Time to cheat

It took us a day to get our bikes properly serviced and now they are fit for fight for the remaining distance to Bangkok. We don’t carry the tools needed to service the hubs and bearings ourselves so we’ll let someone take a look at them in about 3000 kilometers.

Whilst staying in Hami we started to discuss and investigate routes for the remaining distance through China and came to a couple of conclusions.

First conclusion was that we need to get rid of some of our baggage. We emptied our panniers and put everything in three piles – needed – maybe needed – absolutely not needed items. Then we packed most of the not needed and maybe needed things and sent to Bangkok. Wew also threw away some stuff. The box that went to Thailand weighs 3.5 kg and the bag we throw away maybe 2 kg so now we have plenty of room in our panniers.

So what did items did we get rid of?

We have two sets of off bike clothes and only kept one. Gloves, rain gear and warm fleece sweaters were all sent to Bangkok.

We knew it would be hard to find good quality spare parts in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the central asian republics so we carried a lot of extra wires, housing, nuts and bolts, chains and even a bottom bracket. In China there are good bike shops everywhere so we left all that at the hotel and hopefully someone will take care of it because the things are good and in working condition.

Are we brave or stupid to get rid of our rain gear and sweaters when we plan to ride some high altitude roads?

We don’t know – future will prove it was a good decision, but we reason that if it gets cold we can buy a new sweater. They actually produce such things here in this country… 😉 And we have kept the jackets that Klättermusen kindly sponsored us with. They are made of tightly wowen cotton and can take a lot of rain before we get will wet and they are much more ventilating than the goretex jackets sent home.

With bikes serviced and panniers a lot lighter we feel we are ready for the journey through China.

We went shopping in a supermarket and found this. Anyone who would like a pigs face for dinner???

We went shopping in a supermarket and found this. Anyone who would like a pigs face for dinner???

Next conclusion was that we also have run into a problem regarding our visas. They are valid until October 10 and we expect to be around Chengdu by then. It is usually possible to extend visas with 30 days and that is what we have counted on. One problem is that when it is time to apply for extension we will be in the middle of the ”Golden week” (october 1-7) when China closes down and every one goes away on holiday. We suspect that this applies to the guys at the visa extension office too.

Another problem is that China introduced a new legislation on September 1st and the rumours say that it will be more difficult to get extensions after this change. Beside this our passports (we have two each) with the chinese visas will have a too short remaining validity (lacks two weeks) when it is time to renew the visa which may, or may not, cause us a problem.

We have been resting safely in the thought that we would have no visa related problems left, but when we discovered this we decided to stay yet another day in Hami to investigate everything and make back up plans. The backup plan is to combine a few rest days with a visa run to Hong Kong, which is a city we have planned to visit some time anyway.

Everything takes very long time in China since most communication needs to be done through translation apps in smartphones (these apps are good, but still need to be worked on… 😉 ) and it took us one day to get the bikes serviced, one day to go through what to send home, locate the post office and once there get the staff to understand what we wanted. Then we spent half of the third day in Hami googleing the internet for visa related information and info about our coming route.

Our visa situation and the knowledge that we still have around 1000 km of desert to ride we had to make a decision. If we want to ride all the way it has to be on the shortest and maybe not most interesting roads. We prefer mountains to deserts 10 days in a week and there are lots of desert and mountains ahead. Since we have seen a lot of desert already we decided to press FF (fast forward on a tape recorder if you remember those relics from the 80:s) and take a bus to cover the distance we couldn’t cycle when we stayed in Hami.

Buying a ticket wasn’t simple at all. First we spent two hours in the hotel’s reception trying to ask the front desk staff about how train tickets are bought in China. Then one of the staff got in a car and followed us to the train ticket office only to find out that tickets that day were sold out. We then continued to the bus station and bought tickets to Guazhou 450 km away.

We wouldn’t have been able to sort this out ourselves and we are very grateful to the lady at the hotel who helped us securing tickets.

Somebody knocked on the door to the hotel room yesterday night. It turned out to be the man on the MTB who took us out for dinner the first night in Hami. He came to say good bye and had his son Wang Yudo with him. The boy is only 11 and wanted to practise his English, which is already good for his age. We spent a few hours looking at photos from places we have visited before they left.

When we arrived at the bus station in the morning our MTB friend was there to help us find the right bus and talk to the driver to accept carrying our bikes. It was very kind of him to turn up to do this and we are very grateful since it saved us a lot of headache.

I am writing this post on the bus. Our bikes and panniers are stored in the cargo hold below us and are hopefully enjoying the company of a live sheep in a sack and a box of mice that was loaded at the first stop after leaving Hami.

I have not been too happy about having to cheat and go by bus, but when I see the boring sandy landscape outside the window that we have seen so much of already, I am happy that we skip this part and now I look forward to riding in green surroundings and climbing steep hills in central China……

The sheep in a sack watches our panniers put on top of a box with live mice

The sheep in a sack watches our panniers put on top of a box with live mice

15 thoughts on “Time to cheat

  1. Kalle

    Klokt beslut. Ni är väl inte där för att bevisa att det går att cykla till Thailand? Det visste ni väl redan. Vitsen är väl att förverkliga en dröm att se vägen dit, och att ha det bra på vägen. Dessutom kan ni säkert hitta en mysig kulvert att sova i längre fram också så det missar ni inte heller.


    1. admin Post author

      Tack för stödet.
      Syftet med resan är att se vad som finns mellan Sverige och Thailand och vilka som bor där. Nu har vi sett väldigt mycket öken och hellre än att senare tvingas ta bussen förbi andra spännande områden i Kina så hoppar vi lite öken för att vara på säkra sidan.

    1. admin Post author

      Hej Styrbjörn,
      Kul att du hittat hit till vår blogg. Om du söker dig tillbaka till inläggen från “Day 7” eller om det var “Day 8” så hittar du en bild på dig själv och oss när vi gjorde vårt besök i Tunneboden….

      Hälsa folket på Stumholmen 🙂

  2. Pål

    It’s not called cheating, it’s called facilitating!

    Helt klart otroligt komplext projekt ni har gett er in på och flexibilitet krävs för att kunna genomföra det. Saknar ni de 450 km ni tog buss, kan ni ju ta en omväg någon annanstans! 😉

    Lycka till med visumproblematiken!


    1. admin Post author

      Komplexiteten är nog större än vi själva anat innan. Vi har planerat för det mesta men vissa delar har vi förbisett. 450 km tar vi snabbt igen, kanske genom att cykla Bangkok-Sattahip ToR i december efter avklarad tur…. 🙂

  3. Wu Quan (a lonely little boy in the desert)

    Hello, my name is Wu Quan (my friends would call me WuQu if I had any friends). I’m living with my family in the village of Qu Wuan (QuWu for short) which is about 372.6 kilometres through the desert East of Hami. Not much happens here. Once one of our chickens got free and it took me 2 days to catch it, but that was 3 year, 2 months and 12 days ago. My family and I found your blog when a truck driver told us about you and since then we’ve been counting the days to when you would be cycling through our little village. We have been so excited! Last week we even got permission to call our house a hotel and to be able to take foreign tourists as guests – the only such hotel within 400 kms! We’ve prepared a big festival for your arrival, grandma has made some dumplings and we were going to sacrifice one of our chickens (not that one) to make a meal of 17 different courses for you. You can therefore not even begin to imagine how disappointed we all were to see you speed past on the bus the other day. You didn’t even wave! I think you were just writing on your computer or sleeping or something. Just think what you missed. Nothing happens here in QuWu and now that you didn’t ride here on your bicycles even less happens. Now I guess I’ll just have to eat grandma’s dumplings for the next 6 weeks. Bye bye..

    1. admin Post author

      According to our own recent experiences donkey dumplings are much tastier than chicken dito. If you want us to stop next time you will have to sacrifice a donkey….. 😉 If you don’t have any donkey, it would also be OK if you sacrificed a pinarello….

      We did wave as we passed through Qu Wuan where we saw an old woman who might well be your grandmother. She was laughing intensively and the source of her amusement seem to have been a boy who was chased around in the backyard by a single chicken that looked to be about 3 years and four months old….


      1. Wu Quan (a lonely little boy in the desert)

        Hmmm.. We have a tradition in our village that when we sacrifice an animal then the guest has to kiss it first. So if you want me to make you donkey dumplings then first you have to kiss my ass!
        Happy trails!

        1. admin Post author

          To all other readers – don’t be worried. The little boy “Wu Quan” and I are good friends.
          We actually belong to the same cycling club and have cycled many thousand kilometers together and both of us like joking …. 🙂 🙂 🙂


          1. Wu Quan (a lonely little boy in the desert)

            Thanks Joakim – yes I was only joking 😉 Hope all is going well now that you can see the mountains and hopefully some green fields ahead of you. Here in Älmhult it feels like the long summer is coming to and end. Rain, wind and dark before 8pm. Take care, Iain

  4. vachanun vetchupakorn

    เป็นยังไงบ้าง? ยังสบายดีอยู่ใช่ไหมคะ? เดินทางโดยสวัสดิภาพตลอดเส้นทางนะ อย่าเจ็บ อย่าป่วย อย่าไข้ ทั้ง 2 คนเลยนะ จงแข็งแรงไม่เจอสิ่งกีดขวางใด ๆ มาถึงพม่า เข้าสู่ประเทศไทย ทะลุถึงกรุงเทพโดยเร็วพลัน

    1. admin Post author

      สบายดีทั้งสองคนแหละ เราไม่ได้เข้าทางพม่าแต่จะไปทางลาว ลองเข้าไปดู Route Plan จะเห็นว่าเราจะไปทางไหนนะ

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