Day Nine: Yangshuo to Wuzhou

Tourism is coming to south west China, but only in small doses for the moment. Here is a prime example of someone offering a service to westerners. Coffee! Pizza! But it was closed when the above image was taken at 7.30 this morning. Don’t they know that travellers are early risers!

Yangshuo4

Yangshuo3

The views over the rooftops is magical with the early morning mist and clouds hanging in the air waiting to be burnt away as the sun puts its hat on.

We had close on 300kms to cover today and John was keen to get cycling as much of it was realistically possible taking into account time and his aching knees which had become an issue over the past few days from sitting in the back of the car sometimes for hours during transit periods. So we agreed an early start and left Yangshuo at 8.15 and were able to set the boys free on their bikes by 0900hrs starting at a popular location for leisure cyclists to ride along the road on their own or in groups and on tandems. This is the only occasion we have seen cyclists out on the roads other than a couple of long distance cyclists seen along the way who were probably heading for Tibet and beyond.

FullSizeRender 65

So a good three hours and about 40 miles were covered before lunch in a cafe on the national 321 road to Wuzhou and what a fab lunch of bass, pork, rice, green beans and vegetable soup. John said he fancied some ice cream and as there was none in the cafe, the owner got on his scooter and went down the road returning about five minutes later with two large tubs of vanilla! Amazing service! Back on the bikes at 2.30 and the plan was to cycle for the next three hours and then consider time and distance to our destination. Unfortunately John’s knees were becoming increasingly tight and very painful in particular his left knee which because of his Parkinsons down his right side of his body, the left leg will sometimes carry the majority of workload to compensate for the right legs inability to perform. So in order not to aggravate further the injury the cycling was stopped for the day and we continued with the four of us in the car arriving at our hotel in Wuzhuo at 7pm.

FullSizeRender 67

The view from our rooms on the 14th floor of the Wuzhou Hotel over the river.

You can see more of the day’s journey by visiting the video here;

https://vimeopro.com/nonesuchemedia/gonecycling/video/229287784

Day 10: Wuzhou to Guangzhou

We were meant to have journeyed to Guangning on Day Nine but that would have been 50kms further down the road and John’s knees sitting in the car wouldn’t bear this, so we stopped at Wuzhou. Which turned out to be a real bonus. Our hotel was only a few metres from the River Xijiang so John and Mark after breakfasting at Macdonalds

Day10i

strolled along the promenade watching the playground dancing and the fishing house boats at the waters edge bring in their catch.

Day 10f

We said goodbye to the town at 8.30 and headed east following the Xijiang River. John’s bike had had front brake issues over the past couple of days so Alex had sourced through his bike club a stockist in town to replace the complete front brake assembly and he fitted it to be ready for John to use. What amazing service! Alex runs a cycle and motor bike retail business and has an online cycle blog of over 200 members around Yunnan province sharing their experiences of living with bikes and touring to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Leisure cycling is becoming very popular in China. Mostly mountain bikes but road will follow as a couple of Chinese riders have joined the pro road racing teams doing the European circuit such as Tour de France and therefore the publicity provokes interest.

The boys cycled much of the morning along peaceful and well laid roads with views over the river and covered good ground at a fast pace. John’s left knee had given concern overnight as it was throbbing and aching probably from a ligament injury and he had bandaged it for support. The cycling didn’t make it worse but it was an issue, the bandage support was removed as this was a hinderance. The temperature rose to about 38c as we approached mid-day so an early lunch was called for in a market town and we arrived as the chickens were being weighed at two stalls all of which was caught on video much to the interest of onlookers.

Day10n

Yet again we were the focus of attention with the market stall holders wanting to be caught on camera as they waved and shouted hellos. The friendliness found throughout this trip has been wonderful! Lunch was typical; fresh fish from the river, fresh boiled chicken from around the corner, vegetable soup greens and rice. As we left the restaurant the owner and his extended family wanted photos taken of John and Mark with the owner. They, as always obliged. They are celebrities!

Back on the bikes for further kms to be chewed and consumed in the afternoon heat and good progress was made and after a couple of hours it was back in the car as we approached Guangzhou. The idea was to drive into the city and dispatch the riders 10kms before the hotel so could film them arriving. Er, no. Not to be.

Guangzhou is the third largest Chinese city behind Beijing and Shanghai. It has an estimated population of 13.5 million. The road networks into the city areas are a nightmare. The boys cycled for about 10kms on the outskirts with directions being given to them from the car by walkie-talkies, but this turned out to be unsafe due to three and four lane highways, major traffic issues and appalling road manners by the majority of local drivers so the final two hours of the day were spent navigating to the centre of the city on a Friday afternoon rush-hour in 35c. We finally made it to the destination prescribed to the satnav only to find that it had been given the wrong postcode, so back in the car and 35 mins later we arrived at the Vanburgh Hotel. A fitting finale 5 star pad with bedrooms the size of a living room with views over part of the city.

FullSizeRender 72

Dinner was at a local “western restaurant” and pizza, spaghetti bolognaise, green and fruit (!) salads were consumed with perhaps a little too much local beer…

John and Mark said goodbye to Sang and Alex who were driving back to Kunming with the two bikes early on Saturday morning. They had all become close friends through the many adventures over the past 10 days, which seems like a month, we have become so engrossed in it all.

There will be a conclusion page to follow but for now we are pausing for breath and reflection on a truly amazing journey.

Video will be added to the blogs and images to Instagram when we return to the UK.

Thank you for following the blog so far! Au revoir.

To view the last day on video please go here!

https://vimeopro.com/nonesuchemedia/gonecycling/video/229566963