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Cycling from Nanning to Vietnam
Day 1: taking the wrong way all the time

It's not far from Nanning to Vietnam. And you can get a Vietnamese visa in Nanning (the Lotus Land Guesthouse is a good and easy option). It is probably also the only reason to visit Nanning despite the nice parks and interesting markets. Still, there are nicer places in China.

Cycling from Nanning to VietnamBut, as it is, you might want to cycle from Nanning to Vietnam. It's a 3 days journey to Pingxiang. And it can be a bit confusing, as I experienced when I cycled it in November 2011.

The case was simple: cycle from Nanning to Vietnam, or better to Pingxiang but don't use the G322.

The idea was to cycle the first day to Fushui, than Chongzhuo and the last stop would be Pingxiang.

The first day of my journey from Nanning to Vietnam

Sometimes cycling out of a city is more difficult than into one. Nanning turned out to be such a city. I had my maps, and purchased a local made city map too. This city map only showed the city center but combined with other maps and Google Earth which I checked in my hotel room, I had enough to get the right direction.

And thus, after a good breakfast of dumplings and soup I left Nanning. The city was busy but soon I was in the suburbs where it was considerable more quiet.

After 15 km I arrived in Shifu, a small town at the far edge of the city. According to my maps there should be a bridge. I arrived at a particular junction. Straight would lead me to a highway, to the right was the G324 which leads to Baise. Logically I should go left. At a junction I found the traffic police very happy to help me out. They directed me, with drawing a map, to the left. I continued happily.

I followed their instruction and ... came back on the same road where I had been before... I asked again at a petrol station and heard I had earlier taken the right road but must have missed a junction. The man at the petrol station wrote it all down for me in Chinese.

I came back at the junction where the same policemen were sitting. I let them read the paper, and they "got" it.

They drew me a new map, directing me again left but let me take a small junction after a few km.

Cycling from Nanning to Vietnam

Fine, I went there and found the You Jiang river in front of me. Left or Right? I asked. A young couple was not sure.

So I choose right, which seemed to make more sense. It ended up in Shifu village and ultimately again at the junction with the traffic police! By now I had already cycled 45 km and was no further out of town than 15 km.

I decided to go back to the river and continue the other way. Kilometers further I found a bridge and crossed the river. This was a new 4 lane plus secondary road.

There were no signs I could use, all directed to streets and areas but none gave a direction to a city further south.

I went under the railway and thought it was all fine. That feeling left me when the road just ended. This way my journey from Nanning to Vietnam would take forever!

Cycling from Nanning to Vietnam

After asking again, I had to go west as going east would lead me nowhere, the guys said. So I continued on another 4 lane road.

I found a junction to the Nanning airport. That looked good until the road continued as a motorway, no bicycles allowed.

Going east from here would lead me back to where I had been already, so it was going west again.

After a few kilometers I found a crossroads. Left (north) would lead me back to Nanning, further west I had no idea but there was a serious climb so I went right (south) and hoped for the best.

Until now all the roads had been in excellent condition, this one, a 2 lane road, was certainly ready for some serious repairs. But I did find a road marker: G322!

The road I wanted to skip turned out to be the one I would use. By now I had cycled almost 70 km and I didn't want to make more mistakes.

I went further south until I reached a town called Wuxu. Here I had some refreshments and continued.

The road came now at a junction and I followed the signs to the airport. About 6 km further I found the Nanning airport but I also found this was a dead end street. Where had I gone wrong?

I went back to the last junction and went right (west). This was a pleasant and good road leading me a few km further to a weird town. All I saw were factories, no houses, no restaurants and no hotels. This couldn't be right. It wasn't right.

After several times asking one guy got apparently tired and directed me the right way.

What was it? In Wuxu I shouldn't have gone straight but should have taken a junction. There had been no signs and it didn't seem to be a junction anyway. I cycled again a few km back until the guys showed me a bridge. Climb up here and go south he said. A few km later I saw he was right. I was back on the G322, the main old national road from Nanning to Vietnam.

Suyu, a town in no mans land but I found a hotel
Cycling from Nanning to Vietnam lead me to Suyu,
a town in no mans land but I found a "hotel".

By now it was already 5PM and I needed to find a hotel. Fushui would be too far so I would try my luck in the next town: Suyu, 18 km further. Finally, just before dark I cycled into Suyu. It looked like a no mans town, a place where no one would possibly want to be, But I knew from experience there would be a place to stay for truckers, so I would have a bed.

There was ONE "hotel", where I got a room for Y20, a shared toilet of which I won't tell you what it looked or smelled like and a "great" hot shower. After drinking a cup of coffee I went out to get a dinner. And that dinner made my whole day. Nanning was only 45 km away but I had cycled 129km on my first day from Nanning to Vietnam.

Later in the evening truckers came in to occupy other rooms. It went in the usual Chinese tradition, with making as much noise as possible, burping and spitting until at about 11PM everyone was asleep. At 6AM I had an early wake up call when the same ritual started again. But I was ready for Day 2 of my journey to Chongzhuo, here is the rest of the bicycle journey from Nanning to Vietnam:

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