Touring China - Safety, Suggestions

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by iameviljez, Oct 7, 2004.

  1. iameviljez

    iameviljez New Member

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    I'll start in South West China in around Feb if I decide to go ahead with this idea - I'm here already, teaching. The title just about says it all, guys... any ideas?
     
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  2. Saucy

    Saucy New Member

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    Hi.
    I can't help you out on this question but I recommend looking at the Lonely Planet site. They have a cycle touring forum called "On Your Bike". No offense to posters on this site, but LP has seasoned travellers who are mostly independent travellers, many of them solo tourers who have done more adventurous touring like China. The posters there have impressive travel resumes and you are sure to find somebody who can give you some advice.

    Good luck!

    Here is the link.http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=32
     
  3. till!

    till! New Member

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    I toured on a bike in china with my partner in 2000.

    Forget the LP, the book was horribly out of date, or plain wrong for most of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guanxi. When we went we got was the new edition at the time, and found evidence of things being wrong for as long as 5 years.

    That said, we rode from guandong to chengdu, mostly on highway 321, then trained down to kunming, bussed to far north western yunnan, rode down to the burmese border, and then across into laos.

    Dont hesitate about going, its a great place with plenty to see, very nice people, mostly very quiet and good roads, and damn its cheap.

    till

    ps: more on LP, I had a copy of their laos+cambodia atlas, and it shows goat tracks as sealed secondary highways, Im not sure if the author has even ridden all the rides in their cycling laos book, I found an alternative route, marked as sealed, was in fact only sealed from each end, a little way in.
     
  4. DJJ

    DJJ New Member

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    I haven't done any touring in China, but have done lots in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, where I'm living now. Some of the following might help you...

    1. Lonely planet guidebooks are OK for accomodation and general info, but they're typically focussed on backpackers using train or bus. (I'd be prepared to bet that none of the LP authors has ever cycled around the country they're writing about). The LP web site might be a bit better, and I'm sure you can contact other cyclists who've toured in China.

    2. Hopefully you can speak Chinese, it's almost essential to know the local language when you're out in the countryside. Hopefully also your going with a friend, it makes touring so much easier/more fun. (On your own, not speaking the local language makes for a quite tough tour.)

    3. Get the best set of maps that you possibly can. You can buy good quality maps on the Internet, and also get some local maps as well. Don't expect the locals to make any sense of your maps, but it's a huge help if you are able to ask (in Chinese) "which way to xxx?", "where's the nearest YYY"

    4. Make sure you're bike is prepared as well as possible (tyres/paniers/spares etc), and consider carrying camping gear in case you can't get to the next town.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Saucy

    Saucy New Member

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    Just to clarify that my post was referring to the LP forums, not their guidebooks. I think it’s the best forum I’ve found for international cycle touring, especially places like Asia. You can get answers to anything there. Very experienced tourers.

    I agree with DJJ that LP guidebooks are very limited for a cycle tour. Even their cycling specific books are really intended as a supplement to proper maps and other guidebooks. I certainly wouldn't cycle tour without a proper roadmap.

    I like LP but accept the limitations inherent in guidebooks. Its almost impossible to have all the information correct and the maps aren't that great. I think with any guidebook, its going to be out of date quickly, especially with a rapidly developing country like China.

    At the end of the day, LP is usually the guidebook series I turn to, except for US travel where I typically use other series.

    Thus ends my defense of LP.
     
  6. till!

    till! New Member

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    I thought that too, but I met some germans while I was away (hi ekkie and ellen), and they spoke no mandarin and got by ok.

    It was interesting how poorly people read maps in sw china, including the local ones. The best indicator is the signs in the front of the mini-busses between towns, ones from behind you will have some characters, ones going the other will have where you're coming from.

    Personally, if you have 26" tyres, frag carrying a spare. There are plenty of terrible local ones you can use till you get to a better bike shop, and there is at least one in every province that carries a decent range of shimano loot.

    As the touring legend, Mr Pumpy says, a tent is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you carry one, you will have to use it, I never needed a tent in china, and could cover enough ground I didn't need to take one. Really in sw china I couldnt see the point, and accomdation is cheap as well.

    YMMV

    till
     
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