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October 27th 2009
Published: October 27th 2009
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Well! I have now arrived in Ligang old city. What a place. It was 70% demolished in the 1976 earthquake which struck this region and was rebuilt in the old style of wooden houses with grey tiled rooves curving with ornate styles and painted red walls. The roads are of large, well worn granite blocks for pedestrians only and are packed solid with visitors and and shops. the shops sell everything imaginable from clothing, antiques, tourist gifts and food. It is a UNESCO listed site and is well worth a visit, even if it is a manic busy place. It has been a trading city for hundreds of years being on the trade route fro tea fron South West China and horses from Tibet plus being part of the silk road of Asia from Burma into the North. Our hotel, the Sanshe, is right in the old town, and boast western style toilets, derfinately a plus from the squats, especially if you have a bad stomach like four of our group. Luckily they are now recovering enough to eat breakfast this morning. There are toilets in the countryside in little block buildings and consist of holes in the floor with no water and with the afternoon heat will repell all but the desparate. I have learnt about six words in Mandarin now and can differentiate between the male and female characters on toilet walls. I am not yet 'riced up', but expect it at any time. We have rice and the rest of Chinese food for breakfast lunch and dinner, which is quite good, actually and does not appear to be laced with monosodium glutomate, which British Chinese restaurants use and does not agree with me.
We met three Dutch cyclists yesterday, who are spending 6 months touring China and the Far East, loaded up to the gunnels. With these steep hills it must be a hell of a struggle. The are is like riding the Alps with ascents of 10 to 15 kilometres of 7 to 10% gradients with all the hairpins, but made worse by the diesel fumes of passing lorries. The smoke they belch out is something else and would be given a GV9 (prohibition Order) in Britain. Many of the small lorries and trucks only have a single cylinder concrete mixer engine and pass you so slowly that you are gassed for ever, or you push harder to keep in front and then risk blowing yourself up. ALL lorries are underpowered and overloaded with stones and gravel dropping off the top with no sheets on and the roads are spattered with gravel, dust and stones the size of house brisks - hazardous. Women can be seen with orange vests on sweeping many roads with witches brooms and risking life and limb. Nearly as bad as those who put rice on the road to let the traffic do the threshing for them and then drag it off between vehicles - mayhem.
Tommorrow we set off for Quiaotou and then ride through the Tiger Leaping Gorge before staying the night in a hostel of some sort. The mileage each day is not very great at no more than 60 miles so is quite easy, even allowing for the mountains, and gives plenty of time for photogtraphs and video. My only worry is that I have taken that much that editing will be a nightmare, but better too much than too little. My room mate Franko lost his camera in Dali with about 250 photos in it, which left him gutted. He has now bought another one and is making up for lost shots like a maniac. Fortuantaly we all take many photos and can share afterwards. Our guides, Tony and Martin (English names to make life easier) are very good and our bus driver "Mr Gow" is just coming to and beginning to join in, even though he speeks NO English. Tony is a bit of fun and rides a bike well. He is my Mandarin teacher.
My bike is doing well and I am glad I put on some wider tyres since we are often on rough terrain and they ease the bumps. We are now off to see the Black Jade PArk and tonight to visit a show of local folk music, which should be good. I bought the CD of the music in Dali - four CD's for 7 pounds sterling.
The sun is shining - as usual- so must dash.


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