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Old 08-26-2010, 02:10 AM   #1
franki OP
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Hong Kong
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China, Tibet - The closest place to heaven & closer to God

It has been since 2004 that I have visited Tibet. I did touch Tibet when I was in Cawarong (near Yunnan) in 2009 but I was there only for a day and had to back track due to dangerous road condition; which was too risky for me to push ahead with my JH600 weighting in at around 250kg fully loaded. At the point of turning back, I made a promise to myself that I shall return in 2010 with a smaller bike. I did, a Galaxy XTR250 made in Guangdong, China.

After a 10,000km ‘test ride’ from Yunnan, China into Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and back to Yunnan, the bike has passed the initial endurance test. I think I have built up enough confidence to take this bike to the extreme condition. Or at least I have enough understand of the capability of this bike to attempt such an adventure.

Yes, after the test ride, the bike is now ready for a long trip in Tibet!

The Route – Plan A, to follow the old route I took in 2009 which is starting from Kunming, Chuxiong, Dali, Jianchuan, Liuku, Gongshan into Cawarong (Tibet) and Zayu…see map to show general route. The highlight of this trip should be Cawarong – Zayu, Metog, the Ali northern Route (including Wenbu’s sacred lake and mountain of the old Xiangxiong Empire), Pulan, Zada (the ancient Empire of Guge), enter Nepal via Zhangmu to make a road trip, north face Himalaya base camp and of course Lhasa, capital of Tibet. Most of the roads ridden inside Tibet from dirt road, dirt tracks to no road at all. Highest altitude reached was 5,400m ASL (17,712 feet).

Here is a route map showing our intended route in Chinese before our departure. It gives a general idea of where we are going. I shall try to have an English version made at a later date as I am no expert in map making.

Here is a map of Asia and highlight of where Tibet is

Here is our route map in English
Attached Images

franki screwed with this post 09-15-2010 at 01:58 AM
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:43 AM   #2
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Keep going!

FarRider #332.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:56 AM   #3
franki OP
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Jonathan (AKA Boundless Traveller) is now working in Beijing, so we met up in Kunming to pick up our bikes and started to head north. We were told the road from Cawarong to Chayu was blocked due to avalanche since last Oct. It was very difficult to know if it is cleared prior to our departure. Thanks to our biker friends in Yunnan who make many phone calls to near by villages and we got confirmation when we arrived in Dali that it is still blocked by new avalanches just a couple of days before. So we had to switch to Plan B. We kept riding north to Jianchuan stayed for the night there and moved towards Weixi. We found a road sign just before reach Weixi that the whole road following the famous Lanchangjiang (down stream is called Mekong River) leading towards Deqing is closed for road construction. It only opens from Sat. morning to Sunday morning for public access. We thought we were very lucky as we were there Sat. afternoon. But as soon as we entered the road under construction, we realized that we can only move 50kmh. The road is extremely bumpy with mud up to 12 inches deep. We could only followed the tracks made by heavy trucks and take whatever is thrown at us. By sundown, we rode about 150km and were totally exhausted. We decided to check ourselves into a hostel next to a gas station to give us a bit of rest and the first meal of the day. We were also considering turning back the next day and take the route into Szechuan via Shangri-la. Got up 6:30am and changed our mind, we rode forward and hope that the road will not be blocked for the next 250km. Against our wishful thinking, we were blocked by many road blocks due to dynamite area, construction vehicle convoy moving in or avalanche caused by road construction. We tried to take detours by riding small village tracks, construction bypasses. The road condition turned from worse to worst. The suspension bottomed out many times and the rocks hit my chain guide slider next to the rear sprocket several times. But we are making head way. By 4pm, we were only 50km from Deqing and only 20km more of construction site, I came to a haul when I saw the road was completely blocked by thousands of tons of rocks and dirt. After talking to the worker who was drilling dynamite holes into the cliff, they we about to set off another charge which will blocked us off complete in the middle of nowhere. Without staying one more minute, we turned back about 3km and found a wire bridge that allow motorbike to cross over to a small Tibetan village and stayed for the night. We were there for 5 days….

Note: some of the photos taken with a Canon 5D MK II are from Jonathan

As a Chinese, can't start a long RR without having something in the stomach first

Getting our bikes serviced before we start

Another group of riders from Guangxi also arrived in Chuxiong and stayed in the same hotel. Some of them I have met when I was travelling through Guangxi back in 2008.

A hot pot dinner was hosted by our good machanic friend in Chuxiong

Saying goodbye to our friends before starting off

Dali, one of my favourite city in Yunnan

We ran into the same Guangxi group again on the first day and they have been riding for 2 days. Big group go slow

When Chinese people meet, we make party like this

We got up late the next day and decided to ride a little bit before seeing a farm house and went in for breakfast.

There they are again, waiting for a lost rider. I guess we are stuck with them - faith

The sky turned dark as we moved into the mountains and soon rain started.

This is the only road sign we saw telling road constructions ahead. The only time vehicles are allowed to go through is Sunday. Yes, once a week. And this day was Sunday!

franki screwed with this post 09-06-2010 at 08:17 AM
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Old 08-26-2010, 03:25 AM   #4
franki OP
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This is the beginning of the road construction and there are 400 km to go

The road gets muddier as we moved along and down the slope there was very little traction. Another one bites the dust

Even being careful our feet soon look like this

The scenery was beautiful but the ride was very slippery

Whenever the rain stopped, I took my camera out to shoot some photos.

Yes, I am a poser

As mush as we wanted to move forward, the many landslides blocked our way. We tried to climb over them, make detours to bypass them and also beg the road construction crew to use they bulldozer to clear some for us, we were still making very slow progress.

Clearing one section of the landslides

By night fall, we only managed 110km into the road construction zone. So we stopped and trying to wash off some of the mud on the bike which is very harmful to the drive train.

Candle light dinner? The gas station we stayed in has no power in the night, so we have to settle for a romantic ambiance

franki screwed with this post 08-26-2010 at 06:06 AM
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:47 AM   #5
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Hey that´s some unusual terrain!

Are the bikes any good? They sure look like KTM copies.

Keep it coming
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:04 AM   #6
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Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing. Bring it on. ;-)

A '00 KLR 650 40,000 miles, A '07 1250S 74,000 , A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 78,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:13 AM   #7
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Fantastic - another Franki RR!

As usual, mouthwatering places, food, and photography
'You like motorcycles, beer, and ladies. I'm afraid I have the same illness' - Thierry.
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:59 AM   #8
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Another Franki RR. Keep it coming.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:00 AM   #9
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Franki you're a legend! I love reading these China ride reports. Not very much exposure on ADV since its such a pain in the ass getting bikes into China. The food shots make me jealous, so good and cheap the food is over there. Looking for more to come.

2010 - DC to Gaspé, QC
2008 - DC to Panamá
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:12 AM   #10
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:11 PM   #11
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Have fun!

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Old 08-26-2010, 12:50 PM   #12
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Cho san Frankie.
nice ride report.
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Old 08-26-2010, 03:26 PM   #13
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Welcome back!
Looking good on the lighter enduro bike.
Now you mentioned you did the test ride
in Lao and Thailand we need to see the
ride report for that trip also.
Thank you for posting, I am all excited!

(San Diego)
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:38 PM   #14
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this awaits you when you get to Everest base camp

Roads leading to Everst Base Camp

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Old 08-26-2010, 07:55 PM   #15
franki OP
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Originally Posted by lowbudget
Hey that´s some unusual terrain!

Are the bikes any good? They sure look like KTM copies.

Keep it coming

Yiu will see more unusual terrain later on in this RR.

The bike does look like KTM but not the performance However, it did finish the job given with some hickups .

Stay tuned....
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