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Chinese stories - a meeting with a Chinese cyclist


I have many Chinese stories to tell. Here's one! Once on the road you meet interesting people. Take for example this guy on the picture. I met him just after leaving Simao.He spoke a little English and my Chinese was also limited. When cyclists meet on the way they stop and chat about their adventures.

Wang and me just outside Simao, Xishunagbanna Yunnan
Wang and me a couple of kilometers from Simao
it's the only photo I have of us, it was made by a passing policeman

His name was Wang and he was from Yining, a town west from Urumqi in Xinjiang province, far west China. He told me in brief his story. In September 1999 he had started his journey from home, in the middle of the winter.

He showed me some pictures with him and a big ice-beard! Since it was now 2001. In two years time he had cycled from Yining all along the Mongolian border (in the winter!) to the North Korean border and then along the coastline down south to Xiamen and Shenzhen. From here on he cycled further to the Vietnamese border, followed that for as long as possible and now I met him here in Xishuangbanna on his way to Jinghong.

His journey, that was the plan at least, would further bring him along the Lao border to Baoshan and then along the Myanmar border finally into Tibet. Then the final stage of another 3000 km would start to go back home. An impressive man.

So, what was he carrying? What sort of bicycle did he have? He bought a cheap Chinese mountain bike in Urumqi, had some panniers and a sleeping bag. In fact he didn't carry anything special with him, no tent, cooking gear or whatever. He just relied on his luck to find a place to stay (which in China is never too difficult).

Wang told me that apart of a few flat tyres he didn't suffer any problems. Contrary to me at the time when I broke more spokes then hours a day it seemed with my expensive Koga Myata bicycle. Wang, with his cheap and heavy Chinese bike had done about 20.000 km with only a few flat tyres. He was a real master and great company for the hour or so we had.

At the end of our meeting down the road, he stopped a police car and asked the policemen to take pictures of us together. See the result above. Wang, a real hero to me.

Although we exchanged addresses, we lost contact. However, I am sure he finished his journey and I wouldn't be surprised if anyone else reading this story, met him too. It's one of those Chinese stories on the road that many cyclist will recognize. Expect the unexpected. Cycling in China delivers that plenty.

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