On the way to Jing Hong
The first leg to Jing Hong went from Si Mao to Fengpo, just 30 km or so away from Si Mao. I took the wrong junction in Simao so I cycled a few extra kilometers before I was on the right track. The reason was a board in Si Mao which was directing me to the west instead of south. But it didn't matter much.
First the road was fine, I went quite fast into the hills south of Simao. Here and there some bad parts had to be taken but in general it was fine. Before I reached Fengpo I passed a very bad part.
Trucks, cars and busses were waiting. It was that bad I couldn't even cycle here. After passing the column I saw the real problem. The column I had passed was on a bad part of this ongoing road but it was beautiful compared to what followed.
The road for about 200 meters was completely damaged. Big stones were lying in the mud and in the middle was a stranded truck. As far as I could see it had a broken front axe.
And of course it was right in the middle of the bad part. Nobody could really pass until that truck was fixed. I stepped off and walked further finding my way through the mud and stones. Some of these stones were 30-40 cm big and came out of the mud for several cm.
A bit further some people were trying to repair themselves the road by bringing rocks on the road so the truck would not sink in the mud. They were hoping that if they could pass that bad part the broken truck would be fixed.
I had no idea how long this could take but I knew I could continue by walking further. I had to walk for about 250 meters before I could get back on the bike and cycle further.
After the bad part the road was very nice. I was quickly in Fengpo where there is a reasonable good hotel. The town is quite small but has a lively market and shops. Most of the travelers passing here are truck drivers. Since I was so early I decided to continue to Dadugang.
There was hardly any traffic on the road apart of a few trucks coming from the south. I expected to go quick. However, a few kilometers out of Fengpo the road became a dirt path, it became seriously bad. There was little or no asphalt for the next 38 km. It wasn't as bad as the part described above but it was still difficult though I could continue cycling.
I was now back in the mountains and in the forest. The road, in its bad state followed the very new and unfinished new expressway which leads all the way to Jing Hong.
It was tempting to take the expressway (there was no traffic on the new road anyway) but I didn't know for how long the expressway would be good to cycle on and how far it would lead me.
It may be ending somewhere in the middle of nowhere with only a sand path to a more decent road. So I continued on the forest road. I say "forest road" but in fact this road is the main road that connects Kunming with Jing Hong as a National Highway. I doubt the road will be upgraded when the expressway is finished but who can tell.
The top of the road I found at 1355 meter in Dadugang. A few times earlier I thought I had reached the top but every time it turned out to go slightly down and then up again.
It is quite interesting to understand that Simao and Dadugang are at the same altitude but Simao is in a valley surrounded by mountains while Dadugang is on a mountain top surrounded by valleys.
Nothing much, this little dirt town on a mountain top. Dadugang offers two not too bad hotels which are usually occupied by stranded truckers. In China almost every little town has this kind of hotels. But I have a room with a shower and hot water so I don't complain.
At night the street disco runs. In Asia television (read VCD karaoke) is always at maximum sound. Preferably there are more then one system running so people can choose what to listen to. You can sometimes see the loudspeakers dancing on the street.
I said Dadugang wasn't much. This is just partly true. When I walked a little bit out of town there were nice views to see over the area. Here many farmers grow tea amongst other veggies. And if you're lucky, there's some birds in the area.
Dadugang to Jing Hong
It went down, I thought. After all I had been to the other side of the town and "saw" the road continuing down. But it turned out to be different. Yes, at first it went down but after a kilometer or two again it went slowly up. It was here and there a quite bad road. On and off it went up and and down but after about 15 km finally the big descending started. Some road parts were bad but others were absolutely great.
I arrived in Mengyang around 11.30. There I had some fried bread sticks and hot soy milk (a nice break from the noodle soups) before I started the last 28 km to Jing Hong.
It was very soon clear I was not on the new and for cyclists available expressway I had taken some years ago. At first I was a bit unsure if this was the right road but after questioning some locals I was sure this road too would lead me to my goal.
Slowly the road swindled up to the mountain. From mountain to mountain and higher and higher. There was almost no traffic apart of one truck passing me in the 11 km climb.
Now I got higher I got a glimpse of the expressway far below me deep in the valley. I was surprised by the quality of this road, potholes but ok for cycling.
For quite a few kilometers I was more or less at the highest point in the whole area which gives the feeling of being at the top of the world. The highest point however was 1100 meter, more then 200 lower then where I started!
Once over the top I began to see the next valley and more parts of the expressway. I was on the old road to Jing Hong, a road I had taken years ago by bus at my first visit here.
Every once in a while motorbikes passed me but there were hardly any other vehicles on this road. With about 5 km more to go I saw Jing Hong lying in a vague mist. The towers and the big new bridge of Jing Hong were visible. The road went down now until I was on the expressway that connects Lincang with Jing Hong. I had to cycle a little back to a circle and from there into Jing Hong and the bridge.
I couldn't resist to have a look at the traffic board. I was now at a place where I could read the board. So, it might give some information. The picture below is the board and indeed it gives the direction to Meng Yang.
The board suggest you can go left to Meng Yang while if you go right you'll find a junction for Dadugang and Ganlanba. The truth is that there is a small road to the left which goes to Meng Yang. It's an old road but in good condition to cycle.
In fact, before the circle, a few hundred meters further was build, there was a junction right here. The board had been at the right place but nowadays a new road was build while the board was never replaced!
Daduang was the place I had stayed the night while Ganlanba was indeed the first real town on the way to Mengla, using the road following the river. See for more about this my story about the ride to the Lao border
If you know the traffic situation at this point, the board makes sense but if you're not, it is puzzling. One can say the board will be replaced somewhere in the future which is probably true. It's more likely the board will rust away until nothing is anymore to read.
Once on the bridge I remembered more or less where I wanted to be. "After the bridge the second left", I thought. And indeed, this was the area where I had stayed before. I wasn't sure about the Bana hotel, where I stayed in 2002 but I knew I was in the right area. To my surprise I found a reasonable good bicycle shop: You Qi.
Here I found new break blocks. When I changed my old break blocks, it was clear these completely gone. The new blocks are not made by Shimano and I don't expect them long but they'll do the job until I have better quality.
Accommodation in Jinghong
Although there is no real need to book in advance except during festivals and national holidays, you may want to check out some hotels:
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Jinghong and the road to Laos
South Yunnan, Jinghong is famous for it's nature and minorities and it's a pleasant bike ride to Mohan and the Lao border
Tea plantations in Pu'er
Pu'er is the tea center of China, much of this part of Xishuangbanna is dedicated to tea. Here's a description of the roads leading to Pu'er
Map of Yunnan
Mojiang is an overnight stop on the road from Kunming to Jing Hong. Buses pass in the middle of the night so if you want to visit the town, get a bicycle.