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Burma Road.

Where the going gets tough.....

Burma Road.

Where the going gets tough.....

Cycling the Burma Road, section 2

Section 2

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.

Total length: 268 Km

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.

Burma Road west of Xiaguan.
Outside Xiaguan a short stretch of the original Burma Road on the right. The G320 follows the bridge. Section 2 only follows the G320 for a short while and soon after this point the route turns north on more quiet roads.
Burma Road west of Xiaguan.
Outside Xiaguan a short stretch of the original Burma Road on the right. The G320 follows the bridge. Section 2 only follows the G320 for a short while and soon after this point the route turns north on more quiet roads.
Yunlong Bridge at Yangbi.
Yunlong Bridge at Yangbi with the old mosque at the background. The span of this bridge is 39.3 metres. The present bridge was built in 1692 replacing an much older bridge.

Xiaguan to Yangbi (下关 - 漾濞)

40 Km (Or 50 Km from Dali old town)

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.

Walnut trees at Shimen park.
The Shimen gap seen from afar.
The 'Stone Gate' (Shimen, 石门)eco-park just south of Yangbi is a big gap into the Diancang mountain range. The lower slopes are covered by walnut groves. The pylons in front are for the new high-speed rail link.
The main mountain at the back, with peaks of over 4000 metres, separates the park from Dali old town just behind the mountain.
The Stone Gate at Shimen park.
Doctor Zheng Yin Shan.
Doctor Zheng Yin Shan.

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.

Burma Road at Yangbi.
Outside Yangbi the Burma Road starts in earnest.
View over the Yangbi valley.
After the first few hundred meter climb one is rewarded by a view over the Yangbi valley and the Diancangshan Mountains.

Yangbi to Beidou

(漾濞 - 北斗) 51 Km

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

Walnut country.
Walnut country.

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.

Newly erected monument and kilometre marker just east of Taiping.

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.

Monument in the pass just west of Taiping. Looks like a Star wars character was used as a model.
High in the Tingshuilangshan
The pass through the Qingshuilangshan mountain near Taiping.
Fresh Yunnan walnut on offer.
Fresh walnut presented on the Burma Road. Walnut husk stains skin black and nearly everybody in the area has black fingers during walnut harvest season.
Harvesting Yunnan walnuts.
Everywhere the sound of bamboo sticks hitting the trees can be heard during walnut harvest season.
Burma Road leading through a forest.
Another tough stretch of the Burma Road leading through a pine forest.
Qingshuilangshan mountains.
The Qingshuilangshan Mountains that were passed yesterday in the clouds.

Beidou to Yongping

(北斗 - 永平) 30 Km

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.

Ruin along the Burma Road.
Good spot for a picnic this ruin of a rammed-earth building at the high plateau.

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.

Pig on Burma Road.
Not many people on this stretch of the Burma Road but there are still encounters with other road users.

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.

Washed out Burma Road track.
The washed out original Burma Road between Beidou (北斗 = Great Dipper) and MeiHua (梅花 = Plum Blossom) is hardly used nowadays.
Resin tapping on the Burma Road 1.
Resin tapping on the Burma Road 2.
All along this stretch of the road one finds pine trees that are being tapped for pine resin.
Resin tapping on the Burma Road 3.

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.

Burma Road.
People and animals on the Burma Road.
Grave stone for sale along the Burma Road.
Ornamental grave portal for sale near Yongping along the Burma Road.
Grave lions for sale.
Not every stonemason is that skilled in lion carving.
Sorting out walnuts.
Sorting and processing walnuts.

Walnuts everywhere.

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.

Burma Road zigzagging down.
Zigzagging down through corn and tobacco fields.

Yongping to Wayao

(永平 - 瓦窑) 83 Km

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.

For a change a well surfaced road leading into the mountains.
For a change a well surfaced road. After this sign it is indeed getting very steep and the road leads into the cloud covered Qidao Mountains.
Going down to the Bijiang river valley.
A long zigzag road leads over perfect tarmac down to the hamlet of Dalishu (大栗树) in the Pi river valley.
Original Burma Road 1.
Original Burma Road 2.
Original Burma Road 3.
Passed Dalishu one can take the new road or stay with the original Burma Road while it goes down to the Pi river.
Washed-out culvert repaired in typical Burma Road fashion.
This washed out culvert has been repaired in an typical Burma Road fashion.
Where the Gongguo bridge used to stand.
A reservoir drowned the spot where the Pi River joined the Lancangjiang. The New Gongguo Bridge, spanning the Lancangjiang, stood in the middle of this picture.

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.

Burma Road and Mekong River (Lancangjiang).
When the reservoirs were build in the Lancangjiang (Mekong) parts of the Burma Road disappeared under water. Some small stretches are still visible down from the dam.
Making a living by selling home made items made out of bamboo.
Walnut sales along the Burma Road.
Early morning in Wayao where the people come down to sell their walnuts to traders touring the area. Wayao is a busy market town for several of the tribes living in the area.

Wayao to Baoshan

(瓦窑 - 保山) 66 Km

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 old main road in Banqiaozhen 1.
The old main road in Banqiaozhen 2.
The old main road in Banqiaozhen 3.
Time looks to stand still on the old main road in Banqiaozhen.
Baoshan Museum.
The Baoshan museum in the shape of a copper drum.

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.

Old lady sorting drying corn.
Maybe these hands, now carefully handling corn, once handled gravel for the Burma Road.
Old man playing Mahjong.
Mahjong the favourite pastime all over China. No way you will beat these Mahjong titans with their many years of experience.


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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