Jing Hong to the Lao border
From the capital of Xishuangbanna to Laos
My journey from Jing Hong to the Lao border started with typical northern European weather: grey misty wet and cold weather. It was barely 15°C! I left Jing Hong after a good breakfast of fried bread sticks (in fact it's deep fried flower), egg and a bowl of hot soy milk. The idea is to soak the bread sticks in the soy milk. It's a good breakfast.
I cycled out of the city, crossed the big new bridge (although the bridge is already several years old) old went east. First I had to pass the toll gate but they didn't order me to stop (as expected). At the next circle I had to follow Menghan. This is the old road that connects Jing Hong with Mengla (pronounced as Mungla) and the Lao border.
Boards in China are not always clear but the one at the circle at least gave three options. Since I had cycled this road before I knew I had to follow the river for awhile so I choose the right road.
I was told in April the new expressway from Jing Hong to the Lao border will be open but I guess it will be the part between Simao and Meng Xiang, 28 km north of Jing Hong. Until then everybody who want to go from Jing Hong to the Lao border has to use the old road.
In fact it's quite a scenic road though this time the mist took most of the views out of sight. It goes slightly up and down. The only more or less serious climb is around Menghan. Here the road swindles around the hills for a few kilometers but goes down quick too.
During the trip there are several Dai villages. The houses are mostly made of wood with typical roofs. Some of the people still wear their traditional costumes. In one of the villages it seemed a complete new village was build next to the road. It may be that the old village has to disappear because of the new expressway which is in this part of Xishuangbanna not even build. That said, some pieces are now in a first stage of building.
I arrived in a little dirt town, originally a Bai village but already in the process of growth. The expressway will for sure open this part of Xishuangbanna too. The town consists of two parallel streets plus a Bai village around.
The reason the town, Manzhi, exists is a junction. One road goes to Jing Hong, the other to Meng Xiang. And now with the expressway coming, the town is booming!
The town has several quite new and big hotels and lots of restaurants. It seems people here expect a flourishing business in the next few years with the opening of the expressway junction. At night another face of the town comes up: it seems this town is full of prostitution! It's a two street red light district!
Manzhi for sure has the best hotels. But if you come from Mengla, you may want to stay in Meng Xing. There's basic accommodation available.
The road to Mengla
What should have been an easy day turned out to be one of the most difficult ones. The road from Jing Hong to Lao border on this part was hard. This time it was not the road it self that made the difficulty, it were the three mountains on the way.
I left Manzhi on the way to Meng Xing. It was a pleasant ride, going slightly up to 680 meters. It was quiet and soon I was in Meng Xing. It seems this little town is like Manzhi: booming. There was a significant bigger part of the village I had not seen at my previous visits.
After Meng Xing the road started going up. It went all the way to 1060 meter. When I was almost at the top I met Benoit, a Frenchman who was searching his way north. We spoke for awhile before I went further. Benoit told me it was all the way down to Mengla! And indeed, after a few kilometers after leaving Benoit the road went down. However, it was soon slightly up and down and even sooner I found myself in another climb. This one was significantly steeper then the first one. It took about 12 kilometer and a lot of sweat before I arrived up.
I am not sure which road Benoit had taken from Mengla, but for sure he must have missed this mountain.
There were trucks and busses on the road but it was still quiet and peaceful most of the time. The climb however I found hard. It felt I had yogurt in my legs. And when I was at the top at 1180 meter, I still had to cycle another 40 km!
I went down for about 10 km. But even going down wasn't easy. There were many curves in this nature reserve area but soon I was in the expected valley. Now it was just 33 km and it should go quick, that is what I thought.
I was wrong again. I looked in front of me and saw a huge wall of hills. There was no mistake to make, I had to climb again. This climb took me up to 1020 meter but now the pain was over. It was another 20 km to Mengla and most of it went down. But again I was wrong. Another few kilometers climbing I had to do before the road finally went down. In strict tempo I cycled to Mengla and to a hotel.
On the way to Mohan
The last stop on the way from Jing Hong to Lao border is Mohan. I started my day with a good bowl of noodles in Mengla. It was still cold and I was happy to wear my long trousers and jack. I left the again expanding city of Mengla. Again? yes, when I came to Mengla in 2002 it was already expanded compared to 2000. Now, the city looks even bigger and brighter then ever.
But when I left Mengla I was back in the Nature reserve and the sceneries were fine. That is to say, for what I could see! The mist took the views away from sight in the first hours. Slowly the road swindled up and down. It was never difficult, never long climbing and never going down for a long time.
Here and there I saw signs of the new build expressway to Mohan. Where the new expressway crossed the old national highway (say the old road) the old road was in a messy state. But those parts were few this day.
Only just before Mohan there was a longer stretch of mud roads. It was still only a few hundred meters before I entered the complete new town of Mohan. Nothing I saw reminded me of the dirt town Mohan used to be.
The whole town is completely new, with shopping centers and hotels. It's still small but it's ready for mass tourism arrival from Laos. In four years time, nothing is left of the old town of Mohan with it's gambling and prostitution. It's a nice clean town welcoming visitors. See for more about Mohan, my Mohan page
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