Where the going gets tough.....
Where the going gets tough.....
The section between Xiaguan and Baoshan is different from between Kunming and Xiaguan. This because the road is not identical anymore to the G320. Between Yangbi and Yongping the road mainly follows hardly used mountain tracks.
This section can be cycled in 4 to 5 days. The five day partition is described below. In four days the partition looks like Xiaguan / Yangbi 40 Km (Or 51 Km to Dali old town), Yangbi / Yongping 81 Km, Yongping / Wayao 82 Km, Wayao / Baoshan 68 Km.
Out of Xiaguan the Burma Road together with the modern motorway and the Xi'er river (The outflow of the Er'hai lake) go through a narrow gap in the Diancang mountain range. The road is lined with fish restaurant also there is no water left in the river due to repeated droughts.
Out of Xiaguan the Burma Road follows national road G320. The road goes steep down here so that goes fast. At Pingpoxiang it turns north and climbs to Yangbi. The road passes the 'Shimen' gap in the Diancang mountain range and comes to the old town of Yangbi.
Ones off the G320 the atmosphere changes; people are more friendly. Even going so far as inviting one for lunch while looked for shelter against the rain.
Yangbi is the 'Walnut Capital' of Yunnan but as well an old town along the ancient 'Bonan' track of the Southern Silk Road. A 'tea horse' track passes the town as well and leads north to Tibet via Shaxi.
Yangbi is officially a Yi town but many of the inhabitants are of the Muslim Bai Hui ethnic group which shows as well in several mosques that are in use in the town. The old town is concentrated near the old iron chain bridge spanning the Yangbi River. New satellite towns are built and a high-speed rail-link is under construction. The rail-link will tunnel through the mountain and therefore not disturb the mountain scenery.
This stretch is not to long and that gives some time to explore the old Mosque and old iron chain bridge in Yangbi.
Doctor Zheng Yin Shan offered tea while we sheltered from the rain under the porch of his clinic.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is the standard in rural Yunnan also the main hospitals offer western medicine as well.
As soon as the town is behind you the Burma Road starts to climb and the road surface changes to cobble stones. This distance includes one of the steepest climbs of the Burma Road. Luckily it is through a forested area with little traffic so plenty of thin but clean air. The Qingshuilangshan (清水郎山）mountain range is large and in total three separate mountain ranges have to be crossed in the coming days. This over roads with a bad road surface or cobble stone paving. In recent years the cobble stone road from Yangbi to Taiping got replaced
The crossing of the Qingshuilangshan mountains leads one through one of the most beautiful stretches of the Burma Road. This section is no longer used by through traffic and even local traffic is limited. After a long climb through walnut plantations and pine forests one reaches the higher pass that is often covered in clouds. From there the road winds down to Taiping, the only village on this stretch. After crossing the Shahe River and a short climb one comes to a second pass that is cut through the mountain side.
In 2016 suddenly kilometre markers and monuments were placed along the Burma Road between Yangbi and Taiping and at the pass crossing the Qingshuilangshan Mountains.
After Beidou the road disappears into a pine forest. This is the most abandoned part of the road and for 30 kilometres there is not a single village. This days stretch is short but over a very bad road with, if it has recently rained, muddy spots.
The road leads through pine forest and at many places the trees are tapped for pine resin. Not many people will be met this day apart from some travellers on motorbikes and some shepherds with their animals.
The last part of this stretch goes down over the G320 to Yongping of which the old town is now under reconstruction. Yongping is famous for its chicken dish in Bai Hui style.
Rush hour on this abandened part of the Burma Road.
In these very rural stretches the only people one meets are animal herders and people on motorbikes.
In rural Yunnan lot of animals are still herded including goats and pigs.
In rural Yunnan the motorbike is the main form of motorised transport. Given the state of some roads and the many mountains it is not surprising that the local populations does not cycle here.
During walnut season (September-October) nearly everyody in this area is working with walnuts.
The men do the harvesting and the women the sorting and processing.
From Yongping the roads turns north through tea plantations and keeps going up and down. Again the slopes are covered with walnut plantations.
At the end of the valley a steady climb is needed to get into the Qiduo mountains. The last two kilometres are the steepest climb on the Burma Road leading to the fourth highest pass on the Burma Road. After this comes the steepest road down and one has to be careful not to burn up ones breaks.
From Dalishu the Burma Road keeps hugging the mountain side and slowly goes down to the river. The road is now cobble stones again for a few kilometres.
Originally the road crossed the Pi river and continued on the north side of the river to where the New Gongguo Bridge spanned the Lancangjiang (Mekong). This part of the road has disappeared due to rising water levels caused by damming a bit further downstream of the Lancangjiang. The New Gongguo Bridge itself has been removed and the bridgeheads are now under water, only a monument of the Old Gongguo Bridge remains on the west bank.
The road now continues over the new concrete X201 road and passes the new hydroelectric power station. It is a smooth ride along the Lancangjiang River south again. At the bend in the river where it turns west the G320 joins the Burma Road again. High in the mountains one can see the huge bridges of the modern G56 motorway which tunnelled its way through the mountain range that the Burma Road had to climb over. The Burma Road leaves the Lancangjiang valley and rises up to Wayou. Wayou is a town with a rich mix of ethnic groups including Bai, Yi and Dai people.
This stretch starts with a long climb that starts straight out of Wayao. The Burma Road turned into the G320 again but that road is not that busy on this stretch.
At Laoyingxiang the road hits the G56 motorway. The motorway here follows the original track of the Burma Road thus the original road can thus no longer be followed on bike. The alternative is the G320 which zigzags down to the Baoshan on the side of the valley.
At the valley bottom the road passes through the old Southern Silk Road town Banqiaozuzhen. This old village is a crossing point of the north/south tea horse trails to Tibet and the east/west southern Silk Road. The old main street is a now nearly forgotten road where shops specialise in funeral gifts like ghost money and paper gifts for the dead.
The last stretch between the old town of Banqiaozhen and the modern town of Baoshan goes mainly through the industrious (and dusty) outskirts of Baoshan. The old town of Baoshan was frequently and heavily bombed during the war and the old town has been cleared and now hardly anything reminds one of the old time except of the exposition in the Baoshan Museum. The old air base used by the Flying Tigers has been replaced by a modern airport.
Location: 25°36' N. 100°15' E.
Altitude: 1972 meters / 6470 feet.
Location: 25°07' N. 99°10' E.
Altitude: 1655 meters / 5430 feet.
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