Cycling from Hong Kong to Yangshuo
Let's go cycling from Hong Kong to Yangshuo. In distance it's not far but it's not all a fantastic ride although from Wuzhou on it becomes scenic.
On my Hong Kong page I have already mentioned the boat from Hong Kong to Gaoming (HK $220, 5 hours). There are other options, there are many ferries to Macau, Zhuhai and even Guangzhou.
I can not comment on ferries to other cities then Gaoming (although in the past I took ferries to Zhaoqing and even Wuzhou but those ferries are no longer operational) but all ships are seaworthy and work with the international standard safety regulations. And yes, you can bring your bicycle.
In July 2010 I cycled out of Gaoming to Yangshuo with Hong Kong as original starting point. Gaoming is mostly a new reasonable big city and an 8 lane road going out of town north to Zhaoqing.
This motorway is as far as I could figure out the only sort of straight road to Zhaoqing. It was all fine as it was mostly very quiet.
Around half way, the 8 lanes change back to the original old 2 lanes road which is partly still under construction (2010) to become a 4 lane road. This is also partly a bad road full of potholes if not worse.
Zhaoqing has been growing heavy in the last years. When you come from Gaoming you will need to ferry to cross to the city. The ferry is free and the boat rides go every 10-15 minutes.
When you enter Zhaoqing there's a beautiful temple and another pagoda to visit. Inside the city, it's like any other modern Chinese city, nothing special. I stayed at the Home Inn which was not cheap (Y168 per night) but comfortable central located. Bank of China, night market and restaurants are nearby.
The next stop could be Deqing, 75km from Zhaoqing. This was a dirt town when I fist visited in 2001 but is now growing fast too. Many new building have risen out of the ground, many are not even in use at the moment writing. There are several hotels in town happy to cater you.
Another 85 km further is Wuzhou. This is a city like Guangzhou although much smaller in size with a lively animal market. It is still lively but the animal market is gone. A walking boulevard next to the Pearl River has some very nice views over the hills on the other side.
A city like Wuzhou has plenty of excellent hotels and food available. One thing the city lacks is a good bicycle shop. Or that was what I thought. Or better, I still don't know. So what was the story?
In the morning I wake up and find my front tire empty. Worse however is my back tire which has a potential hole in the tire at the rim side. If that goes open, I'm done. The stitching of this very new tire is already wearing out. I desperately need a new tire.
I find a open air bicycle repairman who obviously does not have anything I could possibly use, not even a bad Chinese 2.1 inch tire but he does know where to get a decent tire. I have to wait, he leaves on his bicycle and comes back with a very decent 1.7 inch semi slick tire.
Problem solved, I can leave Wuzhou and start cycling to Taiping, exactly 100km. This will be the first ride with some hills, not high, but I haven't done some climbing for a few months and I do not know how it will work out. It turned out to be very fine.
The scenic road is at first very bad but this soon clears up and it becomes beautiful and very quiet. I pass small villages and see people working at the land. At the end of the day I cycle into Taiping with a good feeling. I made it, and without much difficulties.
Despite the fact that Taiping is a dirt town where I wonder why people even consider to live here, it has several hotels. Who would ever stay here except for an occasional cyclist or truck driver passing by to either Wuzhou, Nanning or going north to Puyi, Guilin and Yangshuo?
It takes a bit to find a good meal but the meal I finally have is excellent (rice with roast pork and veggie). The only worthwhile thing to mention are the grapes and oranges in town. They're sweet and delicious
In the morning I leave Taiping and go north. It's 165 km to Yangshuo. I haven't decided what I will do. Go directly or stay a night in Mengshan, which is half way. I leave the decision until I am in Mengshan.
The ride with little climbs here and there, some steep but never more then a few hundred meters maximum is beautiful. It's a pleasant day on good roads and minimal traffic through a green and beautiful though not spectacular land.
Mengshan turns out to be like Deqing, I have been here many years ago when it was a small one street town. Now it's a much bigger town, though not as big as Deqing has become. I eat and drink here and decide I can easily make it to Yangshuo. But fate is on the loose.
How to break your Handlebars
After my lunch I step on the bicycle and will start cycling when I stand with TWO handlebars in my hand. One is connected to my bicycle, the other is a piece broken off. That ends immediately my journey to Yangshuo.
I don't even bother to check for a bicycle shop in Mengshan, I'm sure there isn't one.
Just behind me there is a minibus waiting for passengers. The driver and his caddy must have seen what happened. However, there stoic faces do not show anything. I ask if I can bring my bike in the bus and that's no problem. The bike goes in the bus and I sit next to it
More passengers get in. None seem to be surprised about this man with a broken handlebars bicycle. I pay and add Y5 for the bike and off we go.
Thus I drop my bike and myself in a bus to Lipu, 35km further north. In Lipu I change bus to Yangshuo.
But fate isn't finished with me. When the bus arrives in the outskirts of Yangshuo I have to get out and walk the last 1.5 km to town. Not a problem. I check in in the 7th Heaven Cafe and Hostel and find .... my wallet lost. It could be stolen too but I don't know. I do know I have used the wallet in the bus to pay the driver. So it must have happened after I left the bus until I arrived at the 7th Heaven. Fortunately there was only Y200 or so in it plus my bank pass. I call the bank, block the pass and that problem is solved.
Yangshuo is getting busier these days. Bicycling in Yangshuo is popular since the early 1980's but these days you can find very decent mountain bikes in town. Still, would I be able to repair my handlebars? After all, repairing brakes, gear, tubes or tires would be easy, I expected. But handlebars?
My luck is Jessie, my friend and tour guide in Yangshuo. She is not at all impressed by the problem, no worries she says, we'll fix it. I doubt it but as usual I should trust Jessie. It turned out that next to the Magnolia Hotel a very good bicycle repairman was holding "office" at the street. And, yes he did have handlebars. Do I want silver or black handlebars? For Y50 he fixed my handlebar problem. And I am ready to continue traveling, thanks to Jessie.
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Yangshuo to Nanning
There are several good roads to use. Here is what I have cycled:
Things to do in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has many attractions and it's unlikely you will feel bored as the variety is enormous.