The more we cycled West, the rougher it became. Roads, people, landscape, food. We had a lot to cycle to the border to Laos, so we pushed really hard, trying to make at least 90km every day. As always we used our smartphone for navigation, but it quickly turned out that Google did not catch up with China’s quickly changing road system yet. What was supposed to be a nice, paved road turned out to be a stretch of a narrow gravel nightmare.

Main road in Yunnan - according to google

Dusty road

Not only we had to cycle in dust – the number of punctures increased to sometimes 2 a day, slowing us down dramatically.

Cycling in dust

Fixing the puncture

Luckily the whole Yunnan province, considered one of the poorest, is developing quite quickly and after a couple of days of bad roads we could enjoy the smooth blackness of Chinese asphalt. Because bicycles are forbidden on highways, very often we had to take longer and much more hilly roads (average daily climbs reaching more than 1000m). On the other hand, they were very interesting – we cycled through villages were foreign tourists could be rarely seen.

Horse carriage

Carrying a lot

December in China is quite cold, and even on the West of the country temperatures could drop to 5C at night. We tried to escape from the cold by going West and South, the locals had no other option than warm themselves up with whatever was at hand.

Staying warm

Drying corn

Coming from the field

One of the aspects of travelling by bicycle that we really love is the rare opportunity to wander into places which you would never see if you travel by bus or train. We found villages where people looked at us as if we were ghosts, people that looked like coming straight out of the jungle, sometimes giving us goose bumps. Exploring local markets is one of our favourite activities, and we never stop wondering what people can offer or sell.

Busy market

Chinese ladies chatting on the market

Jewellery seller

Market hairdresser

Market lady

Now it is getting interesting…

Market dentist

Market medicine

Chicken products

Chinese butcher

Bloody market

Slaughtered cow

Too rough? This is the reality. If you live in Europe you do not see those images to often, do you? Here it is a part of the daily life and it only make us more sure, that being vegetarian is the right thing. Animals in Asia are more of material objects, source of food. It is difficult to accept it, when you see how many other options people have all around, with so many different kinds of plants…

Pigs having a walk

Too much for you? You can relax now.

Smoking fellows

Water buffalo