mountainous and remote. Truly more of a daily adventure than a pleasurable cycle. The adventure was in the mountains marrying the cultivated tea, banana, rice and mandarin plantations, unusual interesting foods (like what is it?) and interaction with the Hunan mountain villager. Chinese people everywhere were very kind, thoughtful and gentle. Zero English spoken, lots of pantomime or calling for our 3 Chinese speaking guides. Accommodation was varied from ultramodern designed architecture to musty hard-bed hovels.
I will remember the friendliness of the rural Chinese to us. Kids practicing their hello and goodbyes then giggling to themselves or offering stools for us to sit. I will also recall their roll up your sleeves and get to work attitude – women carrying loads, men repairing machinery roadside, collecting and sorting the trash or the masses (and leaving much of it roadside). Theirs is an enduring culture. I will also fondly recall the bonding of our group.
I was most impressed with the friendliness of the people here in China, and with the great community spirit in villages large and small. Every time I gave a smile, I got a bigger one in return – even if the recipient looked grumpy to begin with. The group activities – dancing, fitness circuits, market stalls – seemed to be enjoyed by all, not least of all our participants.
The beautiful scenery left me awe-struck many times, as did the volume of trash along our routes. A bit of a surprise after the almost over-the-top neatness of Kunming with its many street cleaners.
Yunnan Province represents only 4% of China’s total land area. I’m glad we’ve able to see just a little is bit of this huge country. Here are my impressions:
Cycling the mountain and valley roads carefully selected by Larry of Bike China Adventures was a delight! In one day you see massive highway bridge projects, watch farmers working age-old riverside garden plots and experience warm smiles, waves and friendly “Hellos!” of school children. There is gentleness about the Yunnan people as the reach toward their future. Altered landscapes abound.
Will nature “accept” the reach for prosperity of China’s 1.4 billion people?
Despite getting sick, I had a good, overall experience. The hardworking strength of the people, especially the women is inspiring. The people are generally kind and friendly, once you greet or smile at them, you almost always get a friendly greeting back. I found their abuse of the environment terrible. From air and water pollution, plus their habit of throwing garbage anywhere, its sad to see how they are destroying the planet. I can only hope they change their ways before it is too late.
For our trip, I believe having a female guide was a blessing. She gave us a feminine caring we would otherwise not get, and it was much appreciated.
I have been impressed by the down to earth industriousness and warm hearted friendliness of the people we have seen and met along the way. Being ‘curiosities’ ourselves is always fun too!
It seems everything is under construction or under cultivation. And at times this distracts from the natural beauty of the place, and at others it contributes to it.
The riding itself has provided some ascent challenges, some spectacular descents and lots of scenery along the way.
Thanks to Max and Judy for offering this cycling tour of Yunnan Province. I enjoyed the great camaraderie of my fellow CCCTS riders, the friendliness of the Chinese people, the experience of the Chinese culture and the many ethnic groups, the awe inspiring scenery, and the feeling of accomplishment after each day’s challenging route. I’ve already forgotten about the bad roads, no shoulders, road construction, busy traffic, Asian Toilets, hard beds, steep and long climbs and frequent warning signs we did not understand. Cycle touring is a time to discover, make new friends, and experience life differently than what we are accustomed to and we certainly did that on our wonderful trip thru Yunnan Province.
Definitely not for the faint of heart!
I was surprised by the kindness, honesty and friendliness of the Chinese people. So many people had questioned me as to why I was going to China at this time (with regards to the political situation). Traveling is about breaking down barriers and gaining a new understanding of the people.
Cycling was challenging but rewarding. It was so refreshing to travel in a region where western tourists are an oddity.
Amazed how little English on signs and spoken. Delighted by the excitement of people to see us cycling and enjoying their country. Impressed with the drivers who share the road and give way no matter the horsepower. Thrilled to be in such an undiscovered region of China and the world.
Immersion into the Chinese culture with strange sights, sounds and smells. The cycling was an added bonus, through the mountains and valleys of the Yunnan region. The trip was organized and well supported (except for the flight back to Kunming). People of all ages and cycling abilities found it challenging.
One morning as we walked through town to the market area, elementary school children were everywhere. We soon found ourselves sitting on the usual short stools, eating our breakfast of dumplings (meat or vegetable) and noodles, with these children. They were so interested in us (foreigners) as we all came together for the same reason, to eat breakfast. They soon grabbed their backpacks and quilts and were off to school as we returned to our bikes for another day of great cycling. Many waved to us as we all left.
On our last day, the sound of the birds brought on a tranquil feeling of peacefulness as the hillsides of rubber trees stood in magnificent splendor against the bright blue skies on our final downhill of 20km. We rounded a corner and out of nowhere appeared the architectural masterpiece of the city of Jinghong. What an amazing way to end our inaugural tour of China!
Like home there are lots of eyes on cell phones, most cars are new SUV’s.
Unlike home we were a novelty. People were friendly despite an inability to chat. Drivers gave us space. The sheer volume of everything from people, vegetation, truck traffic, construction, concrete, mountains and s curves was mind boggling.
The food chosen for us by Larry, Yang Yang and Wen Chun was delicious and their support was both cheerful and solid.
It has been a memorable tour in absolutely beautiful Yunnan.