Lijiang to Panzhihua

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October 7th 2007
Published: October 7th 2007
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Ni Hao again, and so soon. We paid an evening visit to ye olde towne of Lijiang before moving on the next day. It really is a beautiful town, with channels of (clean) water flowing through the streets, and is beautifully lit at night with lanterns. Bit like Matlock Bath, really. The Naxi formation dance team were out in force doing their traditional dance. Unfortunately, they only seem to have one tune, which reverberates throughout the town from every square and restaurant. I'm so glad we didn't stay in the old town - apart from the tourist hoards and the expense, it could have been death by the Birdie Song. Since then we have cycled on to Panzihua, through the mountains. And what cycling it has been. From Lijiang we had a 15 km climb which took us to the top of an enormously deep gorge, with vertical rock faces and terraces of rice fields pouring down the slopes like ripples in sand. Waterfalls tumbled down from cliff top to the river far below. I have never seen, nor imagined, such a landscape in this world. We swooped down towards the valley bottom for 40 km, stopping only to take in a fine lunch of some of the best ham I have ever tasted (The pigs are usually housed next door to the toilets, but don't think about that.) After hitting the valley bottom (and the rather ugly cement factory and squalid associated dwellings), we had about 50 km of gentle undulating climb, then the sting in the tail - a 15 km switchback climb to Yongsheng. (Hillclimb Pete - we're ready for you next October.) Met a rare species near the top - a Chinese touring cyclist, who got very excited at seeing us and took lots of photos of us all in the exotic setting of a rubbish dump. We had another day of fine cycling yesterday, but a frustrating day today: the road was full of cement and coal wagons, churning out filthy fumes and any fine views were hidden under a veil of pollution and smog. Richard had a surreal moment when a Chinese motorist stopped and asked him for directions. In true Chinese fashion, without any basis of fact, Richard confidently pointed him up the road. We were both black with grime when we arrived here, and took ages to find what appears to be the only hotel in this modern, commercial city. Unfortunately it is 4*.

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Richard's navigation is called into question.

21st October 2007

Following in your footsteps
Hi there, It was really nice to find your blog! My girlfriend and I are in Lijiang now with our bikes, about to embark on the same journey to Panzhihua. It sounds like nice cycling to Yongsheng, but how did the rest of the route stack up?

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