China: Yunnan to Xinjiang
I'm heading to China in a couple of weeks to cycle from Laos to Kyrgyzstan. If anyone's done this route or parts of it before, I'd love to hear any advice you've got.
In particular: What maps did you use?
Did you take a tent or was it reasonably easy to find accommodation along the way?
Any trouble form the police?
I'm aware that it's illegal to cycle through Tibet, so I'm planning to skirt round it, although there seem to be plenty of accounts on the net from people who have cycled there. However there are other areas which I've read can be closed to independent foreign travellers, eg. the road east from Khotan / Hotan. Does anyone know where I can find up to date information about this?
Thanks in advance for your help.
Punk Rock Lives
Just a couple generic comments, since things in China change frequently and any advice is dated by the time the ink dries. First, I found wild camping to be readily available in rural areas around rice paddies and the extensive 'reforestation' plots that they have in the country. Nor do you need to wild camp; i was able to find cheap accomodation almost everywhere. I would be eating dinner in a small outdoor 'restaurant' (I use the term loosely) and would make sleeping sounds and noises, and often the folks had a room available for cheap.
Originally Posted by cyclingmat
I had mixed results with the police. Usually they just wanted to see my passport. If you deal with the national police, the Gong'An, perhaps it will be less pleasant but in general I found cyclists have good rapport in the countryside.
You may hear you need 'permission' to bring your bike into China. I had no problem ( I also had a fake document I was gonna show if they asked for one, but thats a different story. ). The problem is that customs officials often make their own rules. I crossed into China from Vietnam along the coastal route, not the main crossing most people take.
I went into 'closed areas' three times. One time they let me thru, no problem. One time they put me on a bus to the other side (which was good cause the road was washed out, anyway). The third time they stopped me dead in my tracks and made me go back. I would push the envelope a bit, if I were you. It encourages the Chinese authorities to open regions, especially to cyclists. But follow whatever rules they give you on the ground...violation of some closed areas (such as the Sonningjia region, which is where I was turned back) involves fines in the thousands of dollars. They'll put ya in jail till ya pay! )
good luck cycling mat. I'm sorry I don't have many answers for you though. Peter Snow at bikechina.com told me a while ago that he heard the route from Chengdu to Lhasa would open up to cyclists. He had not heard of anyone actualy doing it legaly. I'm planning a route from Vietnam to Chengdu to Lhasa and on to Kathmandu so I'm very interested in what you learn / find out on your way. Are you doing a website or such? Again, good luck and may the wind be at your back!
Very rigid mountain biker
What part of Kyrgyzstan will you be traveling in? After the little US and Soros sponsored "revolution" there is now all sorts of **** going on in the south of the country. I'd be careful, or better yet head a little northwest and just go to Kazakhstan.
Originally Posted by cyclingmat