This page was last updated Thu 05 January 2017.

Contents: Tours (1)   

Reports by Ali G

All descriptions are in English, unless otherwise noted.

Tours

Shang Hai --> Padang, West Sumatra - 8000 KM in 3 Months
by Ali G, tour started April 2009, submitted 12 September 2009

A solo cycling journey from Shanghai, China to Padang, West Sumatra During the spring/summer of 2009 I determined to cycle departing from my pre-war apartment in Shanghai and to continue as far as I could in the three months time I had from April 11th until July 11th. 8000 eventful Kilometers later I finally reached Padang, West Sumatra.

Aside from only one ferry ride connecting Penang, Malaysia to the Port of Belawan, North Sumatra the whole trip was by bicycle. During the trip I encountered fierce rains and winds, steep climbs and endless mountains, roads that went from pavement to mud and rocks, monkeys jumping down from the trees, snakes the length of baseball bats, lizards the size of big cats, Hmong Guerillas with AK47's on a misty mountain pass. I experienced the kindness of strangers as well as the indecency of others. I pushed my middle-aged body to the limit and achieved a personal record in northern Thailand by cycling 263 kilometers non-stop in one truly eventful day of fast and hard riding.

It is difficult for the pictures I shot of myself (with my outdated 5 mega-pixel camera's auto shoot feature) to capture the true essence of this journey. They can't capture the nearly 2000 kilometers of continuous climbs from western Guangxi through North/Central Laos and the often steep ascents, fierce winds and heavy rains encountered there. The lonely days of riding up and up and the anguish felt after reaching a pass and realizing there are only more mountains to cross in the horizon. Nor can they capture the lighting fast descents on winding mountain roads with hair pin turns, where I have mastered the act of riding without my hands, singing and strumming along to the thumping tunes on my ipod. Pictures can't capture the restless nights sleeping alone in the jungle, in a bamboo hut open to all the elements, the night creatures taunting and wailing out load as if in mocking and the loud claps of thunder that drown out the sound of the jungle creatures. Pictures can't capture the struggle of lifting a fully loaded touring bike and hand carrying it over mud and rock slides which persist kilometer after kilometer during the rainy seasons in China's western regions. Pictures cant capture the taunting calls of 'hello mister' or 'tourist' by the locals in all of Sumatra or the endearing smiles on faces of Laotian children as I ride by, they can't capture the maddening and often dangerous traffic in parts of China and Sumatra and the disregard of truck drivers and other motor vehicles for the lone cyclist on the rode and they can't capture the army of bugs at dusk flying into my face, eyes and clothes, pelting me as if hail from the skies above. [...]