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Last journey in China and summary of the past 12 months

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Yesterday's weather forecast was correct. It's raining cats and dogs. „Stay one more day, you will become absolutely wet“, says a Chinese lady at the reception. „Tomorrow we become as wet as today, we have to go“, answers Tanja friendly.


As we sit on our bikes the strong rain of the night changes into a drizzle. The place hardly lies behind us when we follow a narrow mountain road. After a few kilometres it goes easily downhill. Heavy clouds swallow every now and then whole mountain ranges and make us in addition switch on the front lights and back lights. The view is sometimes so limited that we are made go in step tempo. Suddenly I see before myself a dark silhouette hardly to be perceived. „Wow! A water buffalo! There is a water buffalo in the middle of the street!“ I shout startled, because I am certain trucks and cars are not as slow as we driving would probably see the big animal to late. A rice farmer in ragged clothes walks about 10 metres behind his animal and chases it with loud calls the mountain pass upwards. A few kilometres farther the clouds burst and release the view of subtropical vegetation. The deeper we reach, the more warmly and more sultrily it becomes. The streets are wet, however, from the strong rain we remain up to now skipped. Gigantic banana plantations stretch about the ridges. Deeply in the valley there rushes the yellowish-brown water of a river about coarse rocks. The luxuriant green of the fascinating world of the tropics seems to explode in all nuances. Poor farmers live in simple houses. I view a man playing on a peculiar flute. A plaintive sound joins with twittering the birds. It looks in such a way as if he swore to a gigantic snake winding to his feet about the wet ground. Then I recognise the big brown tree root before he sits. In some of the houses men crouch together around water whistle to smoke. A woman begins singing a song, children shriek and play with a broken tyre. Again China offers us another side of itself, till now we did not experience the tropics on our present journey yet.

On the next, endless-long downhill driving I become a little bit melancholy. I see on my speedometer. 50 km it goes already downhill and even the next 52 km lie before us till we reach the border town Hekou. To me it is consciously that we now have the last kilometres in China before us. Actually I do not like to leave this fascinating country. Already 20 years ago we crossed for 1000 km the Taklamakan desert, also called the desert of death. At that time the population was not very openly for individual travellers. We had made some bad experience and so respect before this country and even a little fear. To cross the country with E-bikes was undoubtedly one of the best ideas which we had during the last years. However, it was absolutely worthwhile strenuous. The friendliness and auxiliary readiness of the Chinese has surprised us. The country has conquered our hearts, with its contrasts, the inexpressible variety, the millennia - long culture and the raving progress. Not one day was like the other. The nature is absolutely incredible and often breathtaking nice. That our mother earth is so much destroyed here makes us very sad and we really hope and pray people all over the world connect and get more aware of the importance to safe our wonderful planet. For 9 months we have travelled around the country of the middle, the country of the dragon intensely, the last kilometres really lie before us now, although we have seen only one fraction of it. In a view days this China journey is coming to an end.

Suddenly my thoughts wander at the beginning of this trip, at a time which feels so as it belongs to another life. I remember as doubtfully I faced at first the whole enterprise of an E-bike expedition. Electric motor, accumulators, board computers do not sound first thus as they belong in a bicycle. Above all nobody knew whether this technology would stand firm to a hard expedition everyday life. Nevertheless Tanja and I have been confidently to break new ground with this absolutely new way of a world journey by E-bikes. There were no experience values about such an enterprise and one could also not investigate in the net.

After we have driven during the past years 15,000 km with normal bikes from Germany till Mongolia, 11 countries crossed, we wanted to continue where we had stopped the last spot. Because we like Siberia a lot, we have begun our trip there once more. We travelled the past 12 months approx. 10,000 km with the trans-Siberian railway, biked for 300 km a little piece of Siberia, 1,200 km Mongolia and the desert Gobi up to the Chinese border. From there we went approx. 5,500 km through China and cycled the provinces internal Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan. Up to now we covered approx. 44,000 metres height (approx. 5 times on the Mount Everest) and all together approx. 7,000 km. (counting from Siberia, without train journey)

To create everything without support or escort vehicle, so called "By fairly means", is for us a basic requirement. This was already a prerequisite on my first expedition to the Auca Indians in the Amazon headwaters in Ecuador. The original thought lies in the farthest sense to travel as the discoverers and researchers it the early days. An expedition trip, while one must look nearly after everything self-reliant, has quite an other dimension. Of course every trip is to be looked under different points of view. There is a big difference whether to cross a desert with camels or a country with the E bike.

To undertake a world trip by E-bike without escort vehicles, as ecologically as possible, assumes a clean energy management. That means, we have to calculate every day the kilometres lying before us, consider height meter, street and weather conditions.The most important factor is how far one can come with the achievement of the accumulators under the conditions. Weather there is a possibility to recharge on the way, when there is bad weather and no sunray on our solar panels. But also by the best advance planning can occur a mistake and in life we can not everything foresee. There is always the unknown, however and exactly the unknown can put out the charm and the adventure of such a trip. If something goes wrong during such an enterprise basically it is asked to act. There is no help in “putting the head into the sand”. Only a chill head brings constructive ideas out in such situations needed. We have learnt during our expedition travelling, that there is always and for everything a solution.

But even if we reject an escort vehicle or help from outside, we adapt ourselves to the rapid progress. With which I mean, that we every now and then let sent wearing parts with the modern post or courier's service to an agreed place. Also we use a GPS system to be able to ascertain our respective Location and a map programme to find the right road. Sometimes we use the Internet to find a lodging possibility for us, accepting our bikes and our dog, so that if we come late in the evening in a town are not rejected.

When we explore countries for ourselves, like during the topical trip, with the E-bike, we look up guide books for places of interest and highlights. Also we find out more by internet or by tips of the population. In this way we do not drive past by mistake a world sensation. In the course of our travel life it has already happened.

Among the rest, an important point is the language. If we stay longer in a country, we try to learn the language at least rudimentary before the travel begins.

Thus we have studied during our Germany stays some semester Russian and Chinese. A few spoken sentences and verbiage always help and open the doors to people.

Now, sitting on my bike, I can smile about the memory when the Russians evicted us out of the train. Because we owned no transit visa for Byelorussia we had the first time since our expedition travelling started a real false start. However, then it has worked with the second approach and I think with joy back of the first week in the trans-Siberian railway. The journey by the woods of the endless taiga was an unforgettable experience. When we swung ourselves then, not far from lake Baikal, on the saddles, the first few hundred kilometres everything ran perfectly, although it had approx. 40 degrees in the shade in Siberia and we had to overcome many mountain ranges.

And then Mongolia with the width, the everlasting blue sky, the gigantic horse herds, the wandering nomads who took us into a long forgotten time. But also the merciless desert Gobi with the heat, the camel herds and the nights in the Mongolian tents will always remain as miraculous recollections. There the adventure already began, because we had to go with a scorching heat and headwind of the strength 7 (approx. 50 km/h), and had to put back distances from up to 130 km to come to drinking water. There our survival suddenly depended on the reliability of the Bosch motors. In such a situation the fun stops. There it is about the naked skin. The motors worked thank God well and brought us reliable by the dry Gobi desert.

However, this was only the beginning. The weather changed in autumn, why we were put out to the ice-cold storms. Then the winter held north China in an iron clutch. Would the accumulators still function at below 20 degrees generally? This made me really think. And, yes, we came through the lithium ion accumulators did not let us down only once. From this time on this technology had fully persuaded me. However, now the mountains became more and more relentless. Up to 3,300-metre height lay down in our way. There passed not a single day without we had to cross mountain ranges and iced up rivers. It was a challenge of superlatives for person and technology. Who wants to freeze to death at below 20 degrees on a mountain height because the technology lets one down? The technology did keep up well.

Also the last 1,000 km in South China stretched about alpine sceneries. At the moment many of the mountain roads of our trip were under construction and had nothing commonly with a road. These were grit tracks and mucky runways in sections they reminded of ploughed up fields. It was a hard and dangerous undertaking to steer our heavy loaded bikes with trailer, about runways made soft by the strong rain, through countless deep road holes and 10 to 20 m long and deep puddles. Above all it was tough because of the traffic, the heavy loaded trucks which hardly allowed space to a cyclist. If then one more thunderstorm transformed the subsoil into a slide road because the tyre profile pressed itself in few seconds with loam, such journeys were comparable almost with a suicide mission.

But these were not the only dangerous situations. I will never forget when a passenger car took my right of way. I was driving approx. 45 or 50 km/h down a good asphalted mountain road when the car drove from the parking bay onto the street without paying attention. In China it is as well as in completely Asia, the bigger always has priority.

In this case I did not have the slightest chance to make a way around the collision. The results would have been surely bad. Maybe I have the impact avoided by a full braking? Maybe so because I let go the brake shortly before the impact once more and I went past by a light movement to the left to the bumper? Maybe it was just a luck or divine ray? At the end I remained unscathed what to a miracle resembled. I am grateful for it even today.

One of the biggest menaces meant for us the immense truck traffic in the province of Shanxi. In winter drive on these roads thousands and thousands of trucks loaded with coal. We were for weeks in the middle of it. The only thing what helped was to keep calm and to draw the attention with front and tail light, also during the day, to us. If the stress level became too high for us, we took short breaks to reach again in to own strength and to preserve the necessary concentration ability.

Another big challenge have been iced up mountain ranges. Above all if we had to drive down to a valley from a mountain height. We tried not to drive downhill in the early morning, because there it was especially cold. At especially critical places we were forced to push the bikes above the dangerous ice surfaces. Even pushing was not always the solution, because with the braking the tyres simply slipped away. However, at last we had a lot of luck, just like with the countless up to four-km-long unlit tunnel journeys. The challenges of the present trip were big and the linked in adventure with it were unforgettable. Even if it was sometimes not easy I would like to miss no day. Above all the way of travelling with a bike gives immense pleasure and freedom to us. We can stop where we want and remain where we want. We travel relatively slowly and get in this manner into the depth of every country. We breathe mother earth and are a part of her with wind, cold and sunshine. Thus we get in narrow contact with the population. Understand more about their way of life, are presented by hospitality and friendship. To travel with the E-bike has taken for us a big value. Although we are supported by an electric motor, we must exert our bodies, above all with the countless metres height we are cycling. I think that we get a good workout which is for us as extreme sportsman of high importance. The E bike has moved simply our limits upwards. Above all if one thinks that we move approx. 150 kg per person, including bike and trailers. Because of the live reporting we carry a lot of equipment (cameras, laptop, electricity supply). Also we are equipped for all seasons and camping.

Because we have already put back the distance from Germany to Mongolia with normal bikes, so without E-support, we know the difference and can definitively compare. We know that we could never have taken our big dog and all our equipment without E-support. We travelled more than 43,000 meters of height, just with muscular strength we think it would be not possible.

Since many years we use the bicycle and now the E bike to discover the world as ecologically as possible.

„Denis! Denis? We can take off the rain cloth!“, Tanja takes me out from my contemplation of thought. „Puh it is really very warm“, I say the brakes pulling. „Why have you not answered then? I have called you already a few times.“ „ I was away anyhow completely. To me the past 12 months have raced by the head. Besides, it became conscious by me that we must say goodbye to China in a few days“, I answer a little bit depressed.

„Be happy, for our great time we had in this country.“ „Yes I am, however, I would even stay longer here.“ „I think 9 months are enough. We have got a fantastic impression of China. Moreover, our trip is not to an end. Now Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand lie before us.“ „You are right. We people are sometimes peculiar. First I was afraid of this country and now, after it has taken us up so friendly and I got used to the culture, I would remain with pleasure. Besides, new adventures wait on the other side of the border for us“…

The live reporting is supported by the firms Gesat GmbH: www.gesat.com and roda computer Ltd http://roda-computer.com/ The satellite phone Explorer 300 from Gesat and the rugged notebook Pegasus RP9 from Roda are the supporting columns of the transmission.

Date:
25.05.2016 to 30.05.2016

Day: 333 - 338

Country:
China

Province:
Yunnan

Town:
Hekou

Latitude N:
22°30’32.7’’

Longitude E:
103°57’34.5’’

Daily kilometer:
102 km

Total kilometer:
17.345 km

The crow kilometer:
59.86 km

Average speed:
21.3 km/h

Maximum speed:
57.6 km/h

Driving time:
4:30 h

Ground quality:
asphalt

Maximum height:
1.550 m

Complete height meter since tour start:
42.235 m

Height meter of the day:
686 m

Sunrise:
06:20 a.m.

Sunset:
07:41 p.m.

Temperature day max:
30 °C

Temperature day min:
21 °C

Departure time:
09:00 a.m.

Arrival time:
04:30 p.m.

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