Days 99-101; Oct.25th-27th; Dali-Chuxiong Zi Xi Mt. Scenic Area-Anshun, Guizhou; 21,070km-21,569km
The Perfect Morning
We had a great morning in Dali, really taking our time before leaving in the morning. We walked around the old town, watching everyone setup for the days work and all the farmers from the countryside (all women as it turns out), laying out produce in the street to sell. We went to Bakery 88 where we could get some sandwiches for the road and then over to the Bad Monkey for a big western breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, the good stuff!). Great being able to have coffee during these past couple days in Yunnan. Most of China you can really only find the instant kind, but in Yunnan where they grow their own, it’s possible to find lots of places that serve local brews.
On the road by noon and from their nothing much to report on the roads. It seemed we were out of the more mountainous region of Yunnan, still nice in parts though others were more densely populated.
We decided to camp out that night for a change of pace. I found a green patch on the map about 10km off the main road, and though there was no way of telling exactly what was there, it seemed like it was worth a try. By about 5pm, we turned down the side road and drove through a wonderfully twisty mountain road lined with farms and rice paddies until we got to the park. There was a ticket booth, but it was closed, and a traffic barrier, but it was open. I asked a women that was closing down her convenience store about going in and camping and she just waved indicating we could go through. So we found a nice secluded camping spot, setup our tent, made a fire, and enjoyed our instant noodle dinner before bed.
The next morning it was nice waking up in the woods. Much more quiet than a city. A calmer overall process of packing up.
Left through the south entrance of the park and wrapped back up to the national road we had been on before continuing east. We wove through a mountain road that strangely split the two directions of traffic to the two sides of the ravine. I never quite trusted that there wouldn’t be some random truck or motorcycle coming down on the wrong side so I stuck to the right as much as possible.
What’s A Day On The Road Without Mud?
About 100km out of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, the area started getting more developed and we hit some really rough roads through some villages. The dirt and gravel soon turned to mud and the unending line of trucks made it exceedingly difficult to make any progress. I tried to pass around when possible but the mud was very deep and slippery making it hard to brake and accelerate properly. The mud being kicked up in my face by the trucks wasn’t helping visibility either.
In the course of this, we went over a particularly large bump and I heard a crack in the rear. At the time I thought it was the suspension bottoming out. Later on though, after we had made it back to asphalt though and we stopped for lunch at a gas station, we found that in fact the sound had come from the aluminum braces for our rear luggage rack snapping clear through. This was a little worrisome since now almost all the weight was sitting on the back over the taillight with only two bolts holding the weight. The straps we had holding our second bag on the back up seemed to be helping keeping the weight up so we thought we’d see how far that could hold up (nothing much we could do there anyway).
Pushing on after our instant noodle lunch we hit another traffic jam. This one was through a village, and though there was no mud, the narrow streets made it so that no one was moving through it. I was growing a little tired of the traffic and so decided, enough was enough, let’s hop on the expressway! A little detour around the village and we were sailing along at 120km/h, on to Kunming before easily going around it on the ring road.
Unfortunately, our straps were not able to maintain the stress of the weight of our luggage. The broken bracket pieces were loosening and the taillight was beginning to crack from the bouncing. We pulled over on the highway and decided to call it a day and find a mechanics. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone to properly repair the rack (we were ordering a new one from CFMoto but wouldn’t be able to pick it up for another few days until we got to Sanya on Hainan island), but a guy at a shop was able to drill a couple holes to reinforce it a bit with some metal wire and to use the straps to help pull the weight of the bag more forward and off the taillight. After it was done, everything seemed to be holding and secure so we set off to find a place to stay for the night.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention… Officially 100 days on the road! Fitting we experienced, traffic, mud, rain, and mechanical problems!
The next day we were off to a new province! Guizhou was just sort of going to be a stop to check a province off of the list since it was landlocked and we needed to get to the coast. We went in a little more than we needed to though instead of just cutting through its SW corner to give the province a chance. And we’re very glad we did!
A surprisingly beautiful countryside. Misty green hills the whole way through, mounds almost shaped like giant hobbit homes and random and massive rock formations shooting up out of the ground like some sort of grotesque modern art exhibition.
We also found it very interesting that in both Yunnan and Guizhou provinces there was none of the stigma of motorcycles on the highway. Not once did we get chased through the toll gates nor did we receive any problems with police at checkpoints. In fact at one checkpoint, an officer simply checked my drivers license asked us what country we were from out of curiosity and then waved us on our way. In Guizhou we even began to see other non-cars on the expressway- motorcycles, carts, bicycles, even pedestrians! For as much as you hear of a centralized government in China, it’s interesting how much things can change from province to province.