i'd say the 4-dayer to Dali is ill-advised if you've "not ridden a bike seriously in 8 months". day three of that ride is a shocker, surface-wise. also, going north/higher brings a higher chance of wet/cold.
i'd suggest riding south (Jinghong or Hekou as possible targets) or staying near Kunming. a pretty straightforward 4-dayer based near Kunming is as follows: Day 1 Kunming to Yuxi; Day 2 Yuxi to Gushan; Day 3 lap of Fuxian Lake (this allows you to ride a day unloaded); Day 4 Gushan to Kunming (this has a fairly challenging climb, and some shoddy surface).
i'd offer to send you KMLs of this, but i don't have them with me now (i'm on a bike trip) - Fried (above) has copies of them, and he knows the roads involved. just don't let him talk you into any of his silly 200km+ per day monkey business...
if you're travelling soon, i.e. winter / dry season, i'd skip the antimalarials. it's not worth the side effects, they're difficult to get in China, and they do nothing against dengue. oh, and there's fewer mosquitoes at this time of year. take some repellent.
much eloquence from Chris - his last paragraph especially hits the nail on the head. i'm not sure I'd have had it in me to ante up for another round after an experience like that.
as i'm sure you've heard me say countless times before, i'd not have been able to move to a place like Kunming without a place like Salvador's at which to anchor my life, and i know i'm not alone in this sentiment. i can't even remember what we did the few months you were closed after the bombing - dark days indeed.
here's something telling: whenever i've mentioned to Kunming newcomers about the bombing, they struggle to grasp it. there's simply no sign of it. i don't mean just in the bricks and mortar, i mean there's no trace in the air, in the character of the place. to take something so harrowing, and move on from it so effectively, takes real class.
Yuxi from Kunming is a great first day. there's a bit of traffic and crappy surface after Jinning, but nothing unmanageable. several Ks after Jinning, you'll cross the highway on a bridge and go up a wee bit more, then after that you'll practically fall into Yuxi. it's significantly lower than Kunming. Fenghuang Lu has a decent selection of hotels.
no-one's reviewed this place for nearly 3 years! i think i know why: it's solid. a bit boring maybe, but they get the job done: food on the table in good time, attentive staff, wide selection of items. the 'Prague Breakfast' is a fine feed, still good value after the recent price increase.
i've recently rediscovered this place. it's a little hit and miss, but i have to say that with a little experimentation, you can find some quality food here. while not perfect, the vindaloo is the best i've had.
i first sampled the Silver Spoon burgers a few weeks back - not bad at all, though i was unconvinced that they were 1/2 pound. another visit yesterday, and this time i was persuaded... definitely a fat burger. i was very happy with my cheese and bacon burger. diners with large appetites, be warned - you'll need a side of something to make a meal - the burger is just a burger - no fries.
Yuxi-Mengzi railroad to be operational this yearPosted by
i've just had the opportunity to observe firsthand the rail infrastructure in Vietnam and Cambodia (and in Laos, i guess, but there wasn't any observing to be done.) Vietnam still relies on its single-track Reunification Express line - all very politically charged when it opened, i'm sure, but completely not future proof. Cambodia is laying track, with a lot of freshly-laid bed visible, and stacks of ties ready for deployment, but not a great deal of on-the-ground activity. again, it's single track, and not exactly built for growth.
transport infrastructure construction in Laos is centred on the roads. the best section of road in the country is from the Chinese border to Oudomxai - and it was laid by the Chinese. the question is: at what cost? a friend told me China demands logging concessions as part of the construction deal. also, lacking tunnels and bridges, and one lane each way, it's again not future proof.
so, when are Pan-regional bodies such as the ADB and Asean going to really get their act together and come up with some proper cash for a thorough solution to the problem? the whole region is a powder keg of untapped economic potential that really only needs better transport infrastructure to light the fuse.
my cynical guess is that there's no political willpower and too much corruption to make it work optimally without a nation with deep pockets and questionable morals (in this case, China) showing up and telling SE Asia how it's going to be. cue more power for China, and continued vassal status for the likes of Laos and Cambodia.
Interview: DJ UltraPosted by
Cycling from Kunming to LüchunPosted by
i have to respectfully disagree with "Maybe this is where all the cycle tourists go when we retire (from cycle touring?)."
Kunming is just the beginning.
'No-car day' underlines Kunming's car conundrumPosted by
blobbles, your optimism is admirable, and i don't think entirely unjustified.
however, i think we still have years to wait before the situation really improves. i'll try to keep it short:
car ownership is not motivated by practical concerns alone, conspicuous consumption is also a factor. previous efforts at competently managing transport infrastructure have been unimpressive. pedestrian and two-wheel transport infrastructure is being neglected. the taxi fleet is too small and not growing with the city. car parking is impractically implemented and not sufficient. traffic law enforcement is minimal to absent.
First-hand account: Setting up a guesthouse in XishuangbannaPosted by
i think i see where you're coming from, and i largely agree.
Yunnan's lost its ties with southeast asia, and for so long was (and to some extent still is) considered a backwater of China. it's 'somewhere in the middle', and while it's gradually being reconnected to the rest of China, the same integration is not happening with southeast asia. it'll come soon enough, but it won't happen overnight. e.g. there are plenty of southeast asian students in Kunming gaining Chinese language skills.
regarding tourism... i think Jinghong has long been on the tourist trail (i first went there in the late 90s after reading about it in the Lonely Planet, so it's not exactly hidden) but it hasn't seen the volumes that the likes of Luang Prabang and Ko Phi Phi have seen... China's still far from being considered an 'easy' destination.
here's an idea: what if China issued visas on arrival at Yunnan ports of entry, restricted to travel within Yunnan?