Tiffany's Trail to Tibet

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tiffany, May 13, 2011.

  1. BELSTAFF

    BELSTAFF ADV NOMAD

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    "When in Rome,do as Romans do!!"
  2. bigdamo

    bigdamo Been here awhile

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    Luckily Tiffany did not see the color of the cooking oil they use.The Chinese have bought a new definition to the term recycling when using cooking oil.
  3. TheReaper!

    TheReaper! Been here awhile

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    Did you take a good look at that kitchen ? MUMMA MIA ! :puke1

    TheReaper!
  4. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    You think this was bad??
    There were some kitchens that I literally didn't want to go any closer to and definitely wouldn't have taken any photos - video nasties. This one wasn't too bad in my opinion - Reaper, I think maybe you need to get out more:lol3
  5. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Lots of police checkpoints along our way
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    An opportunity to check we're all on the correct road and heading in the right direction.

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    The usual crowds when we stopped, people wanting to take photos and even standing in the middle of the roads to get the best angle.

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    One more town and then in the distance a familiar sight...
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  6. rattis

    rattis Long timer

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    Very nice sofar, the only advantage of being sick, you can sit for hours and read and noone will bug you.
    Even though I almost died, with envy.:rofl
  7. Jantje

    Jantje ADW - Adv/Wheels

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    Great report Tiffany... good to see you're having fun.
    Just wondering about (excessive) aggressiveness in these situations...seems to me that if there are "rules" people want to be the first (and the "best") to break them.
    Safe travels. See you in Nakusp Canada one day again.
  8. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    I think you could be right about the rule breaking stuff and aggressiveness. One of my favourite traffic jam sights was in Mongolia, where, used to the wide open spaces and not only no rules, but no roads or tracks across most of the country, when people are driving in the capital city, Ulaan Bataar, they just bring that same lack of structure with them, cars, pick up trucks and whatever going up on the pavement (sidewalk) to get through everything - often going against the flow of the traffic.
  9. tremor38

    tremor38 Long timer

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    Perfect! Just go where the locals go. Same thing I do in Singapore and Taiwan. I'd rather eat in a popular food booth than in the hotel.
  10. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    What can I say... one of the planet's best known structures and the only ancient one that can be seen from space. Work started on it over 2000 years ago and it was built to keep out foreign invaders including Genghis Khan, he went around it.
    Facing us as the current defenders of the wall were these two guys

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    They were stopping everyone and charging 2 Yuan for each person to climb the wall, at 20 pence (30 cents) that didn't seem too bad a price to pay. We particularly enjoyed they way they look so un-official, just a couple of guys from the village who have dragged their chairs up the hill with a brolly and a little sign. Chancers maybe, but what the hell, congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit, pay up and continue.

    A narrow pathway across a dam to be negotiated first, including obligatory photo stops with locals

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    Call me Mrs Ignorant, but I had no idea ithe wall was so steep. To approach it we had to scramble through bushes and shrubs following a narrow gravel footpath up the hill. This ended at the foot of the wall, close to the base of one of the guard towers. Leading up to the window of the tower was a very rickety ladder which was a test in itself, being over 20 feet high and with a narrow window at the top to squeeze through into the tower.
    Mentioning no names, some took more persuasion than others to head up the ladder, it was not the most secure or safest looking structure. I set off up it with jokes about the risks and dangers we’d faced along the roads to get here and then to fall off a ladder so close to the end,

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    Once up we realised what an incredible construction the Wall is as it stretched away into the distance as far as the eye could see, following the steep ridge line of the mountains in both directions. I started heading along it,

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    40 minutes later and I’d walked as far as I’d wanted, I turned round and found some of our group scattered along the wall
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    Some climbed further while the rest of us just relaxed and contented ourselves with enjoying the views and the incredible scenery

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  11. sion

    sion sigh-own

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  12. hosertp

    hosertp Adnauseam Adventurer

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    Very cool RR Tiffany! :clap
    Pushing the envelope is part of the adventure. It reminds me of the phrase that it is always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Fun, and yet sometimes you stub your toe, as long as it doesn't insult or hurt someone else. Knowing the difference is the difficult part.
    Concur on the idea of eating where the locals eat, and eating with a local is a home run. I've found that a well tipped bartender will usually send you in the correct direction in populated areas. Where you have been, the color of the oil wouldn't keep me away from warm food!!
    Great pictures and narrative.
    All the best
    p
  13. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Leaving the Wall, we had to run the gauntlet of the honey sellers, you can see her bee hives under the trees behind her

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    There are quite a number of expressways in China which as their name suggests allow the traffic to move at a more rapid pace- they are the motorways in this part of the world. However they are strictly no-go areas as far as motorbikes are concerned, as almost all of the bikes here are 125cc models and they’re considered too slow and too much of a hazard to be allowed onto high speed roads. To be honest they’re pretty much a hazard wherever they go.

    Several of us (probably all of us) had tried to get onto the expressways as we made our way northwards, it’s the equivalent of going through a toll barrier and as always bikes can generally squeeze by. Almost all of us were turned away with some angry words, I did manage to sneak on once when I really couldn’t find any other route out of the city of Lanzhou. It was a fantastic feeling to be able to ride fast again, making good time and getting the benefit of a cooling breeze. However, mindful of my role as guide, I was soon back on the normal road when I’d worked out where I was. The so-called normal roads were so clogged up with traffic that it’s hard work riding along them.

    There can be no relaxing on the roads out here as the Chinese are probably the most bizarre and unpredictable drivers I have seen anywhere in the world. Yes, worse than Cairo’s mad mullah taxi drivers who literally scraped their cars past me, the truckers in the Bolivian Andes driving huge distances sustained by coca leaves and weaving erratically the whole way and, dare I say it even worse than the terrifying circus-like free for all that passes for traffic in Delhi.
    Cars, bikes and trucks will suddenly pull U-turns in the middle of the road and go in the opposite direction, there is no concept of dual carriageways, you might think you’re on one but there will always be someone coming along in the wrong direction on what you may naively be thinking of as YOUR side of the road. Another favourite trick is for vehicles to pull onto the main road at speed from a side street and not look either way to check for other vehicles. We quickly came to the conclusion that almost everyone behind a steering wheel is a potential suicide waiting in the wings to take us out. My favourite scenario was the day that I looked ahead and realised there were no less than six vehicles all side by side driving TOWARDS me, using both lanes on the road and both the hard shoulders, I'm still not sure how I managed to squeeze through and survive unscathed.
    Our average speed on days like this was always low- often taking a whole day to cover 250 miles and feeling exhausted at the end of it, mainly due to the need to be constantly on the alert.

    Ed (Mullen from Riding in the Tracks fo Giants fame) was filming a lot and his videos give testament to the conditions we were facing. Here he is with one of his cameras catching us on film as we made our way through some of the traffic.
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    Time for more city riding, we've got a few more places to see.

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  14. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Hey Sion, I knew someone would come up with the other side of the story. Though I had no idea that some people were claiming it can be seen from the moon, which is daft.
    I made sure I wrote "ancient" into the sentence- as altough it isn't too clear, it CAN be seen from space and parts of it are over 2000 years old - not bad bad for an antique.:D
  15. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv Super Moderator

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    bit late to join in, but very very nice RR. enjoying your pics :clap
  16. MODNROD

    MODNROD Pawn of Petty Tyrants

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    Absolutely!
    A jostling crowd around a push-cart is a sure sign of good food........unlike a "western" or "upmarket" hotel.:deal
    Mmmm, noodles with fried chicken (at least, I think it was chicken......).
  17. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Next was Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest square and more recently, better known as being the stage for protests, followed by the violent reprisals against them leaving thousands dead.
    It was a peaceful day when we saw it though the busy traffic driving through meant it was as noisy as the rest of Beijing.

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    Police are on duty at all the strategic points, I was impressed with this guy's white gloves

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    The length of the queue at the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall was enough to put me off any desire to see his embalmed body

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    the coffin is stored every night in a freezer and brought out to be put on show for those who are curious enough to want to see it or to pay their respects to China’s best known citizen.
    I made do with a photo of the huge portrait outside on the wall.

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    It's strange, it was only looking bck at my photos, that I noticed the fire extinguishers dotted around - ready for use in case a protestor tries self-immolation.

    Still on a tourist trail frenzy though some were obviously more tired than I was

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    I went straight on to the Forbidden City



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    where I trailed along behind the thousands of Chinese tourists who travel great distances to see and marvel at the 800 buildings including halls, palaces and temples with such great names as the Palace of Earthly Tranquillity. Some of these buildings were created for Kublai Khan and there is a lot of history although the frustrating part is that we could only peer into the buildings and were not actually allowed to enter them.


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    I was fascinated by the souvenir stalls and invested in a Chairman Mao watch and t-shirt amongst other things, as well as being tempted by these wind-up crawling soldiers


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    Mullen was decided to make a war fil featuring them, which drew even more of a crowd


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  18. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Well, the jostling crowds were certainly there

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    but it definitely wasn't chicken that was on offer

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  19. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    Back onto the bikes for the final ride

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    more unusual English wording on the signs

    Our final day of riding was to be one with a difference, it was a misty morning as we loaded up our bikes for the final time and set off. We were going to be given an opportunity to try the “forbidden fruit” of the expressway. Apparently the area manager for this section of the roads is a BMW bike fan and so permission had been granted to ride along it. We enjoyed the feel of once more using the higher gears on the bikes and easily covering distances which would have taken us much longer on the other roads, but we also realised that actually we might as well be riding at home on roads like this and not have travelled halfway across the world.


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    On the expressway we missed seeing the trucks with their comedy loads, the sight of whole families crammed onto one scooter and the smiles and waves of the other drivers as we passed by. So maybe there is a trade-off and actually going the fastest route isn’t always the best way to travel.
    Regardless, we made it into Beijing and then had to stop, we’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and our expected escort of local riders had not appeared. We waited while the guide contacted them by phone. I used the time to polish up Beryl, cleaning some of the dust off her with the rag that I kept handy. Traffic stopped to get a closer look at us, with people standing in the street to take photos. As we were well aware, the habit of pointing and staring is quite common here and yet again we were the object of much fascination. We stood out more than usual because our group of thirteen vehicles had stopped on a main road and obviously had no idea where it was going.
    There’s a strange law that doesn’t allow foreign bikes inside the fifth circle of Beijing, ie we can’t go into the centre of the city. There’s some confusion amongst us and the guides as to why this is, maybe because of congestion or pollution are two of the educated guesses, but neither of those seemed to know for sure.


    More checkpoints/toll booths which took quite a while to clear as they weren't used to dealing with bikes


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    Eventually a small group of the city’s finest bike riders arrived, beckoned us to follow them and doing a U-Turn immediately set off with us in hot pursuit. We were told to keep up with them and for a while it was a bit of a free for all as this involved weaving in and out of the queues of speeding traffic on the expressway. I’m enjoying it, but I know some of the group are a bit nervous. For me the adrenaline starts to flow once I’m in busy foreign cities and surrounded by vehicles, knowing that I’m on a bike that can accelerate much faster than any of them is always a thrill as I pick my way through doing cheeky little manoeuvres that I wouldn’t get away with in England.


    The heat and the humidity are quite intense, Mullen treats us all to a glimpse of his chest.:eek1


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  20. Tiffany

    Tiffany Airhead Adventuress

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    There is often an anti-climax to arriving at the final destination following a long journey, for example no-one had told me Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) was a DRY settlement before I got there:huh

    However Beijing was different
    We pulled up at the front of BMW Beijing to find a gala reception awaiting us with a big stage, lots of people, banners, music and dancing girls (actually I’m joking about the dancing girls but it sounded good). Even better than that was the shopping trolley loaded with cold beers, eyes were gleaming as we spotted it.

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    We all grabbed the opportunity for group photos and congratulated one another on having successfully made it on what is one of the world’s most perilous journeys.

    While the blokes grabbed more drinks, us women were called over for more photos, it's very, very unusual to see woman riding a big bike in China and there were lots of questions directed at us.

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    Never one to turn down a chilled drink...champagne anyone??

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    It would be rude not to try it

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    The music, speeches and congratulations went on into the evening.

    We'd made it after 12,000 miles in three months from one end of Europe to the far side of Asia, crossing mountain ranges, deserts, rivers and some of the worst roads I've ever seen.