We had to get out of the hotel in Yang Xian, the cigarette smoke infused bed linen, no food, fungi around the bath. I know – I can hear you saying we are a bunch of softies. Anyway it was so bad we even got up early to get away. At least it was relatively cheap.
Said goodbye to a great bunch of British birdwatchers who where enjoying their last day seeing the Japanese Ibis.
For today we have asked Paul to choose a route that will give us great scenery and no motorways. We have a problem coming into Xi’an in that no motorbikes over 125 cc are allowed into the City centre. However Richard has a good friend in town who has a good friend in the city council and there maybe a solution.
Texts are still coming through from John who is now trying to escape from Beijing back to UK. Apparently not enough “chops” in his passport. They try and give him a rough time but what are they going to do -lock him up and tell him he has to live in China for the rest of his life. In fact the authorities are usually very polite and reasonable with these hitches- no doubt he will get through.
Off into the countryside and a trip through the Qingling Hills. Rolls Royce, by the way, named many of its engine’s after British rivers, The Trent, the Spay, and in fact sold the licence to manufacture the Spay engine to the Chinese who rather engagingly decided to name its own engines after its mountain ranges, So the Chinese version of the the Rolls Royce Spay engine is called the Qingling engine!!!
Here we are starting what is going to be one of the great rides of the trip. 250 kms of switch back on mountain roads . I am riding John’s bike and so have less opportunity for taking photographs but we do have some great moments. I bitterly regret not stopping to photograph two guys with a tractor and cart who had two cormorants sitting on perches . The Chinese use these birds to catch fish in the mountain streams. They put rings around their necks to stop them swallowing the fish. I think that some of them become so well trained that they can manage without the rings and get a treat at the end of a few dives.
We stop for a drink at a small house beside the river and chat to a couple who have clearly had a hard life.
This road is a great challenge for biking because every mile or so the surface has fallen into the river and although rebuilt we have to go off piste with gravel and sometime mud . This is fine for cars but bikes fall over in the skiddy stuff and so we ride standing on the pegs which allows the heavy bikes to find their own way.
We stop to say hello to some Chinese big bikers. They have a lot of trouble getting their bikes in and have probably taken some “short cuts” to get BMWs and big Hondas onto their roads. They wear simple clothes and a few knee pads
Before we come out of the hills we try one of the small suspension bridges across the gorge
For reasons we don’t understand large motorbikes (over 125 cc ) are banned from many of China’s big cities. Xi’an is ginormouse probably as big as London. We are led down through the last section of the Chinling Hills and onto a massive Xi’an ring road .
My helmet is hurting , and I have a numb right side of my face where the helmet has pressed all day on one of my cranial nerves. The temperature is 36 deg C and my arse is sore. Eventually we get to the outskirts of Xi’an and unbelievably our police escort is waiting!!!!. Out riders -the lot! We charge through 30 Kms of Xi’an with the blue lights flashing. Right into the Soffitel. It has been one of the best days and I am very grateful for the opportunity to ride into the central plain of China on John’s bike. Covered in sweat and diesel oil ( we spilt it while refueling the van) we stop out side the reception where some tosser has left his Lambourghini . I have to have a shot standing by it!!
Great beer in the bar and now a few more days rest to fix some of the electrics on the bikes and most importantly to visit Rihard’s charity that cares for orphaned children.