22nd April - 7th May 2004
From Mojiang we had 7km happy kilometers on tarmac and then turned south on a dirt road. We cycled through a banana growing region, most of the vehicles were banana trucks taking mountains of green bananas north to Kunming and beyond. We were lucky enough to see one being loaded and were given big bunches of the unwanted yellow ones. They are much tastier and fresher than the ones you get in Tescos!
The weather was consistently hot and sunny. We started at 7am and stopped as soon after midday as possible. Further south the road became cobbled. I think the Chinese have so much cheap labour that it is cheaper to cobble a road than to tarmac it, but it is a dreadful surface for cycling! The photo below shows us spending the afternoon resting by the roadside in the shade.
The cobbles lasted about 20km and then we got tarmac to the town of Jiangcheng. On the way we saw tea planations.
One damp day while having a pee a strange caterpillar caught my attention. It was looping its way over to my foot, but somehow looked wrong for a caterpillar. As it attached itself to my sandal and refused to be shaken off I realised it was a leech! I hastily removed my bare foot from the sandal and took the photo below. To my horror, just after I'd taken the photo the leech crawled into one of the sandal strap holes and disappeared completely. All I could do was put on a thick sock and the sandal and do a kind of Maori war dance in the hope of squashing it - so far it hasn't reappeared!
After Jiangcheng we had tarmac for 30km and then turned off back on to the dirt. We were close to the Lao border now although still a couple of hundred kilometers from the only crossing point open to foreigners. When we passed a "locals only" border crossing point we began to see more lorries and the road got worse. Thank goodness it wasn't raining!
At one point we stopped at a restaurant for a break from the sun. There were posters on the wall depicting "Protected Species of Yunnan", the owner pointed to a picture of a bear, pulled a lump of meat out of the freezer and asked us if we wanted some!
Soon after the photo above we rejoined the highway which took us to Mohan, the Chinese border town. On the way we stopped in Mengla and visited the nearby "Aerial Walkway Park". Here we got an unusual view of the forest from narrow walkways suspended between the trees. We didn't see much wildlife but the trees were impressive and we saw lots of insect life.
Then it was across the border and into Laos!
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