Puncture Count Piles Up

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

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Where I stayed
Filthy Truckers Stop

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Starting the day with a flat tyre is annoying.  In sub zero temperatures it is evn more annoying when all you want to do is get going and warm up.  So puncture number ? (will have to check back to India and find the current total) slowed us down and left me with very cold hands.  A friendly security guard stepped in to help, supplying me with a bowl of hot water to warm up my hands.  He then took Pols to the local moped shop to buy some handlebar gloves.  We have been looking at them for a few days and decided they had to be bought.  They are big furry mits that tie round the handlebars and your hands slip inside.  I was not even put off by the teddy bears prints on the top.
We stocked up with some good looking pastries and fruit and set off through Zhaotong to rejoin the highwqy that would hopefully deliver us to Kunming.  We soon had to stop, the cold overpowering us and forcing us to pull over to take respite from the wind chill.
The highway was a mixed bag today.  Some parts were straightforward.  Other times were slow with painful uphills.  We hit our first traffic jam.  100s of trucks and jeeps sat stationary.  It was very satisfying to coast past them on the bikes.  The road closure meant that we had it to ourselves and when we saw a sign which stated “20 km descent”, the pain of yesterday started to ease.  Justice, payback for the ridiculous uphill miles we suffered the day before. 
We enjoyed the downhill until Polly wobbled with a flat tyre.  Second puncture of the day was annoying but not the end of the world.  We then came to a long tunnel.  With no lights and a kilometre long, it was too risky to ride it.  Instead we pushed along an ill constructed pavement.  At one point I disappeared down a hole with the bike falling on top of me and crushing my leg against the curb.  Things are never straight forward when cycling around the world!
Back on the bike after the tunnel we were delighted to find that Polly had puncture number 3 of the day.  Out of spare tubes we had to repair the puncture using a ditch of water to locate the hole.  Thankfully that was the last trial of the day and with only about 15 miles to go we had our first glimpse of blue sky over China.  It really put everything in a new light.  We could actually see the mountains that we have been cycling through for days.  Settlements which looked miserable in the mist suddenly looked warm and happening.  The sun made everything look so pretty and it gave us the boost that we needed to complete the 160 miles to Kunming over the next 3 days.
The town we had picked out as an overnight stop looked good from a distance.  When we rode up to it there was less appeal.  After asking around for hotels we ended up in a real dump.  We will not be risking a shower tonight, I have seen better public toilets than the one attached to the pit we are staying in.  The evening meal however was entertaining and very satisfying.  We braved the evening cold to walk down the road and found a local place who were happy to help.  Instead of showing us a menu we were taken out the back to a shed which passed as the kitchen.  We pointed at a few vegetables and gave the thumbs up when she pulled a pigs leg off the shelf.  Half an hour later we were sitting at a table with a gas cooker in the middle.  A huge pan of boiling water with the pigs leg chopped into chunks was placed on the stove and we were given plates of potato, cabbage and spinach to cook ourselves.  It proved to be a cracking meal although the red sauce they encouraged us to dip everything in blew our heads off.  What we actually ate was boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes.  From Ireland to China in one easy step. 
Now in bed wearing jeans, coats and woolly hats.


A puncture filled 47 miles
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