Biking in China!

Congjiang Travel Blog

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Drum tower outside Kaili

Three days of biking has brought me to the city of Congjiang, which has an old part and a new part, the latter currently undergoing a lot of construction. It appears that an even older part was demolished to make way for the fancy new part with its big hotels and touristy development.

I has biked around 250km in the past three days through gorgeous scenery. The road from Kaili to Congjiang passes through very mountainous terrain and there were two unexpected mountain passes that I had to conquer (now I know what the big X means on my map). The road curves its way up the mountain and then winds its way back down. There is always a sheer cliff drop on one side and I have to be very careful, especially when tour buses whiz by.

Miao village
I squeeze my brakes tightly through the entire descent, always wary of flying off the road and falling hundreds of metres below.

Despite the rugged terrain, there are so many people everywhere. Every curve of the road (and the river that it follows) brings a new village perched upon a hillside. The land all around the villages has been converted into terraces for growing crops, mostly rice by the looks of it. It is mainly minority (not Han Chinese) that live in these villages, such as the Miao, Dong, and Zhuang. They walk up and down the road between villages in their colourful costumes, the women often carrying heavy loads on their shoulders and the men herding cattle or water buffaloes. Chickens, ducks, geese, and dogs wander around out front of every house.

The tourist trade doesn't seem to be too developed here yet. In my first two nights, I didn't come across any place that looked like a guesthouse or hotel, nevermind a place that accepted Westerners. This meant I spent my first two nights in the countryside sleeping outside. This was harder than it sounds as every bit of land had either people or crops on it. The first night, I slept beside a rice terrace, just below the road. The second night I slept in a ditch, not even big enough to pitch my tent. I was always afraid someone would catch me (wild camping is illegal), so I waited until after dark to set up camp and I was out by sunset. This allowed me to get an early start to the day's biking, but it sure was tiring!

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Drum tower outside Kaili
Drum tower outside Kaili
Miao village
Miao village
Terrace scene
Terrace scene
My first nights campsite
My first night's campsite
Steep mountain pass
Steep mountain pass
Village and terraces by the river
Village and terraces by the river
Second nights campsite
Second night's "campsite"
River scene
River scene
Congjiang
photo by: coolguy