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This category contains 44 posts

Chengdu to Mengla: Racing for the border

We managed to put away nine burgers between us during our 2-day stay at the hostel in Chengdu. Don’t get me wrong, Chinese food is absolutely fantastic but it was such a novelty to have a menu that we could actually read and to be able to eat something other than rice or noodles. We … Continue reading »

Lanzhou to Chengdu: Up, down, up, down, up, …

With the first half of our China Challenge completed relatively quickly we had grand plans of relaxing for the best part of a week in Lanzhou, stocking up on some much needed calories and sleep, picking up our visas and heading off south-bound with another 30 days to explore this enormous country. It didn’t quite … Continue reading »

Jiayuguan to Lanzhou: Entering the Middle Kingdom

A day off in Jiayuguan was very welcome for both of us. On our ride the previous day we had endured multiple sets of road works, three punctures caused by tiny pieces of metal from truck tire blowouts, gale force winds and the expressway becoming increasingly busy with huge trucks that thundered by incessantly. We … Continue reading »

Urumqi to Jiayuguan: Eat, sleep, cycle

On the fourth morning in Urumqi we nervously peered out of our hostel window in the hope that the weather forecast had been correct and the snow had abated. It had! There was absolutely no time to linger; we had roughly 1,250km to get through to reach Jiayuguan (the edge of the historical Middle Kingdom … Continue reading »

Chinese border to Urumqi: Flying to a halt

Pedalling out of the border area into China felt like entering a different world. On the Kazakh side there was a small dusty village and a dirt road. On the Chinese side there were modern high rises and a six-lane motorway through the centre of town (complete with cycle lane). Not far out of town … Continue reading »

Bishkek to China: The end of Central Asia

Leaving Bishkek was much harder than we had expected, not because the cycling was difficult (in fact the cycling was quite pleasant for a city), but because we had made such good friends in our time there. It is one of the rubbish things about travelling, the saying goodbye with the very real possibility that … Continue reading »

Bishkek to Hong Kong (and back again): The great Chinese visa hunt

We arrived in Bishkek with one goal in mind; Chinese visas in our passports. There were never any doubts in our mind that we would achieve this – Bishkek is noted on caravanistan.com (a font of all knowledge about Central Asia) as being the easiest place to get Chinese visas in the region. Little did … Continue reading »

Samarkand to Bishkek: Never a dull moment cycle touring

The weeks leading up to Samarkand had been spent crossing vast swathes of emptiness, battling ferocious head winds, and dealing with the challenge of cycling in really cold temperatures. This of course was interrupted with the immense pleasure of visiting some truly remarkable Great Game cities. Leaving Samarkand felt like the end of our Great … Continue reading »

Nukus to Samarkand: The not so golden road

Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells, When shadows pass gigantic on the sand, And softly through the silence beat the bells Along the Golden Road to Samarkand. We travel not for trafficking alone; By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned: For lust of knowing what should not be known We take … Continue reading »

Beyneu to Nukus: Desert days

Having traversed almost the entire width of Kazakhstan twice by train it was a relief to finally arrive in Beyneu, the starting point for continuing our journey towards New Zealand. What was more of a relief than arriving was the fact that we had timed it so that we only needed to stay one night… … Continue reading »

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