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Jan Hoggart

"China By Bike"

Jan and Ian's Experiences on a Bike China Adventures Tour

Copyright © Jan Hoggart, 2005

Jan and Ian with school kids in Xiaojin


China By Bike June 2005

Ian and I have had one of the most extraordinary experiences of our lives. We had decided to travel to China this year and wanted to add to the experience. Our first thoughts were to travel alone and use public transport and to bumble along discovering things on the way. Suddenly we had cold feet and imagined spending most of the holiday trying to get from A to B and not actually enjoying the sights and the culture. We discovered Bike China on the Internet. Our fear then was that the whole thing was a rort, a scam, but then we thought, What the heck, we only stand to lose our deposit! So we took the gamble and won and didnt look back!!

Three boys along the road

We arrived in Beijing. There was a man with our names on a card, who delivered us to the taxi. (First thing that worked) We were taken to the Bamboo Gardens Hotel as arranged (Second thing that worked) They were expecting us (Worked again). A phone call came from our guide (Things were looking really good). Early next morning we met Mike, our guide, signed contracts and handed over the travellers cheques (Every thing was working like a charm. Good on Bike China). We then started our fantastic adventure.

    Mike is getting helpful advice from the resident experts.

Every day is a surprise, every day is different became our catchcry. We rode, we hiked, we drove, we talked and we ate. We slept in great hotels and saw many wonderful sights. Every day presented us with new delights and new challenges. 

Billiards anyone?  Getting snacks in Wori

We walked the Great Wall, up and down 12 Kilometres. We rode around Beijing on Beijing bikes, in and out of the hutongs, across the main intersections and into the bicycle parks. We wandered through the Muslim Quarter in Xian. We ate dumplings at a world famous Dumpling Restaurant. We saw monuments, ruins, and famous places and heard all their stories. We rode alongside massive rivers for days on end and were the only Westerners in town. We caught the cable car to a 365-day glacier and were photographed for our local Football Teams newsletter. We drank green tea, Jasmine tea and any other tea you can think of- delicious and very refreshing after a good ride up the mountains. We visited the Pandas and watched the babies frolic as they were being chosen to go to Korea. We rode through villages and were invited to dine. We met school children practicing their reading at playtime and teachers who wanted to practice their English. We waved and greeted about 1 billion of Chinas people.

Ian at the Hailougou Glacier

Cycling though the hills

We rode our mountain bikes through countryside, saw the farmers tilling the fields, amazed at the variety of vegetables and crops and smelt the smells of China. We visited some Tibetan peoples houses and saw a wedding procession in the streets. We ate and ate and ate! The food was nutritious and delicious and. We had noodles and chillies and garlic and yak and chicken and duck and vegetables and of course rice. The final dinner was a seafood feast surpassing all the others, except maybe The Lotus, a Buddhist Restaurant in Beijing.

Yet another feast for hungry cyclists

It's all downhill from here!  On top of the Balangshan Pass at 4,523 meters.

The people, the friendliness and the fun of the whole trip were fantastic. We wouldnt change anything- the hard days, the easy days and the ones in between. They all contributed to a great time in a great country, with a great company- Bike China.

Hiking rest stop in Rilong (Four Girls Mountains)

Ian enjoying a well deserved rest stop beside the raging river.

I cannot give Mike enough praise for the job he did. He certainly made our time in China a real pleasure and an unforgettable experience. . He was a mine of information, with a story for every occasion. He looked after us, worried about us and told me I was the number one age that had been on the trip (much nicer than being the oldest!) Thank you Mike for such a gracious and elegant way of putting it. Without Mike we might not have eaten and ours fears of organization would have been realised.

Our driver Mr. Ding shows us how it is done.

Also our thanks to Mr. Ding our wonderful driver. He also looked after us, kept up the water supply, loaded and unloaded our bikes and luggage, drove beautifully, ensured the plates and cutlery were clean and was always smiling.

On the road to Danba

Thanks also to Peter for organising everything, including a few extras for us and for running such a slick and professional business. I would recommend Bike China to any cyclist wanting an extra dimension to their time in China.

On the road to Wolong Panda Nature Reserve 

Counting down the kilometer markers

Kangding dead ahead, only 103 km to go!

Thank you Bike China for a once in a lifetime experience!!!

Jan Hoggart and Ian Dyer.
Victoria, Australia
August, 2005


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