Yunnan from the saddle

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, June 16, 2015
Adjust font size:

A Buddhist monastery in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province. [Photo by Belle Taylor / China Daily]

Xishuangbanna has some of China's most stunning scenery. Belle Taylor travels by bicycle to some of the most remote locations.

For most of the journey, I am so far behind everyone else that I am alone.

Just me, my bike and the rolling tea plantations of Southwest China's Yunnan province, offering up spectacular vistas at every turn.

The view from the bike is idyllic, the situation on the bike less so. The southern part of Yunnan is hilly - much more than I had anticipated. I pant up the hills with every muscle screaming. The temperature is hitting the mid-30s and sweat drips into my eyes. What sort of person embarks on a 400-kilometer bike trip in southern Yunnan with no training? I wonder as I struggle up another hill. But as soon as I reach the top the reward is worth the pain - lush, green rolling hills, blue skies, powder-white clouds and a gentle breeze. In the distance I can see the golden roof of a pagoda and a farmer working the fields. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

The area I am cycling through is Xishuangbanna, the southern part of Yunnan province. While my ride often solo journey, cycling a few clips ahead of me is the rest of the tour group, organized by The Hutong, a cultural center based in Beijing. The annual trip takes in some of the most remote parts of Yunnan, and we cycle into towns that have only been accessible by road for a matter of months. We spend one night in a five-star hotel, another in a guesthouse, but most of the time we are the grateful guests of the local villagers who generously open their homes to a group of sweaty cyclists. We sleep next to each other in a line on the floor, usually in wooden houses, typical of the area. The houses are built on raised wooden stilts with the family's animals living underneath. In one house we get a fitful sleep as an antsy pig keeps rolling up against a pillar beneath us, making the entire house rock on its foundations.

The area we are traveling was once part of the ancient tea road - and not much has changed since those caravans of traders passed through.

Tea is the main crop in this area, as it has been for centuries. We pass many kilometers of tea crops. Less romantic, but no less important to the area is rubber. There are forests of rubber trees, hoses sticking out of them from which rubber runs out as if on tap.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from