13th - 20th Feb 2004
From Emei Town we wanted to go due west but the closed town of Jinkouhe barred our route so instead we pedalled north-west to Ya'an, partly retracing our previous route. Almost everywhere in China you find dozens of people at work, often a job that would be done by a mechanical digger in the west is done by twenty men with picks and shovels. These were widening the road:
From Ya'an we followed a the Sichuan - Tibet highway westwards. The scenery was amazing but the legs found the constant uphill hard going.
100km from Ya'an the uphill ended at a 4km long tunnel that passes beneath Erlangshan. There used to be a landslide prone road here that crossed the pass at 3000m, but the tunnel saved us the last 600m! The mountain is a real weather barrier, we had cloud on the east side and sunshine on the west, and the vegetation all turned brown. Then we whistled downhill to Luding.
From Luding it was uphill for 60km and 1200m to Kangding. On the way we met the first cycle tourists we had seen on the road since Russia, and appropriately enough they were from Russia! They were Alexi and Olga, five days into a three month ride from Chengdu via Lhasa and Golmud to Kazakstan. This is a distance of 5000km, much of it on unsurfaced roads at 4000m-5000m, wearing big rucsacs and dodging the police. As Ju said: "If I hadn't met Russians before I would have thought they couldn't do it". As it is we are sure they will pedal or push every inch of the way and have an awesome trip. They were camping every night despite the cheapness of Chinese hotels so we rode with to Kangding and stood them a night in a cheap place with hot water.
|In Kangding we found that rare thing, a hotel that was both clean and cheap and took foreigners (pictured left). And there was hot water for a wash! We had a good evening with Alexi and Olga and told them what we knew of the hazards of the road to Lhasa (checkpoints and closed towns). They left the next morning but we needed a rest day.|
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