Highway to Heaven

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Huang Lian River Hotel

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Monday, January 24, 2011

Waking up in our grotty room, having been kept awake by seriously noxious septic river smells coming through the poorly insulated window, we had a quick coffee in bed while watching yet more of the Australian Open. Downstairs, we met our lovely friend WangHuaQiang and he insisted we had some breakfast, as made by his mum. Noodles with egg were delicious and we ate them by a coal burning heater, keenly watched by another hotel resident.  WangHuaQiang absolutely wouldn’t take any money for the hotel or breakfast, which felt so wrong, but was so kind of him. He even gave us the number of a friend of his from college who spoke really good English so that we could call him if we got into trouble at any point. Having seen the photos of us in the snowy tent, I think he was worried!
Back on the expressway, we cycled 37miles without any problems. After 8miles uphill we had at least 10 down and then gently rolling hills, which felt fine after everything that had gone before. We have not been able to cycle next to each other, clipped into our pedals since Europe, and it was amazing to make steady progress and be able to talk to each other rather than focussing on either terrible road/traffic or both. The expressway is an amazing construction, sweeping through a deep gorge and consisting of enormously long bridges followed by lengthy tunnels.
At 37 miles we hit a town and sadly the expressway ended at some tollgates. The gates had caused a massive traffic jam, and we were beeped and waved at by holiday makers and lorry drivers stuck in it. After a quick snack we set off on the G080, a single carriageway with no hard shoulder. Although there was some stupid driving from BUS DRIVERS as usual, the traffic was pretty light and we continued to make good progress.
By 46 miles we were starting to tire and stopped by the road to drink yet more Pepsi. Amazingly we saw that a brick-pathed track running below was in fact the elusive 213 – the road we had lost two days before! Continuing on a mile we saw a biggish town miles up on the hillside and realised that it must be ‘Daguan’ – the  town we had been asking for directions to for days but had given up hope of ever seeing. The 213 snaked up for at least 3 miles to the town and, too tired, we decided to carry on and hope there was another way up. Rounding a corner we came across another enormous traffic jam and saw the lorries carrying pigs which had passed us at the Toll gate 15 miles earlier. They had clearly been stuck ages (there were about 100 cigarette butts on the floor by each cab) and we felt very smug as we whizzed past them all.
Even better, as we got to the front of the traffic jam we found a relatively gentle road sloping up into Daguan. Mikey asked a policeman where there was a good hotel, and he led us there in his van. I had started to feel hopeful when he passed several grim looking hostels and sure enough he pulled up outside a huge place. Inside a smiling lady showed me a lovely room, with heating and a spotless bathroom – heaven. The porter was an absolute beast of a man who effortlessly lifted Mikey’s insanely heavily bike up the 7 steps into the lobby, leaving Mikey to struggle with mine.
Showering was absolute bliss, as was an amazing meal we just had in the hotel restaurant. As usual the menu was only in Chinese and we were fustratedely scanning the phrase book trying to order something sensible when two delicious looking plates went past on their way to someone else.  We pointed and it turned out to be meat dumplings and some amazing pork fat dish with chillies. It must have had about a million calories, but probably very good for cycling. The porter saw us as we were leaving and said ‘wow!’ at the difference in our appearance. We were completely mud spattered and destroyed on arrival! Even now, sitting in bed writing this, I can my muscles feel terrible, as do my poor bruised legs. (They are black and blue from falling off in the snow!) This must be full of mistakes as I’m falling asleep – Night night xxxx

A straightforward 49 miles
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Amanda Mae on

I'm so glad you are meeting nice people who are looking after you a bit, I always feel a bit emotional when I read your blog, miss you lots xxx

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