What goes up apparently does not go down

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
1
149
360
Trip End Aug 21, 2011


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Where I stayed
Zheng Tai Business Hotel

Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This morning we decided to make the most of our cosy room, and the fact that we only had a short distance to do, so after our spicy noodle breakfast we spent a couple of hours reading and updating the blog. Setting off at 11, we met some happy businessmen who were also going to Zhao Tong and agreed with us that it was about 35 miles.
After 8 miles steady uphill we began to feel pretty tired and fed up, however we consoled ourselves with the fact that there was bound to be at least the same downhill, if not more. Another 3 miles up and we were very grumpy and stopped by the edge of the horribly dirty road to eat the last of our snacks. 2 more miles and we realised we had already been cycling for 3 hours, the time we had hoped we could arrive at Zhao Tong in! We had been travelling up through a wide gorge, with scattered farmhouses and nothing else. We managed to find a tiny snack shop in one cluster of houses and sorted through the pickled eggs and chickens intestines to find a pack of 10 fairy cakes. Luckily we bought the lot as they turned out to be our only source of sustenance for the rest of the journey.
We nailed 3 each, sitting round a fire with some friendly old guys who weren’t impressed that we were drinking Sprite  - they wanted us to have some of their tea and warm up. Despite the fact that it was snowing, continual cycling uphill was keeping us plenty warm enough. As usual, they also though that joining them smoking would help us – definitely not!
By the time we reached what appeared to be the top of the mountain, we had done 18 continuous miles uphill.  The fog was so thick we could barely see 50m, and when we reached a 1km tunnel, we had to walk through to keep safe. We did then have a couple of miles down, but then unbelievably the road began to climb again.  In the end, we did 26 miles up, 2 flat and 9 lovely down. It really was miserable and not only were we covered in mud from the filthy road, we continually had to dodge stupid drivers overtaking head on.
The worst part of the day was when we witnessed an enormous lorry lose control on a bend and crash through the barrier into a wall just 200m ahead of us. The driver and passenger jumped out of the cab just before it hit. As we drew level, we could see they were ok, but that the reason for their crash was another pile-up behind, with a lorry and a car. There was wreckage all over the road and cars were still coming from both directions, as we cycled through we knew we were really vulnerable and tried to get out of their as quickly as possible (difficult as it was still UPHILL!!). A huge jam formed and everyone was beeping and trying to serve round to see what was going on – absolute chaos.
When we eventually reached Zhao Tong at 6pm, we were starving, mud-covered and fed up. It had taken 7 hours, with no lunch and only tiny breaks. The hotel we found is lovely however, and at 23 pounds a night, another bargain. After a very welcome hot shower we headed out to see what the town had to offer and found the most scrumptious hot-pot dish to eat. A lady had clay pot over a roaring fire which turned out to contain rice, veg and bacon slivers – amazing, especially when washed down with local beer. Snuggled up in bed now, warm and fed, today does seem worth it, but we are both a bit nervous about just how much uphill is ahead on the way to Kunming. We’re also looking forward to being warm in the ‘spring city’. It’s SO COLD here.

A bum aching 37miles 26/37 UPHILL!!!!!
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