Yuxi to Huanian

42 miles – (10.17.2010)

Big day today.

Road out of Yuxi deteriorated quickly into a quagmire of thick, red clay mud and hidden rocks. Road workers assured us that, though virtually impassable, it was the only route for bicycles. Lots of big trucks (mostly carrying dirt and rocks for fixing the road) were churning up the mud in the muddy bits and tossing clouds of dirt in our faces in the dry bits. Oh the horror. Then, as we paused to ask for directions (the response is almost always just ‘straight on!’ its just hard to believe given the state of the road), Matt slipped and fell into the mud. Just a few easily dealt with cuts and bruises and a lot of mud, but a first for the trip. The grim road continued most of the way to Eshan, where we ate lunch at a little roadside cafe which was probably only established for the road workers.

We got lost leaving Eshan (Shuang Jiang), but finally a petrol pump assistant gave us decent directions to Huanian….on the 213! It’s not in fact mythical. This was the nicest stretch of road so far, which we needed after a very dispiriting morning. The road wound up through green, bamboo coated hills, white painted villages and terraced fields, and we had it essentially to ourselves. It was quiet, the air was fresh, the road was paved, and the scenery beautiful. After about two hours the road peaked, and then continued along a ridge, providing great views. Stopping for a quick snack at the top, and ignorant of our future, we felt very pleased with ourselves, especially realising that we had climbed 1500 ft that day, and didn’t feel too bad.

Huanian, a very small and not very beautiful town lay in a valley 3000 feet below us, and the road just plummeted to meet it, its surface deteriorating in quality with every foot. The sun was setting, and we were just optimistcally discussing a hot meal and a hotter shower…..when I noticed a funny noise and realised my front tire was completely flat. We pulled over to fix it and about half way through the job, the fat drops of rain started to fall and darkness truly set in. Took us over 45 min to fix it (and the brake problem we subsequently caused through our own foolishness) by the light of our headlamps. Setting off down the steep road in the pitch black and pouring rain was miserable. But we had hardly got 500m when we saw lights twinkling in the distance; we had stopped for repairs only about 750m away from town (we knew it was close, we just didn’t realise it was that close).

We must have looked a sorry state, as the proprietor of the town’s guesthouse quickly got us settled, helped us with our bags and didn’t even make us go to the police station to register – instead asking the policeman to come out in the rain to us. And our big room with three beds and a private bathroom (of sorts) was only 8 dollars a night. Although all the restaurants in town were closed (it was 7.30pm after all!), we got a tasty and much needed meal of kebabs, noodles, hot tea and beer at a street stall, with biscuits and milk to follow. So we dealt with a lot of crap today, but the important thing is that we dealt with it, and had all the tools and know-how we needed to do so. And we saw our first truly beautilful scenery too. But tomorrow, we’re going nowhere.

Other pages updated: Pictures, Maps, Statistics

~ by alison on October 20, 2010.

2 Responses to “Yuxi to Huanian”

  1. what a day! so glad to hear that it ended well!

  2. Matthew – we were forwarded your blog address from gramma and grandad. We enjoy keeping up with your travels! We hope you have a fantastic and safe adventure! Love, Aunt Marie and Uncle Jess 🙂

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