Jim Mikkelson

Biker Jim

Jim Mikkelson

Two wheel traveler, both bicycle and motorcycle. I am getting ready to leave on a motorcycle trip from London to Xian in May.

Asia » China » Qinghai » Xining June 19th 2014

Xining It was another cold day, but no rain. There was a huge traffic jam getting out of town due to a car-truck crash blocking most of the road. Then there was the slow Chinese Army convoy of about 500 trucks going down the road. We spent about 40 miles passing the trucks. The road crossed high yak pastures and two 12,000 ft. passes and a 12,200 ft. tunnel. There was new snow from yesterday and the temperature on top was 36 F. Fortunately, we traveled a day ahead of schedule, or we would have been caught in the next snow storm. This area is near Tibet, and the terrain and people look like Tibet. Xining is a large city with strong Tibetan influence. We visited a Tibetan style monastery with huge golden Budas and a ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Zhangye June 18th 2014

Zhanghe After a few desert days we got to ride in cold and rain to Zhanghe. It was probably the coldest day of the entire trip. (The next day was noticeably colder, but dry). There is a nicely restored fort and the western end of the Great Wall. The western end is small and unimpressive compared to the wall further east.... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Jiayuguan June 17th 2014

Jiayuguan Today was a drive across high desert into a very strong head and cross wind on a nice new road. The temperature was in the 70's, a great relief from the last few days. Jiayuguan is the western end of the Great Wall, and tomorrow we will try to drive out and take some photos of our bikes at the wall. ... read more

Asia » China » Gansu » Dunhuang June 15th 2014

Dunhuang We drove across more desert on the way to Dunhuang. By the middle of the day we left Xinjiang Province, where we have spent all of our time so far in China. After driving across at least 100 miles of nothing, Dunhuang appears. No high rise apartments or big buildings here. It is amazing how much agriculture there is here. It is an old Silk Road oasis town. It seems that many of the Silk Road towns ate agricultural regions. That makes sense of they were supporting the camel trains. There is a huge sand dune south of town, and some old caves to see tomorrow. I have no intention of taking a camel ride, though. ... read more

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Hami June 14th 2014

Hami Hami is an agricultural area famous for mellons. They are everywhere this time of year. We got stopped by the police again so they could check our passports and take pictures of our bikes. I followed my GPS down a non street, through an underpass populated by scooters, along some skinny streets, and finally got to the hotel. I had the biggest moped in town. I barely fit between the barriers. We ate at a local hole in the wall, had a great meal, met a bunch of locals, and got free beer from the restaurant owner. Everyone was happy.... read more

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Turpan June 13th 2014

Turpan From Urumqi we headed east to Turpan across more desert. There are dozens of miles of wind farms along the way, vastly larger than any I have seen in the US. The Turpan basin reaches 150 meters below sea level. It is a lot like Death Valley, low, dry, and hot. We went through early in the day, so it was only 102. Turpan is surprisingly large and green, with tree lined streets and lots of activity. It was still hot, but more pleasant than the desert.... read more

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Urumqi June 12th 2014

Urumqi We have arrived in Urumqi, the largest city in Northwest China (5+ M). The drive down the new road could have been pretty much anywhere in the world, except for the new cities and power plants being built everywhere. There is a huge mall next door with all the most expensive stores, and a block away are the traditional hole in the wall shops. The contrasts are amazing. It is getting hot again We are expecting 100+ tomorrow in Turpan.... read more

Asia » Kazakhstan » East Kazakhstan » Almaty June 12th 2014

Zharkent Our last stop in Kazakhstan. Tomorrow we do the border crossing to China. It will take Monday and Tuesday to get all the vehicle permits finished. For me it will be the last border crossing.... read more

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Yinning June 11th 2014

Kuitun After finally getting our Chinese documents, we headed east to Kuitun. We drove on new roads across some arid plains and then over a 7000 ft. plateau with a spectacular new bridge and tunnel system. On top, it looked just like Colorado. The Chinese seem to have no way to collect tolls ftm motorcycles, so we just ride around the end of the toll gate. Sometimes a guy comes out to direct us around. After running our third toll gate, the police stopped us at their checkpoint. The took lots of pictures, smiled a lot, gave us drinks, and we were off. So far, Chinese officials have been great (except for the DMV).... read more

Asia » China » Xinjiang » Yinning June 10th 2014

A day at the DMV is pretty much the same everywhere. It took half a day to get our Chinese driver's licenses, and until 8 PM to get our "license plates".... read more

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