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Mount Everest Base Camp through 6 Chinese province ending in Kathmandu, Nepal


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The Idea

 

 

 

In 2011, together with 5 other friends, my wife and I went 2 up on the triple black to Yunnan Province, China. That journey took us till Shangri La County. The experience and scenery was really spectacular back then. However, our China guide casually mentioned that the views in Tibet and Xinjiang were much more stunning than what we have seen. That comment triggered the desire to find out how amazing the view is as how a local claimed. Yunnan was enchanting but I was determined to see China's best.

 

 

As soon as we completed our adventure in Yunnan, I started some sketch of plans on my next ride. Xinjiang seemed far fetch initially, but after few weeks of close study on the map, along with the countless emails exchange with our China fixer, I figured out 42 days should be sufficient.

 

Having had one riding experience in China and the costs involved, I knew that keeping the group small will result in having to pay a ridiculous amount of money. Well, if it is low cost to ride in China, Boten immigration would have been busy with riders from south. So i need to be realistic on the cost requesting the Chinese fixer every single breakdown of what we are forking out for.

 

 

And so...the search for riders with similar passion began.

 

 

 

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Taken at Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China in 2011

 

 

 

 

Preparation

 

 

Plenty of meetings were held. Initially we set on the number of participants to 12. Soon enough all 12 places were rapidly filling up . In the meantime, plenty of emails and phone calls were conversed with the Chinese fixer on the routes to be taken. Midway through the planning, a couple of riders expressed great interest to join the adventure. However, these riders could not afford to spare 42 days of leave. Thus, the entire plan was revamped with an additional 8 riders.

 

A new route was then planned. The entire group will ride from Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos-Yunnan Province-Sichuan Province-Qinghai Province-Xinjiang Province. The initial 12 riders will ride from Golmud to Kashgar via the Southern Silk Road to Karakoram Highway-Kashgar-Urumqi -Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu while the other 8 riders will break away from Golmud and head on to Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu.

 

As the fixer set on the dates for the documentations to be submitted, the team got around on countless of meetings and discussions on logistics and working out on the cost.

 

We also got around approaching distributors who's caught huge interest in our run and offered significant knock off rates in support of our expedition.

 

 

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The countless gatherings, mass orders of parts and essentials, visits to embassies, delegation of tasks, application of necessary documents and at the same time shuffling with day time job that we are holding, There was never a single session where all the riders were present in any of the meetups. Not until the last gathering which was 5 days before departure. That night, our good friend, Danial Hakim, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph each and every rider.

 

 

 

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It's amazing to see these 20 enthusiasts of different professions and backgrounds coming together shedding differences in sync for one big journey together. This an exceptionally big group for me as I normally prefer to travel in smaller numbers.

Edited by yem_paul

http://yempaulantonio.blogspot.sg

 

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15 August 2013 - The Advance Team

 

 

Our advance team of 3 left a day earlier where Fazlee and Kachuak on their 135ccs will be heading up on their own and rendezvous at Chiang Khong not after a little spin around the Golden Triangle. Yup you read it right, 2 mopeds along with the big trallies.

 

 

 

Doc Liang left the morning of 16th and will meet the rest later in Hatyai.

 

 

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16 August 2013 - The Ride Began

 

 

16 August, the day of departure. Anwar had kindly offered to use Jurong West Sports Complex as the send off venue. A huge group turned up for the send off. Friends and families arrived that evening to bid the riders farewell and well-wishes. Very grateful we were.

 

 

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17 August 2013 - Malaysian NSH - Hatyai - Chiangmai

 

 

Thailand's southern border of Dannok was busy as always on weekends so we opted out for "express service". RM15 should clear you off quickly and save you at least an hour of queuing up time. As soon as we cleared BKH - Danook border, we're headed for Hatyai Airport where the truck was waiting. The bikes will be transported to Chiang Khong and we flew to CNX on the same day. This arrangements allows us in preserving energy as our ride will only resume in Laos. Some had casually told me off that it's not adventure enough putting our rides on a truck. These people obviously haven't realized the effects of fatigue from serious long distance trips, and true enough, it started to affect us as we realized it later part of the journey. It's our 42 days and we chose our routes.

 

 

The boys had some time to explore Chiangmai. Lively city, big night bazaars and a great place to just explore the area. Some of our loved ones flew in to join us. But in the meantime, further north, the 2 mopeds traveled Northern Thailand.

 

 

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Edited by yem_paul

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Back in the south, in the wee hours along North South Highway.

 

 

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That afternoon, we caught a flight for Chiangmai while Vin and Zainal spent the night in Hatyai since there's a small glitch with another truck. They took an early flight the next day.

 

 

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18 August 2013 - Chiangmai

 

 

Took the day for scrumptious Thai food plus visiting old friends.

 

 

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Edited by yem_paul

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19 August 2013 - Chiang Mai

 

 

 

2 nights in Chiang Mai and its time to move on. The 17 riders will head to Chiang Khong for collection and unloading of the bikes. All 20 riders will regroup there and head to Boten the following day. We hired 2 vans to get us there. Thanks to Francis Chua of Autocom for the arrangements.

 

While in Chiang Rai, we visited the white temple and hot spring before picking up Doc Liang who chosed a quieter place for his r and r.

 

 

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20 August 2013 - Chiang Khong - Boten

 

 

Arrived Chiang Khong late evening. Finally the full strength of 20 riders gathered at Rimnam Guest House.

 

 

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Getting the paper work done in Chiang Khong was exceptionally different from my previous crossings here. Apparently, now there is the custom conveyance form that needed to be completed. Laws that have been in place 20 years ago will be enforced from now on according to the officers. The last time I filled up those form were some 7 years ago in Chongmek border. It took us all 3 hours to clear the custom. Once all was settled, we rolled down for the barge.

 

 

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After the barge crossing, the riders didn't have to wait long for paperwork clearance. The team had already engaged the service of a Laos guide who made prior arrangements for swift clearance. It is mandatory to have a guide in Laos if you are traveling in groups of 4 or more. This ruling was made known when I tried crossing Hongsa border earlier in January.

The charges for the Laos guide which includes caravan permit, insurance, easy clearance as well as police escort all the way to Boten was 2000 baht per person.

 

 

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Edited by yem_paul

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Along the way to Luang Namtha, a small mishap happened. A dog ran into Sess' path. Witnessing the whole ill fortune as I was 2 bikes away, there was nothing Sess could do to avoid it. The impact resulted in the rider doing a 360 deg flip once while the bike did a 360 deg flip three times. The poor dog died on the spot.

 

After some adjustments on the bike, it was good to go while the rider suffered some bruises. Apparently the Dainese took the brunt of it. The rider was still in high spirit though. Strong chap, and he continued the rest of the journey without a windshield and broken panniers. Well done Sess!! Not that the roadkill didn't matter much. But it was a big dinner for a family who picked up the poor dog.

 

 

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Due the accident, the troop arrived Boten late. The mood was a bit somber but Sess assured us he's OK and ready to continue.

 

Total distance covered from Chiang Khong to Boten : 230 km

 

 

 

21 August 2013 - Boten - Jinghong

 

 

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After clearing custom, we headed to Mengla. This is the town where we need to get our Chinese license. We arrived at the traffic police at 1145. Unfortunately, the office was closed for lunch from 1130 to 1500 pm. So the whole group along with Mr Wong had to wait till the office resume work after lunch. The process for the paperwork started at 1500 only. It was a long drawn out wait.

 

 

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It was slightly past 5 pm when all the processes and inspection of the bikes were completed but the licenses were not ready. Mr Wong sent the troop off while he waited for the license to be handed out. So the troop headed to Jing Hong to spend the night.

Mr Wang arrived Jinhong an hour before midnight.

 

 

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Total distance covered from Boten to Jinghong : 160km

 

 

 

 

22 August 2013 - Jinghong - Jinggu

 

 

We set off from Jinghong as early as 0730 hours. The road we rode on were full of tight corners. There was also intermittent rain throughout the ride which leads to the road being very slippery.

A few hiccups occured along the way. There was another man-hit-dog accident. This time it involved Kassim. I was glad to see that this time both the rider and dog were safe.

 

A second accident involved Hazrin. He skidded on the slippery road resulting with his bike being dragged to the side of the road. Due to the accident, there was a hold up of 2 hours. Since we were behind time, we tried to ride on the highway only to be caught and escorted back to the next exit. Motorcycles are not allowed to use Chinese highway by the way.

 

We arrived in Jinggu at 1800hr after covering an estimated distance of about 300km.

Checked in Gold Well Hotel for 600 yuan per room.

 

Route : Jinghong - Pu'er - Ning'er - Jinggu

 

 

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We sneaked into their National Highway but was escorted out soon after. Motorcycles are not allowed into their highways.

 

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Jinggu town

 

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23 Aug 2013 - Jinggu - Nanjian

 

Our ride today was from Jinggu to Nanjian ( 80km before Dali ) via Zhenyuan and Jindong. A total of 300km covered. We rode through back roads with about 40km of dirt road. Lunch stop was at Zhenyuan.

 

Another misfortune when one of the rider involved in a head on collision with another car. Rider and bike were fine but the car was not so. An early settlement was agreed on a handsome sum.

 

We had to forget about putting up in Dali and head for next town of Nanjian as it was getting dark . Checked in Xing Shi Li Business Hotel for 120 yuan per night.

 

 

 

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Received a call from Doc while refueling about a head on collision.

 

 

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Quick settlement between the rider and local driver before we moved off.

 

 

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24 Aug 2013 - Nanjian - Dali - Lijiang

 

 

Today we rode from Nanjian to Lijiang with a stop over for Dali for lunch and a short walk in Dali Old Town. The distance covered was 348 km.

 

 

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We set off to Lijiang Old Town right after lunch, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were hold up for a couple of hours when a rider accidentally filled up his tank with diesel. Took us about an hour to rectify that problem. It rained heavily upon reaching Lijiang. We had yak for dinner nearby and walked about the Lijiang Old Town.

 

 

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Unesco World Heritage Site

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25 Aug 2013 - Lijiang - Shangri La

 

We spent the cool morning doing a bit of warm clothing purchase and enjoyed watching the locals doing their routine in Lijiang Old Town.

 

 

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We set off to Shangri La about noon and made a stop to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The scenery was simply breath taking.

 

Distance covered from Lijiang to Shangri La : 180 km

 

 

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Tiger Leaping Gorge.

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Then another tragedy struck, a local car was in one of the rider's path while overtaking and didn't manage to duck back into his. Big hold up. Rider broke his wrist and his triple clamp on his Triple Black snapped into two. Police and insurance representative came in and decided that the rider needs to be compensated but both parties have to head back to Lijiang for re- assessment.

 

Mr Wang ordered us to proceed further while he accompany the rider back to Lijiang. It was not an easy decision but the rider realized his journey ends right there. He had to succumb to one fella's poor driving judgement. Said our goodbyes reluctantly and felt so helpless as there was nothing else we could think of for him to continue.

 

 

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We had quick dinner as it was late arriving Shangri-la. At a steady high elevation, some of us were already feeling the effect of AMS.

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26 Aug 2013 - Shangri La - Xiangcheng

 

 

Today's ride took us to the start of bumpy road condition and unfavorable weather. There was the occasional drizzle. The first 80 km was a very big and good road with well-lit tunnels. After that the road gets bumpy with a few unpaved road. There was a junction where it splits the direction to Tibet and Sichuan province. There was a section of about 50 km where the road was narrow with many live-stocks roaming.

 

The last 100 km of the mountain road was slippery with tonnes of hairpin corners. The total distance of about 300 km took us to an elevation of 4200 m.

With all the rough terrain and weather conditions, we have the awesome and breathtaking views to compensate for.

 

We arrived in Xiangcheng town late evening at a low temperature of 8 deg C. There are a lot of Tibetan influence on the locals' homes and costumes.

 

 

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27/28 Aug 2013 Xiangcheng - Xinlong

 

 

Our destination today - Xinlong via Litang. Most of the riders will remember Litang vividly. They should have plenty to say about this stretch. Some love it, some will give it a miss the next time. This 353 km route offers the worst road conditions by far. It was a record travelling time of 16 hours. There were sand...mud...gravel...ruts...rocks. However, it gives us the best scenery ever up to this point. Its like those you see in the National Geographic channels. We were travelling along the western of Sichuan where according to locals, were part of Xizang or Tibet once upon a long time ago.

 

We rode to an elevation of 4600 m and lowest temperature clocked in was 7 deg C.

It was raining as we made our way to Xinlong. The ride to Xinlong had many of the riders trying to keep our bikes upright. Among us , there was like a total of 15 drops.

 

2 riders took a wrong turn ended up 190 km away from the main pack. They had to put up the night in another town of Yajiang.

Another rider traveled half this journey on his own. At one point of time, there were like 5 separate groups , huffing and puffing trying to get to Xinlong.

 

Xinlong is a wet and muddy town and majority of the people are Tibetan They probably don't receive much tourist on their own. We seem so alien to these people.

 

We stayed at Wang Jiang Hotel for 160 yuan per night. We had to park our bikes at a military camp as the local police assured us that it was not safe to park our bikes outside the hotel. One restaurant in particular waited up till the last group arrive. It was almost midnight by then.

 

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The first group arrived just after sunset whiles the last, a couple of hours before midnight. All riders except 2 arrived Xinlong town that night. They apparently headed east towards Chengdu. After confirming that they are some 190 km away, and with the conditions of the road, we knew that it won't be an early departure for us the next day.

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28th Aug Xinlong

 

 

Today we decided to move forward to the next town, Gandze. However, we waited for the 2 riders to join the pack and by the time they arrived it was almost 4pm.

 

On top of that there was some issues with some of the bikes which was the result from the previous day's ride. The problems are such as front brake failure, battery problem, deflated tire, fork seal leak, broken mirrors, flying panniers, fuel pump failure and wet smelly socks. We tried to fix all the problem and to make matters worse there was a blackout in the town and the pump station could not work when we were departed. By the time the whole matter was resolved, it was close to 7pm. So we decided to spend another night in Xinlong.

 

We informed the local police who then instructed that our bikes be parked at their quarters' compound.

 

 

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Then some bike issues arisen It didn't take long for us to decide that we have to spend another day in Xinlong.

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29 Aug 2013 Xinlong - Maniganggo

 

 

We set off in the morning towards Gantze Town. We had some water crossing along the way. As always we were surrounded by magnificent views of snow capped mountains in the background. We stopped by a small town to charge the battery for one of the bike.

Gantze town brings a new traditional flavor of the tribes and minority. Their costumes look pretty much like one of the South Americans natives.

 

 

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From Gantze, we made our way to another town of Maniganngo. Colours decorated this Tibetian Village. This unique town will have their electricity supply shut off at the stroke of midnight everyday.

 

We stayed at Manigangepani Hotel for 180 yuan per night.

 

The whole ride for today had covering a distance of 210km and to an elevation of 3755m. The temperature there was about 12.5 deg C.

 

 

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30 Aug 2013 Maniganggo - Xiza

 

 

Today's ride was another yet tough ride for us. The terrain were basically sandy..rocky... muddy due to occasional rain. The traction control on the bike was of little use. There were occasions where we are only able to ride at 20km/hr. No matter how skillful one is, we seems to have no control over the bikes on muds. Not to mention the number of drops. Among many bike issues were flat tires, starter relay problem and bikes with leaking fuel. Travelling on the mountain roads which were muddy and rocky had our bikes sliding.

 

The other group left a couple of hours earlier as we decided that we will wait for the power generator to come on. And up to this point Doc Liang was already two towns ahead. He has been pushing ahead from everyone else two days ago, alone.

 

We traveled along the mountainous road of the Tibet settlement of this western Sichuan Province to as high as 4000m . Not many foreigners traveled this road according to locals. They prefer the east area of Chengdu. As we travel close to the Tibet borders, the influence is apparent in the people, language as well as culture. And the scenery offered there was simply magnificent.

 

The difficult terrain is slowly taking a toll on us and the instances for photo taking were steadily declining.

 

 

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Soon after we move off from the checkpoint, A GSA simply lost its juice. Numerous cranks and jump start wouldn't get it started. It took some close to 3 hours for us to troubleshoot and suggested that the cells should be the culprit. While the guys were busy attending to the bike, I received a call from the other group of an accident which happened to the other group. This time it sounded serious as the rider was brought to a hospital some 200 km north. Time was running out as we anticipated that it's going to get cold come nightfall so we hired a local tractor to move it to the next town much to the disappointment of the rider.

 

 

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The X1R came next as we were about to move. Carburetor was heavily leaking petrol. Since it's a much lighter bike, we decided to tow it up. The Ducati volunteered. To make matter worse, it started raining and the earth became muddy and too slippery.

 

 

 

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Again, it was difficult to maneuver in mud and the bike simply glided over when descending. No control whatsover. My road tires made it worse and the Heidanau K60 on others didn't fare much better. It became too dangerous even when everyone went easy on the throttle. As the rain kept pouring, the mud got worse and some even suggested that we seek refuge at a local Tibetan tent and continue the next day. The next town, some 50km away but that felt like forever. We got another tractor for the Yammie as it was too difficult for the Ducati to pull it down.

 

Wet and shivering cold, we reminded everyone to keep close till we get to the next town for the night. The rain stopped when we got to low land.

 

We checked in a guesthouse midnight in a tiny trucker town of Xiza. No shower facility, open air toilet with no supply of water. But those thick blanket was like god-sent. We cramped in 6 people per room.

 

 

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31 Aug 2013 Xiza - Shiqu

 

 

Morning spent on fixing all the affected bikes while few of us took a short walk round town. The GSA needed a new battery and up the truck it went. The next big town will be in Xining. The GSA will have a stopover in a town of Xiwu. Since it was closed to 3 pm, and from Doc Liang's review of the road condition, I decided that the next stopover will be a nearby Shiqu. I asked the two most fittest rider, Ejat and Mus if they can accompany the GSA for Xiwu and soon after they suited up and was on their way along with the GSA.

 

In the meantime, was in contact with the other group. Rider suffered 5 broken ribs and a punctured lung. Mr Wang was on the way to attend to him from Kunming. Plans for Medical Evacuation already in process.The bike was placed in a police station near Shiqu county and Mr Wang had asked our assistance to retrieve the bike when passing by.

 

Rode a short distance of 75 km from Xiza to Shiqu. Once again we had to ride on bad road with billions of gravels plus rain. This time the gravel was more difficult to handle. Shixu stands at an elevation of 5005 m; the highest by far. Arrived here shivering due to rain and wind, breathing was getting more difficult. Even mounting and getting off the bike was taxing.

 

 

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Had an early night as we are expecting spending more time next day at the police station and transporting it to big town of Xining.

 

 

 

1 Sept 2013 - Shiqu - Maduo - Qingshuanhe

 

Rode from Shiqu - Xiwu - Maduo - Qinshuanhe today covering a distance of 205km. Stopped for lunch in Xiwu town and met up with the other 3 guys who went ahead accompanying the GSA . Up till this point, we have officially crossed over to Qinghai Province.

 

The treacherous terrain we had to go through had resulted in some of the rider's trip ending rather prematurely. 2 bikes will be transported to Xining where the a transport company will send it to Kunming for shipment back to Singapore at a later date.

 

 

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Another trucker town where there's no shower facility and the toilet is at your convenience. The GSA came back to life after we swapped the KTM's battery. He couldn't be any happier and he rode happily until the worst case happened at Everest Base Camp.

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2 Sept 2013 - Qingshuihe - Gonghe

 

The distance we covered from Qingshuihe to Gonghe was 520 km. No bike issues except for a side stand bypass on the 650 Dakar so we decided to push slightly further today. We haven't been following the itinerary for the past couple of days so another day won't hurt I guess. So Gonghe it will be, based on the recommendations of Mr Wang's driver.

 

The first 30km of our ride were off road full of light gravels and badly damaged broken concrete road, and the rest of it was a pretty good straight road. The highest elevation we rode for today was 4855 m. There was also a lot crosswinds along the journey. The scenery along this route was purely mountains and grasslands.

 

 

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The petrol stations in Qinghai province requires all motorcycle owners to fill up a can and have them manually be filled with petrol some distance away. And as we later discovered, it applies in other provinces like Gangsu, Xinjiang and Tibet as well.

 

 

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3 Sept 2013 - Gonghe - Xiningg

 

 

Today's ride was supposed to end at Zhangyu. Not to strictly adhere by it, we got the Dakar to fix it's leak problem since Gonghe is a big town with big workshops.

 

 

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We passed by many scenic area including a range of snow capped mountains and managed to sneak into Qinghai International Highway but was stopped upon reaching Xining and was told to exit or risk being arrested. The officer warned us a few times so this time comply we did.

 

 

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We were already about 16 km away from Xining Town when we received a call from our guide informing us that it was snowing heavily up north in Zhangyu. His car was fully covered with snow and hence he advised us to stop riding for the day. We turned back to Xining town and checked into a hotel. 154 km for today.

 

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Town of Xining

 

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A ruling in this province which states that foreigners must stay in in hotels approved by Chinese government to house foreigners (guesthouse is a no no). Since all of us are starting to feel the fatigue of riding, we decided to check in a 5-star hotel to rejuvenate.

 

 

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4 Sept 2013 - Xining - Zhangye

 

 

We had big spread for breakfast. It's nice to see everyone in jubilant mood during breakfast. Clean toilet and warm cosy bed, so nobody was complaining. They even asked if we could leave slightly later than normal. I was more than happy to oblige.

 

 

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We crossed over to another province, Qangsu, for a town called Zhangye. Total distance covered today was 325 km

The road travelled today offers the best ride in China; perfect road, perfect view, perfect condition. Not that we dread off road, but we have been travelling through unpaved road most of the time in Sichuan province. It was quite refreshing to be presented with well paved tarmac.

 

We passed 4 snow capped mountains. It was a great feeling seeing everyone smiling when we reached the mountain where it snowed. Exuberant, everyone was seen hi fives. Don't blame us, it was the first for everyone riding in the snow.

 

 

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5 Sept 2013 - Zhangye - Jiayuguan Great City

 

The weather was about right. Temperature was 21 deg C and it was comfortable to ride without the thermals. The 240 km which we traveled today took us through barren land to the Jiayuguan Great City. We're expecting the desert anytime soon. Checked in a hotel in Jiayuguan town and soon after we started the engine again for a short ride to nearby Jiayuguan Great City few of us dump the bike for a camel ride.

 

 

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Edited by yem_paul

http://yempaulantonio.blogspot.sg

 

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