I'm looking for people to join me for all (or part of) a 6-week cycling trip
to China over Christmas and January. I will be on one wheel but
2-wheelers are welcome to join as long as they are happy with a slightly
slower pace. I prefer people to join for at least 10 days. Ideally we would
get 3-6 people at any one time.
We will be staying in guesthouses, hotels or truck stops (we'll see what
we can find). There is very little (well, none really...) information
available for the small towns we will be in so this is not an overly pre-organised
trip. However, I have done a very similar trip before (on 2 wheels) in 1996
so I know it is possible. But expect that we will be making lots of
decisions as we go along.
Good question. A few answers:
I love a holiday where I can get fit (not a state that I
am in for much of the rest of the year) in the fresh air.
I speak enough mandarin Chinese language to get around;
I will be between jobs (between countries actually, I'm
moving from Hong Kong to Australia) so I have the time;
The Chinese countryside is beautiful;
The Chinese people where we will be going have
rarely seen westerners before (or unicyclists!) and are generally
very friendly and interested in talking to us;
And I don't think anyone has done a long China tour on
unicycles before so it is always fun to be a first.
We will aim to cycle 4-7 hours per day or 40-80km. For
unicyclists a Coker is recommended. 2-wheelers will find the going quite
easy. If you get tired, China is a very bike friendly place. You can hail
a bus anywhere and generally every bus will take a bike (or unicycle) -
often on the roof so bring some bungee cords. There are very few roads so
you are unlikely to get lost getting to the next town. On my last
trip, we managed to find each other without phones. Westerners (and
long-distance cyclists) are really not a common sight. If you are not the
first to arrive, you can just ask any street vendor - 'Excuse me, have you
seen my friends' and they will point you in the right direction. And
anyway, this time we should have phones.
On the other hand,
if you are very fit, and/or want to do some off-road cycling, we will be
cycling along roads with fields on both sides. These fields usually have
rough tracks that you can follow to smaller villages, further into the hills
for some extra cycling each day.
You will need to
bring your own bicycle / unicycle - although I do have a bicycle I can lend
people - Someone is already booked to ride it for the first week of the
tour- but after that it is first come/first served.
I have been quoted a cost of US$30 per day for a van and driver to take
our luggage from hotel to hotel each day so we don't need to carry it.
I wouldn't have done this for a bicycle trip but it is difficult to carry
luggage on a unicycle. The other alternative (if there are enough
willing 2-wheelers) is for everyone to travel light and divide the
unicyclists' luggage between the bicycles. I would prefer this solution.
Another is to just pay someone at the hotel the night before to take the bus
with our luggage and meet us at the bus station in the next town at 6pm the
Travelling in China is cheap (once you've got there) but there is a
reason for that. China is still a third world country so don't expect 5 star
hotels - we won't be camping though. We will find a roof over our head every
night with plenty of blankets and hot showers. Also the food (and beer!) is
excellent quality in China and very cheap so we will eat well (if nothing
else). Hotels cost from
20-200 RMB per night depending on whether it is in the country or the city.
Food and drink costs shouldn't be more than 100 RMB (US$12) per day.
Therefore, a total budget of 250 RMB (US$30) a day should be plenty.
Getting to China
The cheapest way is to fly to Hong Kong and go overland from there. You
can get a ferry ticket from the China Ferry Terminal (33 Canton Road, Tsim
Sha Tsui), CKS ferries to Zhao Qing (the start of the trip) for
HK$170. Ferries leave once per day at 8.20am and take 5 hours.
(They return at 2.00pm every day). From Zhao Qing you can get a bus to
wherever we are.
Alternatively you can fly to Hong Kong and then fly to Guilin, Nanning or Kunming and
get a bus from there. It is cheaper to do an internal China flight from
Shenzhen (just over the border from Hong Kong) than to fly from Hong Kong.
There is a direct bus from Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen airport for HK$180
- it takes 2 hours and leaves every 30 minutes (
http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/cross.html ). This
has one-way air-tickets from Shenzhen to Nanning for US$133.
It is winter so it will be cold but should not drop below zero this far
south so there will not be ice. I have cycled in this area before at this
time and it was sometimes warm enough to wear shirt-sleeves during the day,
although it was much colder at night - although the hotels/guesthouses
always provided plenty of bedding and had hot showers. Winter is the
dry season so it will be cool but it should not (fingers
crossed) rain too much.
Most foreign nationals need a visa to go to China - If you are in Hong
Kong, a 6-month multiple entry visa costs HK$480 from Japan Travel Agency
for Australian and most other passport holders (except countries like, Iran,
Iraq, Kazakhstan, UK or US which currently costs HK$950)-
5/F, East Ocean Centre, 98 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Tel 2368-9151 (M-F
9.00-7.00, Sat 9-12.00). Residents of other countries may be able to
organise this through their travel agent or by applying directly to the
Chinese embassy in their country.
My number in China will be +86 13097742555. It is a China Unicom card.
Getting a prepaid SIM card for my phone was surprisingly easy.
There are phone shops everywhere (in cities). However, the pricing seems to
be for each province. Since we will mostly be in GuangXi province, make sure
you buy a GuangXi card. Receiving calls is free (for the first 3000
minutes). The standard initial card is worth RMB 50 (although I paid 65 -
for my easier-to-remember number!). You can buy top-up codes (recommended)
and get the shop to help you dial the numbers to top up the money. I was
able to call and receive calls internationally - although it was pretty
expensive - but I didn't seem to be able to send/receive texts (SMS)
internationally - but locally should be fine.
Internet - we should be able to get to the internet in the cities
- but don't count on it for the small towns - I certainly didn't see any
there. Although, unlike my last trip, I did see a lot more computers
generally so we might get lucky in some places.
Some tentative dates (you can catch a bus to/from the nearest place and join/leave us any day.
You can call me to find out where we are). Note the
cheapest way to travel to china is flying to Hong Kong and then catching
ferries and buses to wherever we are - although an internal flight should
also be cheap).
Cities are in bold. They are places you can take a bus to from anywhere.
The other places are small towns which only the locals will have heard of.
Many distances are approximations.
The roads should be paved all the way
Seems too easy? - there are plenty of off-road stuff to try every
day if you want to do extra.
Worried about not being fit enough? Buses come along every 30
minutes or so, can be flagged down from anywhere and can take people and
bicycles/unicycles to the next town so no worries about finishing.
|18 Dec 04
||Hong Kong - Zhaoqing by boat
||ferry leaves 8.20am. Seven Star Crags, Lake
|19 Dec 04
||Chinese tourist spot - large temple
|20 Dec 04
|21 Dec 04
||Chinese tourist spot - beautiful river
|22 Dec 04
||rest of day to look round Wuzhou city
|23 Dec 04
||the first hills take it easy!
|24 Dec 04
||so much for taking it easy...
|25 Dec 04
|26 Dec 04
|27 Dec 04
||Yangshou (near Guilin)
||Famous beautiful hills - backpacker mecca
|28 Dec 04
||chocolate pancakes and french fries...
|29 Dec 04
||caves, hiking up to viewpoints
|30 Dec 04
||well, this is a holiday, right!
|31 Dec 04
||72km mostly flat
|1 Jan 05
||65km mostly flat
|2 Jan 05
|3 Jan 05
|4 Jan 05
|5 Jan 05
|6 Jan 05
||57km mostly flat
|7 Jan 05
||70km first half hills
|8 Jan 05
||lake, museum, hot springs, waterfall
|9 Jan 05
|10 Jan 05
|11 Jan 05
||75km first half flat
|12 Jan 05
|13 Jan 05
||62km mostly flat
|14 Jan 05
|15 Jan 05
|16 Jan 05
||74km mostly flat
|17 Jan 05
|18 Jan 05
||81km mostly hills
|19 Jan 05
|20 Jan 05
|21 Jan 05
|22 Jan 05
|23 Jan 05
||....well you can always finish on the bus
|24 Jan 05
|25 Jan 05
||Chinese tourist spot - Stone forest
|26 Jan 05
|27 Jan 05
||temples, park, lake
I don't have much 'tourist information' about some parts of the trip. But
I'm pretty sure that we will be passing through some hill-tribe areas where
there will be villagers in traditional costume, particularly where we will
be closer to the Vietnamese border. Also any of the hilly parts and places
we follow rivers (which we do a lot of) tend to have great views so bring a
camera with lots of memory/film.
Who am I looking for?
If you'd like to join me, I hope you will be:
- At least average fitness (I'm not so fit right now) although that will
of course improve on the trip. Two-wheelers in particular need not be
tri-athletes as we will only be covering 40-80km per day.
- Easy-going. Things can happen in China - delays, broken
equipment, low-standard accommodation (actually that one is positively
guaranteed ;-)), misunderstanding (Just because the map says it is 40km
and a local told us that it is flat doesn't mean it is not 60km on
un-tarred roads up and down hills. Maps with contours marked are mostly
impossible to find), dirty toilets (that one is guaranteed too - but there
is always the side of the road...) so you should expect the unexpected and
be willing to be flexible.
- Fun, interesting etc, etc (this is starting to sound like a personals
- if you want to read about other long-distance unicycle tours and see some
Bike China Tours - the
guy who runs this has given us the quote for the van and driver to carry our
stuff. If you want a more organised, (and expensive) trip (on 2
wheels), his tours look great. His website has lots of info about cycling in
Photos from my
1996 China Cycling Trip - This was in July and August which was hot and
is also the rainy season.
Xishuangbanna (pronounced: she-shwung-banner) -A travelogue from this
area of South-West China, not far from where we will finish .
Contact me (Roz Beste) at firstname.lastname@example.org or
+852 9365-4291 (Hong Kong number) if you want any more info or would like to come along.
I now have a mobile phone number for China. It will be +86 13097742555.
It doesn't seem to be able to accept or send text messages internationally -
and there is no voice mail. So evenings or lunchtimes will probably be the
most convenient for me to answer. We won't get to e-mail very often but you
can try. I might check my Hong Kong number voicemail occasionally too.
If I can get to a PC - I'll try to put some updates and photos here