Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BcDano, Jul 19, 2012.
Nice to from a fellow Vancouverite!!! Thanks for the shout out! SP & DP
In 200 m you arrive to the gate to China's border zone control area. The guards checked our visas and told us to wait as some one would come. They also asked Orvar “What is a Sweden?”. They get very few bikes coming thru this border as most foreigners transit in the south west of China.
An hour later we were still waiting and we got out our chairs and a snack. There is a ton of action with vehicles coming and going. Many of the jeeps had “too many” people in them and the guards would make them get out and wait for another jeep or private car to get into to cross the border.
At the 2 hour mark we were getting pretty anxious. Finally the guards came out to talk to us. They stopped a car headed to China with a Mongolian guy in it who spoke English and who asked us for the phone number of our guide. He then stopped a Chinese driver headed north and asked him to use his Chinese cell to make the call. That started the ball rolling and a few minutes later we could see Toni waving from the immigration hall 200 m away and then the guards let us thru.
We parked at the immigration hall and we met the guide Toni, the driver Mr. Tang, the local customs agent/fixer, and the senior police officer who probably was “paid” to streamline the procedure for us. The officer directed us into the immigration hall, asked us to fill out the tourist info cards, and then ushered us to an open agent for our entry stamp.
Then we went back out to the bikes and were told to follow the policeman to the quarantine area about 200 m away around the right side of the immigration hall. We arrived and parked. We did not even have enough time to get off the bikes before the senior officer had talked to the quarantine officer and he said “ you are done with quarantine”.
Next you ride 100 m to the customs inspection. The officer asked Dan what he had in his luggage..clothes, tools, computer, parts…After this there was a discussion between the guide, the policeman, and the customs officer. Our guide said to us “do you all guarantee that there is nothing bad in your luggage?” Like drugs, weapons, or meat. We said YES. Then they did not search anything at all. You then pull ahead 100 m and park under the cover. The customs fixer than steps in and get the process started to import the bikes. He was back in 10 min and we were told to ride around and park by the rainbow! Here we unloaded all the personal gear that was not in the panniers and put it in the driver’s van. The bikes will stay parked here until they clear customs today or tomorrow. All our paper work was submitted 3 days ago, but it is now after 12 on a Friday. The customs office is not technically open on Saturday, but they are making an exception. So we “ may “ get them tomorrow. In hind sight since we were at the border yesterday and the guides were there for 3 days we should have been advised to cross yesterday! Especially as today if Friday!! This error then will cause a cascade of issues….
We then all hoped in the van for a 20 min ride to the hotel. We got cleaned up and went for lunch in the place closest to the hotel. We had amazingly delicious Bbq chicken rice bowls. Finally delicious food with flavor and spice. Well flavor that is NOT GOAT! We have all obtained VPN’s so we can access simple things like google and gmail. We had a team meeting over dinner and some excellent Chinese food ordered by our foody driver Mr. Tang.
It is amazingly quiet in this town and most of the vehicles are electric. There is little “traffic” and the drivers are orderly. We went out for a walk to the main square where they were groups of people dancing and lots of families out strolling.
I'm in. Well come to China ..
Two immigration guards , is Chinese people's armed police border forces.
The peoples dancing (public square dance) , very popular in China.
really looking forward to your impressions of China.
We had a very quiet night with our room on the inner courtyard. We had our first “Chinese” breakfast, which for us is a weird combination of steamed buns, pickled vegetables, and boiled eggs. No coffee of course. They only drink hot water in the north of China. Not even Tea is served here. We had some time to kill as we had not heard from the customs agent and we went over to China mobile to get some SIM cards. It is really only useful for texting for us as North American phones support only E and you can barely open Wikipedia with that. To get a SIM card in China you must register with your passport! Our good luck today was at a place that served fresh beef noodle soup near to the hotel. We westerners managed to eat all the garnish before the soup came and had to ask for more! There are rules here. You do not start eating until they have put 4 dishes on the table. We have a lot to learn.
There was a shop opening across the street and at an auspicious hour they let off a bucket load of fireworks. Then it was back to the hotel to check out before 2 in the hopes that we will get the bikes today.
We are getting a bit concerned since we will have a very long way to go leaving this late in the day. Again Ride China should have known and suggested that arriving on a Friday was not ideal. This was picked at random and we could have easily arrived the day before. We sat about the lobby and at 230 we got the call the bikes are almost done.
At 3 they called back to say we could come and get them so we loaded into the van and headed to the secure border zone. At first the guards did not want to let us in, but after passport checks, some phone calls and discussion they said we could go as long as the same number of people left with us. It was awesome the customs broker agreed to work on Saturday for us. We drove in and got the bikes and Toni said “ lets get out of here before someone changes their mind!”
We are outside the border control zone and the bikes are now officially in China!!
The next order of business was to drive across town to the Drivers license office next to the police station. They are also closed on Saturday, but one of the officers agreed to come over and open it for us so we could be given our Chinese drivers license and so he could check the VIN numbers for the Chinese Plate (this is really just a laminated card representing the license plate). They can make you do tests and eye exams, and even visit a doctor and so we are not sure what to expect. All he did was check the VIN and take a photo of each bike. The only potential problem here is Orvar is too old to drive a motorcycle in China and we held our breath until he was given his license. The only snag was one of the digits on Sara’s VIN number was incorrect. The officer could have said come back Monday, but he let it slide!!! Again we were like the IKEA ad “start the car” get out before they change their mind!
Now were went back to the hotel to gear up and headed out for our 35 days tour thru China.
It was now after 4 pm and we had 349 km to ride to Wulanchabu/Ulanqab and it gets dark at 1830. This is to try and keep to what we now know is an overly ambitious itinerary. (If we were to do it again, we would have skipped the trip to Beijing and used those 6 days to add rest days or shorten long days on the rest of the trip)
These cameras will be everywhere!!!! BUT they are for front plates only
Leaving the city there are several km of dinosaur statures.
About 50 km out there is a police check point where you must get off and walk over to the office where they take a photo of your passport, Chinese plate card, and Chinese drivers license. There are a lot of officers here with big guns. The place is high tech and each officer has a iPad like device to scan Chinese ID cards. Now to get onto the G55 toll highway.
All major roads here are user pay and toll. Bikes are illegal on the highway here. At the first booth there were no other vehicles and they could see us coming for 400 m and so the guy in the booth was out and blocking the lane. We had been told by the guide to go to the far right lane and “ride there”…He did not specify before this that we would need to hide behind the van and stealth our way to storming the gate. He did not say that you just ride and don’t stop if they come out…they will not do anything to you, but must make some attempt to stop you as they are constantly watched by CCT. I’m not sure if we knew this ahead of time we would have agreed to this, but there is absolutely no way you can get anywhere here if you do not use the highway system. Our itinerary would be impossible.
The first toll attempt was thus an epic fail. We backtracked and then went about 5 km to the next entrance and had much better luck now that we knew the game. The guy did still hop out of the booth, but he was not quick enough to stop the first bike and once one is gone they do not try to stop the rest. The only issue was the sun was so low in the sky and blazing in our eyes that Trevor who was the last bike did not see the gate (that the rest of us went to the right of) and it nearly took him off his bike. The terrain here is like the south of Mongolia of course we are in “inner Mongolia” and it is mostly flat semi desert. There was however some sand drifting onto the pavement at times. We had made it about 200 km and the sun had just set and it was now 10 degrees and we all needed to put on a few more layers. Now we had 140 km to go still in the dark. It is a bit more hilly as we go farther south and east. There have been almost no other vehicles on the road and this was true until about 60 km from the city. The traffic in the city center was a bit hectic, but sedate compared with Tehran.
We finally reached the hotel at 9 pm riding in the dark day one. We managed to find a decent Chinese Bbq/grill place and again our driver ordered up some interesting and delicious food.
Chinese hotels are interesting and different. Only some are “available” to receive foreigners. When you check in you must pay a cash deposit that is up to twice the room rate, but usually less and 100 RNB (20$). Because we checked in “late” or after 6 we had to pay more for the rooms as well. Breakfast is included about half the time. The cleanliness of hotels here is below NA standards (its hard to have clean carpets when you use a broom and not a vacuum). The general wear and tear is evident from the about of use they see. It is not unusual to have your breakfast in a dining hall half filled with stacks of piled up furniture for example.
Inner Mongolia has abundant resources, (east west mine, north south agricultural animal husbandry), grassland and forest and per capita arable land is the first of China, rare earth metal reserves in the world, is also the largest China pastoral area.
This morning we did have breakfast in the hotel and paid about 5$ for the buffet. They did have Nescafe and at least a few food items we could identify. Today we will try to get back on track with our itinerary. This means 486 km from Wulanchbu/Ulanqab to the Great wall at Mutianyu to get back on schedule and make up for getting such a late start yesterday. This will not be achievable in day light!
We were out of the hotel by 845 and to our first Chinese fuel station. Getting fuel in some districts especially in a city can be challenging. We pulled up to the pump and the women refused to put gas into the tank of a motorcycle. We had to park in the designated motorcycle parking and then fill a old dented leaking rusty kettle with a rubber tube attached to the spout with 4.5 L of gas at a time. This is so stupid and gas is dripping all over the place. Not to mention that you have to refill the kettle numerous times for each bike. Apparently on the highway (where motorcycles are not allowed they will refuel with the pump…..go figure). We needed 11 refills for the 4 bikes and so this took a while. We had 3 litres left from Trevor’s gas as he went first and put it into Dan’s jerry can. The attendant started yelling at us and said that if we did not stop doing that she would not sell us anymore fuel. You need a special permit in China to fill a jerry can.
We managed to get back on the highway with no issues today and past 4 tolls today. They are so much easier when they are busy and especially with large trucks as we can pull up along them and pass on the far right. Today only one girl tried minimally to stop us at one exit gate. This is a bit stressful and Dan and I don't feel all that great about breaking the rules, but how else can you get around when the choice is roads that are “toll highway” or secondary roads with lines of trucks.
"Don't Try Fatigue Driving"
We stopped after 100 km for a rest and met some Chinese bikers doing the same toll gate running as us. It is very convenient at every service center on the highway there is a “boiler room” to get hot water to make coffee, tea, or a noodle soup. They all also have free bathroom and usually a buffet restaurant.
After lunch at one of these places we still had 140 km to go at 130 or 3 hours according to the guide to get to the Great Wall. The scenery gets even more hilly as you get closer to the capital. There is more and more traffic as you approach Beijing.
We had to stop for 30 min at the police check so our driver could get a permit to drive inside the Beijing city limits. You have to have special license plates to drive in the city center. The police on the road and here at the check did not even give us a second look, which seems strange since we are not allowed on the highway.
We had views on the distant hills of the Badaling section of the wall that is about 50 km from the center. This is where we think the guides made their next mistake. We drove right past the Badaling section of the wall (which I think is the nicer), “because the itinerary said so”. If we had changed plans here we would have avoided the rest of the issues of the day (almost missing seeing the wall, issues getting gas, and driving in the dark DAY 2). They did not communicate to us actually how far it is to access the Mutianyu wall and how long it would take to go so few km.
We had to go into the 6 th ring road and then back out 50 km on the very busy windy secondary road to the Mutianyu section of the wall.
Huge group of Harleys!!