17 January 2015

Ride to China -The search for the Lost Horizon .....Shangri-La : Part 1


How to start ?????
At the beginning i guess. In 2011 Han and i rode to the border of Laos and China. 

It was the biggest achievement for us and looking over the border to China set a spark in us. 

3 years later we decided to make the dream into reality. 
It took a lot of planning ,hard work ,research  and countless emails.  
But in the end we did it  :-)

In 1933 James Hilton wrote a book called the ''Lost Horizon''
A film adaptation was made in 1937 and another in 1973. As a very young child in the 70's i watched that film ,and i can still remember the scenes. 

So.......
Our plan was to ride from KL( Malaysia) to the fabled Shangri-La(China). 
We knew we were going in the worst weather ,winter ... but that was the only time where a long leave could be had. 
So as usual we'll jump head first and hope for the best :-)

** All the ''on the bike photos'' are by Han ,and most of the photos were fantastic .
** This ride , our Vietnam ride in 2012 , our Myanmar ride 2011  are all thanks to our friend Ibrahim (Yempaul) from Singapore.  A pioneer adventurer and explorer who shared all the information freely  and generously. Thank you bro from the both of us.


Preparation

Paperwork +++++++++


Altitude sickness pills

A printout of Yempaul's et al bikes in front of the Jade Dragon snow mountain.

Kept in front of my treadmill. Inspiration. 

We both had to get cardio fit to be able to ride at more than 10,000 feet safely. 
Han's cardio cycle. I lost more than 8 kgs before this ride. Its a good thing i've got a lot to spare ha ha ha  

Visa's . Sent through a travel agency .Saves time and effort.

Discussions.

Stickers. 
The design and everything else was done by Han.  I failed arts in school ....really.
Very nice huh .

And after a year of this .....D-day !!!!!


Day 0

We were supposed to start our ride on the 10th  ,do 1300km on day 1 .And on day 2 do 1000km.
With a bit of juggling of our schedules we managed to get half the day off on the 9th .So we left early and will head to the border so tomorrows ride will be less strenuous.

At the RV point where our friends came to send us off.

Finally, time for China Doll ride  :-P

This is after a full day at work.

A consistent and steady speed.


Short breaks then , on the bike again.

A bit of eye candy near Ipoh.


Green... we must be near Kedah.

True enough soon we reached the busy border ,crossed and finally sat down .

Our last great dinner till we get back here.


Day 1

Today is the 1st official day of riding.

Bike still shiny...

Our plan is to go as far as possible.

Lovely Thai roads.


OTB selfie ha ha ha

Our favourite rest stop. 


Max only for 15 mins.


From dawn till dusk... 

....we ride.


The views help keep us happy.

We generally stop hourly.

Meet Eddy from Penang who is on a solo Thai ride.

He joined us for a couple of hundred kms.

2 GSs and a Harley overtook our slow 120kmph 


After the traffic light they disappeared  :-)


Another break.....

The longer the distances the easier we take it.


At a traffic light i get off the bike and let the blood flow again   :-)

From morning to night  ,still we ride.
This is our dinner. 
Nice huh. 

About an hour later we called it a night and found a hotel at a town just above Bangkok . 15 hours on the bike.




Day 2

Up early.

Fans of Red Versys  :-)

Time to ride.


Again , lovely Thai roads.


After an hour and a half.


Today we ride to the Thai /Laos border.

A long way to go.


Road trains...

A short break at the road side.

That termite mound has become a shrine.


Letting the blood flow  :-)

We were joined by a group of Thai bikers here.

Nice .

Many bikers were heading north to the Taichelik bike week.
Classic BMWs .

We have a long way to go so no racing.

Lovely sky.

Getting to evening here.

Also getting a bit hilly.


Curves  :-)

Dinner    ....
By the road side again. 

Chiang Rai here around midnight..
60 km to the border took us another hour and a half as our GPS took us through a short cut that entailed riding off road for kilometers on end ,all this at 1.30am...wihuuuuuuuu

Stupid GPS 


Finally at 2am we reached the border. 
And the whole day's riding was worth it as we sat on our balcony and looked at Laos across the Mekong river .

Then we oso kong   :-)


Day 3

Lack of sleep is immaterial .

The Mekong in the early morning.

Still shiny   hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Nice .... A river of legend.


Laos   :-)

Our breakfast terrace... 



A short visit to the river side.

You can swim to Laos from here  :-)

Nice hotel .



A last look.

We have to get to the China border today.

So to save time we got an agent on the Thai side and Laos side to settle everything for us.
( Again thanks to Yempaul )

The last time we crossed into Laos took us around 3 hours for both the border formalities.

The new immigration complex.


Finished.

Following our escort car.


Crossing the Mekong


Laos baby   :-)



Now the Laos side...


The last time we came here we had to take the barge across.

Our Lao agent handled everything.

Standing on Laos soil .


A brand new place. 

Need to change some money...

Here  :-)

Guess how long both the borders and everything took us.

40 minutes.  :-)  :-)

Time to ride .

Today is the last we feel the suns heat.


This is LAOS !!!!!!!

Still in the flat lands.

Climbing.

A short stop in a village.


Typical Laotian look


The ubiquitous photo of Laos


Go pro taking a pic of me taking a pic   :-)

ADV rider   :-)


ha ha ha    ....busy roads


locals.....

Life is hard for them

Back on the road.

And the roads have improved a lot in the 3 years we last were here.


Non stop corners since entering Laos.


But the views.....



Back on the road.


We wanted to take a break in Luang Namtha for an early dinner.



Again ...the views............


Beautiful .


Such a beautiful country.




Back on the road.


Great weather makes for grippy roads.



More views .


A short break by the road side .




ADV rider in action

Nice shot .

Nice  :-)


The sheer joy of riding :-)

Local staple transport

ha ha ha

Back on the bike .

Every day ,.....

.....the only thing we think of is ...

...time ,distance and fuel left .

We topped up our tanks in Chiang Kong.....

...and the next fill up will be in China .

What a nice shot :-)

This is riding in Laos.

This also   :-)  

Farmers .

Finally reached Luang Namtha .


The shop we were looking for was missing .

So we decided to head straight to the border .



After a short break .

Asking for directions .

Not too far more ....

Evening already .

Nice huh .

Almost at the border .

Finally found the only hotel .

 :-)  :-)      no one speaks a word of English .

There is no food .

The shops in town were closed- 8pm. We managed to persuade a lady who was closing up to make a simple egg fried rice for us .
Food for us is not important. We think of it as only fuel for the body.
If we want a fancy meal ,we can get it everyday in Malaysia. During the ride , its just fuel .

The 2 cup noodles and nescafe 3 in 1 are on stand by in case there is no breakfast tomorrow .

looking far into the distance.........or hotel room wall . ha ha ha

We both were like that. 
For tomorrow we ride in China. 
We still can't believe it .....
CHINA  !!


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