Today we have another 375 km planned and there are 3 passes to 4600, 5075, and 4200 m and the entire road serpentine to Dechen/Deqen.
The first checkpoint is just as we are leaving town.
The passes are reached by switch backs up and down. The first is almost straight up on tight long switchbacks.
Here we encountered another military convoy of at least 80-90 trucks. They are easy to pass and they are spaced and you can hyperpass.
The second pass is much more gradual and the turns long and shallow. The valleys in between and very green with lots of crops and colorful villages.
There were only 4 major check points today. The first was as we left town and this was quick. The second 100 km later and there was a store right there so we could get a snack while we waited for the guides. At the next one another 100 km later we had a bit of a longer wait for the guides ( here the police were so nice they even came out and gave us each bottle of water and wanted selfies with us). Then we stopped for lunch here in the town and had pretty good dumplings.
We left the 318 here and turned south on the 214. 70 km later there is the last checkpoint at the “Tibet border”. There are no formalities for exit unlike the hassle of an hour to get in.
Just after this we had to register with the Yunnan Police as we entered their Provence and this took 20 min.
Now we have 100 km to go at 3pm. The last pass was again more gradual.
We were stopped for construction for 25 min also so the good time we had been making was being eaten up. There was an excavator up on the cliff dumping piles of rocks down onto the roadway and then a front loader would come and scoop them up and drop them off the roadside.
The last pass ends with a view of the Baima Snow Mountains, which are sacred in Tibetan culture.
We arrived to the hotel at 630 just as the clouds were moving from the summit and the sun was setting. We are again at 3600 m.
We were up at 0630 to see the view and there were no clouds, but not enough light for photos. By sun rise there was a lot of cloud cover. It was still amazing.
We set out at 8 again on the curvy mountain roads and over one pass over 4200m. The gas station is just 10 km down the road and we pulled up to the pump and gassed up!!!
Summary of the route in Tibet!!
The skies were threatening for our 160 km ride in search of Shangra-La, but it did not start raining until the last 30 km.
We ran into a group of 10 Thai bikers at the gas station about half way.
There was one Police check and they just wanted to see the passports and let us go. We were a bit worried about the bike in the van and so we pulled over up the road to make sure they got thru. This gave us a good opportunity to put on the rain gear as we would soon need it.
The hotel we are booked in is near to the Old Town, but we took a cab 2 km away to a place Mr. Tang found online for a really good lunch. We had meaty pork ribs, cucumber in vinegar and wasabi sauce, Pineapple glutinous rice, and several other dishes.
We cabbed it back to the hotel (2$) and borrowed some umbrellas form the front desk. In the end we did not need them as the rain held off for a few hours. This was long enough to wander in the old town and visit the Lamastery with the massive prayer wheel.
It was pouring again at 6 and we cabbed it to the Yak hot pot place we had seen earlier in the day. Here you each get a bowl of broth and a burner and they put all kinds of delicious meats, veg, and noodles on the table. While you wait for your pot to boil you go to the “sauce” bar and concoct your own dipping sauce from the herbs, spices, chilies, and other condiments. This meal takes a while, but you can enjoy it slowly.
Today we are riding 173 km to Lijiang, but we will make a detour about 75 km from the city to see the Tiger Leaping Gorge on the Yangtze River. It had poured most of the night, but it had held off since 6 am. When we set out it was drizzling intermittently.
We continue one the 214, but it is almost all down hill today.
When we reached the gorge and the several hundred steps down to the raging river it was barely sprinkling, but when we had already reached the lunch spot 30 km later when it had stated to pour again.
The last 35 km are over the mountain on the old road to avoid the toll road (where we are not allowed technically). On the first uphill curve Trevor had just passed the van and was going around the corner when his front wheel slipped out and he slid wheel first into the concrete barrier. He was not hurt and only his left pannier was a bit banged up….agh. Arriving to the city we were staying in the old town this is a pedestrian only zone, but we have permission to bring the bikes into the hotel. The van had to be parked off site and the luggage was brought by porter. We are just bagged and Dan’s back is really bad today.
We rested in the hotel and then cabbed it across town for a real Sichuan dinner. Mr. Tang is from Sichuan Provence and since we will not be going there we though we should at least try the food. There is a huge wok in the center of the table and they heat up the oil and then slowly add the ingredients you order (chicken, peanuts, potatoes, and vegetables).
We have a free day today to wander around the 800 year old Lijiang old town. There are lots of tourist shops, but the town itself is very nice.
The forecast rain did not appear. There was a laundry across the main road near the hotel and all our clothes are clean (wow expensive).
The roads and streams all lead towards the Black Dragon Lake.
It is just as stunning at night!!