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February 21, 2012
May 8, 2011
You both have given me some great words of advice and wisdom. It’s the generosity of strangers that always keeps me moving forward.
February 10, 2011
Purchased the plane ticket for myself and my bike to Taiwan. Jason and I are cycling this gem of a country, um…I mean “province”. It should be pretty simple and straightforward.
I’ve also recently acquired a 10″ netbook for my travels. Finally I’ll be able to edit RAW and upload them for you to see. Along with loading up Google Earth and maps and Lonely Planet Guides that just add extra weight.
January 24, 2011
I’m on a couple message groups for cycle touring. I can’t quite figure out why people don’t start researching border crossings before they begin their tour. It’s almost once a month I see cyclists planning on getting to India via Tibet.
I keep my ears and eyes open to the interwebs and it’s still practically impossible. I got a report from one fellow American, Charlie Wittmack that is traveling the globe via cycling, swimming, or running. He made it across SUPPORTED with local guides, lots of permits, still getting refused passing at points, and a LOT of money.
If I read another post from someone saying we are cowards, not in those exact terms, for “not trying” and that it is part of the adventure…..I’m going to throw my bike at them. As you sit in the USA/Europe planning your excursion through Tibet…finding “roads” on Google Maps…..it’s NOT possible without a whole ton of “guanxi” and even more money.
What I don’t get is that China is so big with about 52 minority ethnic groups and absolutely gorgeous places to go without a fight with officials. So, gently set your ago down, not on the drivetrain side, and come back to reality with the rest of us post 2007 cyclists. If you’ve never been to China you haven’t learned that they aren’t like your friendly American officer that rescues kittens from trees, helps old ladies cross the street, and all those other glorious stereotypes.
Of course every cyclist wants to go to Tibet, and it’s usually always a destination in the VERY early planning. Maybe it’s worth a try from some, but I have a desirable work Visa and would love to have opportunities to return to China. Maybe if you really don’t care, then you can try to be “the one”. But if you only have a 3 month Visa, be careful if you getting turned back at check stops.
This is my snarky post for the next couple months. I’ll have a better attitude next time. I promise.
January 7, 2011
…Mongolia I have been wrestling with myself. (Mongolians like to wrestle too).
A half a kilometer before crossing from China to Mongolia, it had been difficult. One thing after the next. It seemed THAT NOTHING went the way it was suppose to. I know you should prepare for incidents like this…but seriously, never in my life had there been days after days of everything just down right sucking!
(I would have more photos but since that camera was stolen I’m missing some stuff).
We tried to ride North from Zamyn Udd but the road disappeared – literally. I had been warned to NOT FOLLOW jeep/motorcycle tracks as they can lead you nowhere, or your death. After attempting to talk to two truck drivers (from big Russian-wheelers), one woman, and a young girl in a pink silk dress – we asked them about the roads and he just pointed towards Zamyn Udd spreading his arms back and forth horizontally. (I understood this as saying the roads are everywhere).
This is where we tried to hitch hike.
Looking South towards China:
Looking North towards Ulan Bator (where we wanted to go):
This little girl was spending the afternoon before the Sand/Wind storm blew in throwing rocks at a horse.
We met some great people. Thank god this little fellow could speak Mandarin and Mongolian. We may actually owe our lives to him.
They make ‘em stronger in the North.
We did finally make it to Ulan Bator, which was a complete fiasco and nightmare. And where I killed my budget getting back to China.
After a couple of days of finding maps, talking with people, weighing the pros and cons. We did set out on a very cold and windy morning. We passed truck after truck coming from the West, loaded sky high with dog? pelts.
It was so windy, barely making it at 8km/hour. I was extremely sluggish (I ended up getting really sick that night). It was gorgeous but I was freezing, slow, and just feeling really dogged. Jason rode ahead of me but returned when he noticed I was not near.
We stood on the side of the road and watched a storm roll in. Storms on the plains are amazing…this isn’t an uncommon experience. You can see it in the distance and time it for duck and cover. You can also get an idea how long it’s going to last. This is where I sat, looking out, and made the decision to head back to China. And this is the exact place where my dreams fell apart. Take a note of the road conditions…um, I mean jeep tracks.
I’ve longed for Mongolia for years now. There is something about the stories, the photos, everything…that has drawn me to this land. Well, needless to say, it gave me a really good ass kicking. Jason built his bike frame so I was also concerned about his bike holding up, along with his 25kg limit aluminum racks. Do I regret turning back, probably not…but I regret trying to go North West when I would be face to face with wind. And I’m talking about a wind you probably have NEVER experienced.
I think of Mongolia AT LEAST once a day and it’s usually when I’m lying in bed recounting my rotations and playing the “what if” game.
So, I threw out the idea to my pen pal, Ed, of the Torugart Pass from China into Kyrgyzstan. I’m playing with the idea of just heading out of China and pass through the K’stans to get back into the North West side of Mongolia. I could at least have a hell of a tailwind to Ulan Bator. Can I handle eating all the boiled lamb…probably not. But I think I could handle the non existent roads, and it will be a hell of a lot easier to hitch hike as a solo cyclist. I just can’t be defeated and maybe I’ll get to see Lake Baikal after all.
One of my ideas was to catch a train in China to get to Lhasa. But yeah, sounds like a super touristy place. If you know me in the bit least…you know I go in the opposite direction of tourists. So, what would I do once I get to Lhasa? Go to India…then where? I’m kind of getting stopped in those tracks…so it’s to the K-stans. From there…I don’t know. That Russia Visa is a pain in my butt!!!! I may have some guanxi to use for this.
So now I’m thinking of doing a circuit into Ulan Bator or heck…just go to Europe.
Please stay tuned as I’ll be back on the saddle in about 2 months. Just got my Visa renewed for another year…that’s the most important thing right now.