Crossing the three rivers: Yangtse, Mekong, Nujang

It's time to say goodbye to the Himalaya. And where could that be done better than at the 'sink' of the Himalayan Plateau, where four great rivers flow down towards the ocean. Three of them are in China and flow parallel from north to south digging deep canyons: The Yangtze-, the Mekong- and the Nujang-River (in Myanmar known as Salewen).

 

So far so good. For the Yangtze river there is a road from Shangri-la to Deqin going from 3'400m down to about 2'000m and then up to 4'200m again before coming to Deqin again which lies at about 3500m. Roli and I decided to take the bus for this part since there is a lot of very dusty construction on the road. In Deqin we went to see Kawa Karpo, the 6'700m snowpeak just on the boarder between Yunnan and Tibet. A really beautiful peak!

 

From Deqin then by bicycle down into the Mekong valley which is almost as dry as the upper Yangtze valley. This means a downhill from 3'500m to 1'900m and on the other side up again 200m to a little village of farmers. Although the Mekong is only about 20km airline-distance from the Nujang, there is no road to get to the neighboring valley. So the only way to cross the 4'000-6'000m mountainrange is to do it by mule. I hired a mule and two "horsewomen" (the men were all working on a new road) to bring me to the Nujang valley and left Rolli who took the road down the Mekong. We crossed the mountains in a very fast two days nonstop walking trip (normal is three days) on very steep and basic mountaintrails. The mule was carrying my paniers and I was pushing my bicycle. After two days and about 50km we arrived exhausted in Dimaluo down at about 1'800m again.

 

In the Nujang valley there is much more vegetation than in the other two valleys (see picture). A very humid cloud forest in the upper part, bamboo forests and extremly steep slopes with trees, ferns and moss further down. The path? Narrow trekking path and very muddy and steep on the Nujang valley side.

 

This really was a tough road but great trekking...

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Coming home 2

Coming home 10 months after I have left
Coming home 10 months after I have left

Going for a big journey is one thing, but coming home is another. Just today I've got a qoutation from Albert Camus from a cycling buddy:

 

"What gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have... Far from our own language, stripped of all our props... we are completely on the surface of ourselves. But also, soul-sick, we restore to every being and every object its miraculous value."

 

I think this is very true and gets the very point of the adventure of going for a big journey. And now coming home is another adventure. And it breaks down another inner structure again. After so many months on the road with no home but the tent or a hotelroom, the routine of getting on the bike every morning, looking at the sky and the weather, the impression of so many so different people, animals, landscapes, sounds, smells coming home is like another big adventure. An adventure at least as big as the going away. Coming home with all these impressions, life will never be the same again.

 

After two months of asylum at my parents house in the north east of Switzerland I found a place to stay in Zurich in April. So it was time to go for the last bit of my journey: riding the 80km back home to Zurich. I took some small roads through the hills of the Hinterthurgau, crossed the Lake of Zurich on a ferry and reached Zurich Wollishofen almost exactly 10 months after I have left the town by bike (see photo).

 

This is the end of my journey.

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From +30 to -20 degrees Celsius

Snowcovered hills back home
Snowcovered hills back home

Taking a plane with a bicycle always makes me a little bit nervous since there seem not to exist any definitive regulations and it always depends partly on the goodwill of the clerk at the check-in desk. After organizing a carboard-box for the bike and a taxiride to Bangkok International Airport I was checking in as early as possible with 38kg instead of the allowed 30kg. The woman at the counter did some phonecalls but in the end gave me boardingpass and ticket and I didn't have to pay any overweight!! Yeeeesss! It could have been 40$/kg overweight!

 

After one night in Colombo my plane to Switzerland took off at noon on February, 3 and by sunset we landed in Zurich. The temperature outside: minus 11 degrees Celsius and still dropping! And it dropped as far as minus 22 degrees the following night. The next day - exactly eight months after my departure - I cycled the last few km back home through a beautiful snowcovered landscape.

 

Total time: 8 months

Total km: 8'864 km

Total countries: 7 (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand)

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The dewdrop has reached the ocean

After more or less eight months and 8800km of cycling I have reached the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

 

After two weeks in Chiang Rai I missed my bicycle. So I took a bus down to Bangkok again just to take my bicycle on the train and head for the Cambodian border at Aranya Prathet where I crossed the border three weeks before. I decided to make a little detour through Cambodia before heading south to the sea. I passed through the colonial City of Battambang and continued from there south to the borderprovince of Pailin, known for gemstones and beeing the last "Khmer Rouge Resort". From here I cycled straight down to Trat at the Gulf of Thailand and took a boat to the remote jungle-island of Koh Kut (picture).

 

The Island is the perfect lonely-beach-paradise and endpoint of my pilgrimage from the Central Asian deserts over the Himalayan Plateau to the jungles of Southeast Asia. So I pass my remaining days here at the white beaches of Koh Kut.

 

On february, 2 my flight leaves at 7 p.m. from Bangkok International Airport direction Switzerland...

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