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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India

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Old 10 Jan 2017
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Location: canada
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CHINA 2016 "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc PART 1

CHINA 2016 , THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER!! 6 MONTHS AND 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc



"As for riding in China, you don't really need to "get permission" so much as just make sure you have the right documentation just like riding in any other country. China doesn't accept any international license so you have to convert to a local license by taking the written test. I've heard they have a temporary one you can get too that lasts for 6 months. Other than that, once you get a bike, just make sure you have all the proper paperwork, which the place you buy from can help you sort out (license, registration, insurance, etc.). Now of course, that's all assuming you want to ride fully legally. Lots of people who ride in China pick up cheap second hand bikes and just ride. If you're foreign (and even Chinese) a lot of time you won't get bothered. "


THIS IS A MINI GUIDE. No travel books i found have this information SPECIFICALLY about a long, independant, motorcycle trip in china. i hope at least one person will use this, then it was worthwhile! REMEMBER: NO "TRUE ADVENTURE" COMES EASY ! ENJOY!

CONTENTS: about 17 pages in total
15 - MAPS

hi everyone. i just finished my trip on december 2nd 2016. riding a chinese 125 cc "fosti" brand motorcycle. after motorcycling in europe, all around north , central and south america, i would say, in my opinion, that CHINA IS IN THE TOP 5 COUNTRIES, ive ever motorcycled in!. hundreds of spectacular mountain scenes! ( in 18 different provinces!) ...... about 15 never seen before natural sights for me!(gongga shan mountain 7,750 meters in Sitchuan)......... a few top archeological museums with history dating back to 4,000 YRS. before christ!( Beijing and terra cotta soldiers in Xi'an)......... china has at least 20 different walled cities/ towns. (best- pingyao, shanxi) .......... i saw about 20 unique "great wall" sections!(there used to be 8,000 kms of wall).......... even an excellent dinosaur museum! (zigong, sichuan) ........ and palaces and fortresses!.........many awesome remote buddhist monasteries at 3,000-4,500 meters(southeast qinghai).......dozens of SUPER-HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES that have out-done most western countries(bridge 400 meters high/800meters long)........and the second time ive ever ridden over a 5,200 meter pass (Zadoi, QINGHAI province)......If there's one province that has it all ,for riding bike, its Sichuan province in my opinion!

I'M NOT SURE, but I MAY BE THE 1ST FOREIGNER to ever (guide-lessly) motorcycle in china for 6 months and 24,000kms? and i'll be going back!

A MULTIPLE ENTRY VISA OF 2 MONTHS PER ENTRY.... THAT LASTS FOR THE LIFE OF YOUR PASSPORT. thats the visa i got as a canadian. with this type of visa, ideally, you could ride your locally bought motorcycle for 2 months and store it somewhere . Then go home for a few months (as i did once)... then return again and again to see all china at your own pace!!!. One American guy said he also got the same type of visa when he applied at home.( 2 month, multiple entry)............ many europeans i met had a 30 day visa but i never asked if it was multiple!

this plan was hatched in canada after many hours of online searching. horizons unlimited/ advrider.com and then more from 1st hand stories in china (bugsonmyboard.net dec.2015) and finally by conversations with motorcycle repairmen and salesmen in china. all gave me enough confidence to buy a 125cc. 5 speed, clutch bike...... instead of a 50cc.bike. as was the case in the bugsonmyboard.net story!!!!

after 4.5 months of travelling in thailand, laos, cambodia and vietnam. i back-packed and was able to rent motorcycles/scooters in all these countries whenever i came close to popular riding areas. i would store my back pack at hostels / hotels and only took a day pack. and would travel for up to 6 days, when permited. i rode about 35 days in total.
once i finished in south east asia, i applied for the visa at the chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. after a frantic 10 days of visa preparation and my 1st look at the lonely planet book for china(2013). i began to start my plans while waiting the 5 or more working days to process my visa.........then i entered china on buses northward to Nanning city in Guangxi province in april 2016. arriving with my backpack and a freshly bought tent, sleeping bag, and air mattress. ( which was recommended by several travellers) from Hanoi for about 200 u.s. dollars. at a camping specialty shop. i was trying to beat the rainy season in south china, which i knew became worse in mid april. a few days later i was in Guilin city , Guangxi province. i started to search for a motorcycle when i found that the chinese bikes were about $400 u.s. cheaper than the same size/type of japanese motorbikes with the same 125 cc. engine. i bought a Chinese 2015 model (last years stock) for $707 u.s. dollars. Normally all other chinese 125cc brand street bikes were $850 u.s. ..japanese honda/suzuki/yamaha 125cc. streetbike =$1,250 u.s. ( 150cc dual sport) chinese bikes were about $1,300 - $1500 u.s.) but i never saw one for sale where i was looking.... "zhongshen" brand has a 250cc off road bike which looks almost as big as a 650 klr kawasaki with heavy duty shocks, etc.. i never saw these for sale in Guilin city in Guangxi, but only rarely in china on the road. i assume larger bikes will be available in larger cities with more than 5 million population.
then i found a parts store and bought a few goodies necessary. helmet , gloves, chain lube and rain gear. then about 3 long good bungees(rubber straps) to hold my 70 lb. backpack on, laying the backpack on passenger seat and the luggage rack and sticking out off the end about 40- 50 centimeters. so now, i had the bike, international drivers licence(which had a translation in chinese), the ownership papers of my bike and i drove off!.................6 months later, i was exiting from Yunnan province, i sold my bike within 2 hours for $100 u.s. then crossed border into Laos . my trip was basically a zig-zagging circle around central china, seeing all the highlights!
of course it all wasnt so easy, as you will find in the following details. my most difficult problem in first weeks, was that i never used a smart phone before or gps maps or translators. i also did not know any chinese and i kept buying 4G sim cards for my 2G or 3G? phone. which seemed to slow it down even more? and the language was next to impossible to pronounce correctly for me. after 6 months i knew about 70 words, the ones i had to use almost every day. i averaged 150 to 200 kilometers per day! which gave me about 8 days per month off the bike for local sight-seeing.

im in my 50's in age and have travelled/ worked abroad for about 16 of the last 30 years. i have only met 4 people in my life that travelled cheaper than me. this will be reflected in my costs during this story. i fell in love with the learning while travelling. this became a passionate obsession. for many years i was still able to travel 5 months a year while i made less than $20,000 canadian dollars per year! i have learned german and spanish while working in those countries. and i usually was able to learn about 200-300 words in one month in each country i travelled............until i got to south east asia and china.!!
i rode dirt bikes from 14 - 32 years old, then bought my 1st street bike. i've owned at least 14 different motorbikes in my life. and about 12 cars. my 1st ever new vehicle was my chinese motorbike while in china.
20 years ago, i hit a tree in my home town on a street motorbike. after a long recovery, im left with a paralized left arm. 4 years later i rode a bicycle 8,000 kms. thru mexico and central america. though that was amazing and life changing, i decided it was too slow and hence more costly than buses , trains or planes. so, i bought a 90 cc motorscooter and rode 10,000 kms. through colombia with girlfriend and luggage on back. then realized i could get back on a regular motor bike with simple modifications (clutch and turn signal switch on left side is stuffed onto the right handle bar). then i bought a 1983 honda xlr 250cc. (which was 22 yrs. old at the time). i took this bike right around south america for 58,000 kms. over 1.5 yrs. and yes, i had a few problems on that motorbike. and i carry a set of essential tools with me always. i have, and still today , maintain and repair everything on all of my cars and motorcycles.
i now have a 2009 kawasaki klr650 at home and rode this for about 60,000kms. with only one problem, pinhole in radiator (factory problem?). otherwise just regular maintenace, tires, chain an sprockets. and i bought it with 20,000 kms on it. i recommend it highly as a cheapest 650 tour bike, that should get you 80,000kms before anything screws up!! starting in 2009 the "doohickey"(cam chain tensioner spring) has finally been fixed at the factory. but remember i drive reasonably and rarely ride/slip the clutch during full power shifting.... but i gotta sell it. cause its a bitch to pick up, one handed, when i drop it. and it sucks too much fuel. and with one hand its also way overpowered for my taste and safety.

WAS IT LEGAL for me to do this? .........no, im sure it wasn't legal.......
-- ITS ALL ABOUT NOT HAVING LICENCE PLATES, OR NUMBER PLATES. and it will be likely the main reason you may be pulled over by police IF YOU READ ON I'LL EXPLAIN .

With a chinese identification card you can get a "chinese driving licence" after taking the training. then you can buy your vehicle. after this, you can obtain number plates on a bike which include the insurance and taxes . for both of these, you need to be a resident in china. either permanent, or on a minimum 6 month work visa for foreigners. But you'll see hundreds of cars and thousands of motorbikes driving without number plates around china??. this is because there is a 15 day grace period. this gives you time to obtain the number plates. but you still must have a permit to drive during this grace period . i luckily, did not have any difficulty with no licence plate. as long as i showed them the ownership paper, (which is all written in chinese ) from the company i bought the motorbike from. this , along with my passport , proved it was my motorcycle , matching name and passport number. once again lucky for me , i only once had to show this paper.!!
- also lucky for me, i was never asked if i had any insurance papers at any of the 7 times that police stopped me!
- there are thousands of speeding or traffic light cameras in china . funny, there must be at least 4,000 pictures of me on my bike through-out china from all these traffic cameras. and sometimes i was speeding! i was worried the 1st time i went for a visa run, that they may not let me back in , because i thought they would match my face from the thousands of my pictures to the face on my visa application????? but this was not the case !!! even on the second visa run!!!! again, was this luck? i dont know.? (likely because i had no number plates).............some of these cameras would be taking pictures of every car, truck and bike that passed, wether they were speeding or not. i think these were security cameras, big brother style! so, after all the stress, i just ended up not giving a damn in the last months of having my picture taken. there are possibly, about 200,000,000.... smaller motorcycles in china. and mine was red, this was the most popular color of motorcycles. i would possibly think that bigger bikes might have been stopped by police more often, but im just guessing. and i had a helmet that had large mirrored sunglasses built into the motorcycle helmet. this also pretty much hid the fact that i was a foreigner. many pictures are taken of the front of any vehicle to identify the driver!
- there is a federal law, that says foreigners can't legally drive except with a "chinese style" drivers licence.....???? maybe all the police in china dont know that law, because each of the 3 policemen that asked for my driver's licence, seemed to think my international licence (that had a chinese translation) was just fine, and allowed me to continue on.
- i have to admit , that every time i saw police ahead, i got very nervous. i drove past about 30 situations where police were checking other cars and trucks. but not motorbikes.
- THE POSSIBLE WORSE CASE SCENARIOS,: i asked a motorbike mechanic, "what are the worst possible punishments for driving without number plates? he said, at most, it could be,
- # 1 - a 2 to 3,000 yuan fine ($3 -450 u.s.) .
- or #2 - confiscate the motorcycle
- or #3 - 30 days in jail
- i figured that this risk was worth it............ but i did not include: punishment for no proper chinese drivers licence! or no insurance! or no taxes paid for bike! OR FAR WORSE ...........WHAT IF I HAD AN ACCIDENT AND DAMAGED PROPERTY OR OTHER PERSONS?............WITHOUT LICENCE, NUMBER PLATES AND INSURANCE !!! NOW ITS GETTING INTO THE MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS !! stupidly i never really considered these other things ..............if i did , i would likely not have bought a motorbike! IGNORANCE IS B L I S S ??


from all my years of travel experience, and motorcycling in foreign countries, playing dumn tourist with no language skills and always a big smile is key! remember the "big smile" in every case, when you approach the police.. this shows no fear? and shows confidence/innocence?. this has given me great advantage in the past. next, always say hello in their language. and to tell them, " china is beautiful" (zhonguo mei li da) with the thumbs up signal! i also had another sentence rehearsed to tell the police....for if things got too intense.? if ever they asked for licence plates....i would say " the best way to see the beauty of china is with motorbike", .... have these words saved on your translator.?
- if you ever see police standing on the roadside , avoid them if possible? sometimes it is simply for safety checks for big trucks.
- THE 1ST TIME i met a policeman, while at a gas station filling up in Hunan province. he noticed that i was not using my left hand at the pump. he indicated that i pull aside and wait for him to finish filling his motorbike. then he came over and without a word of english gestured for me to drive ahead of him. i was a little worried, "were we going to the police station"? but i kept checking in my mirror and he was just behind me. i thought he has to be in front to lead me to wherever we were going? then after a kilometer or so of us going slow, he honked for me to stop. he drove up beside me, put his thumb up and nodded his head. then he drove away in front of me, at a high speed. it took me a minute to realize it was over. then it came to me, he was just checking that i could drive safely with my one hand !!!! man, what a relief! i chuckled to myself.
- THE 2ND TIME.....i was stopped at a traffic light and i noticed 3 guys jump out of the small pick-up truck behind me and came at me!. shit, i thought these guys were going to rip off my motorbike! they stood around the bike looking at it carefully , and one guy showed me he had an identification card around his neck . then he said "police, do you speak chinese" , all in english! i answered in english "only about 20 words". he hesitated, then they all ran back to their truck because the light turned green . they drove behind me for about 4 more kms. then turned off the road.? i can only assume that they also were curious that i was driving with one hand and were just checking me out?
- THE 3RD TIME. I was on a long stretch of straight highway going slightly downhill, at the bottom i saw an 18 wheel truck pulled over, and 2 people walking around it. at about 30 meters away , one guy flagged me to stop . it was a policeman!. he noticed i was a foreigner when i pulled my sunglasses up. he turned around to his partner and they said a few sentences. the 2nd cop walked away and the first just gave me a hand signal, that i should slow down, then he walked away. i drove off. i wondered if they had a radar gun? because i was driving 90 to 100 km. per hour as i approached , (60 or 70 is the legal limit) and i was caught off gaurd when the one motioned me to stop. so it was probably because he noticed i was going too fast for a bike as i approached ..? at this point of my trip, i had noticed that pretty much all motorbikes were rarely going faster than 60 kms. per hour on most highways! well , once again, nothing happened.
- THE 4TH TIME. i was driving in a beautiful park north of beijing and there was a gate and small building on my side of road. no getting around this i thought. there were a few policemen there. one asked for a driver licence i guess, showing me an i.d. sized card using his hands. i showed him my international driving licence. then he indicated for my passport. which i showed him. he was already looking at my bike controls, cause now he knows my left hand isnt working. i showed him my limp arm by pulling it out of my pocket. and he called his buddies over with laughing and lots of conversation. then he pointed to where my licence plate should be and i finally pulled out my photocopy of the ownership paper! he checked that it matched with my name and passport. then continued to ask me where i had been and where was i going, etc. etc.. he asked me to pull the bike aside and gave me all my papers back. by this time i was almost 2 months into the trip and i new a good 60 words to keep answering these policemen's questions. with lots of "china is beautiful, and compliments of how i was ( truly ) impressed by this time of what i saw in china". NOTE: ( be sure that your passport number and full name and country, are on your ownership papers.! and home adress as well.?
- ALSO NOTE: 2-3 weeks of great motorbiking is just north of Beijing and westward or southwest toward shanxi province. this area has awesome mountain and historic scenery , national mountain parks and several sections of "great wall" in many places. ( AND MAYBE NOW, BEI JING HAS MOTORBIKE RENTALS!!) LOOK ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THIS POSSIBILITY?
- A week or so later i was also north of beijing looking for good "great wall" sections. in a small town there was another police control gate. i was going north and on my side of the road, the gate was left open and no one was there to stop vehicles , so i drove thru. no problems. later that day i was coming back that way and i knew that the control gate was around the next corner. i didnt really want the trouble of getting all the paperwork out again. so i stopped and looked at my g.p.s. at the 100 or the 50 meter scale, and found there was only one small side road about 100 meters before the gate that went into a small cute town that was just 300 meters ahead. so i took that side road and casually turned left onto it, as if i was a local with my sunglasses covering my eyes. and no one seemed to notice or care at the control gate. i was checking to see if anyone came following me, but no , nothing. and in 700 meters i came back out onto the highway on the other side of the gate!. saving me the possible stress of being asked for all my paperwork again.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: i really think that with my common little 125 cc motorbike, i would often look like a local . and as a result i drew no attention towards me.
- THE 5TH TIME......was a simple situation when i was at the Leshan huge budda just south of Chengdu city in sichuan province. i was trying to find a parking place on the street, and after i parked it, a walking policeman asked me for my licence. i showed him my international licence and in 2 seconds he gave it back and walked away! no problem!
- THE 6TH TIME.... was in south sichuan province and in 8 seconds they let me go on. the police were parked on the side of the road (just outside a village) and got out and stopped me. the one guy asked me something and was pointing to the licence plate. i answered, "its in the mail" in english. ( i was already becoming way too confident! ) he looked at his partner, said a few words , and then motioned for me to go.! not asking for anything else!
- THE 7TH TIME.... in the city of zigong, sichuan province. i was driving in the city and one policeman flagged me to stop. he asked me for what i thought was my licence, i pulled out my international licence and translation and he read a few lines of it and handed it back to me and gestured for me to go. that was it. over in one minute!
- all police accepted my chinese transalation inside my international drivers licence. 3 TIMES! with no hesitation!
- NO Policeman i met spoke english, (well ok, one spoke 4 words and then left). - 3 TIMES I WAS ABLE TO DRIVE AWAY WITHIN SECONDS BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT SPEAK ENGLISH AND WAVED FOR ME TO GO.
- 2 times , they stopped me because of my driving with one hand. which would not have happened with the normal 2 handed drivers. see more in the "about me" section.
- i have learned now that motorbikes are stopped more often in the bigger cities
- if they ever insisted on, "where is your licence plate" then i gave them a copy of my owner certificate and passport . THIS ONLY EVER HAPPENED ONCE TO ME!
- of course, if i ever saw police up ahead , especially in cities, i would turn left or right onto a side street and find my way around them. even though i was sure from most experience, that i would most often, not be stopped. i drove past, about 25 times, where police had stopped other vehicles for whatever reason.
- i had my home licence as well , as a back up?

6 ESSENTIALS i had FOR MOTORCYCLING IN CHINA: G.P.S. AND PHONE APPS: ........i used android phone and dont know anything about apple phones? - INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENCE AND TRANSLATION of your INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LICENCE into chinese, if it doesnt already have one?.
- carry a copy of your OWNERSHIP PAPER to show police, and keep the originals in a safe place. its your only proof that you did not steal the bike! AND NEEDED FOR RESELLING BIKE.
- get personal extra travel medical insurance if you need? that will cover you riding on a motorcycle! ??
- get 3rd party liability insurance for your bike.? minimum or more? as you like. I DID NOT HAVE THIS, NOR WAS I EVER ASKED FOR PROOF OF INSURANCE!! LUCK?
- CHINESE "MAPS.BAIDU.CN" G.P.S. mapping (i used "maps.baidu.cn"). its under "appstore" search "maps china". this can be gotten before china or while in china! great for finding hotels and prices, and to locate road construction areas along highways or cities!
- TRANSLATOR APP'S, do an appstore search 'chinese translator". to get "baidu translate" app I USED THIS ONE, which does not need google services, and can also be gotten before or inside china. ALTHOUGH THIS APP IS CHINESE , IT WILL RECOGNIZE THAT YOU HAVE ENGLISH IN YOUR PHONE and then it will open always with english. AND IT IS FAIRLY EASY TO LEARN HOW TO USE FOR restaurant menu's, taking pictures of road signs to translate, translates spoken and written sentences, then will write out and speak out in chinese. writing on app is better for a clean important translation! remember, the worse your data signal or wifi signal the worse the translator will translate!!!!
and the "pleco" translator app is good for "offline" translating (but this only translates one word at a time!!) you can only get this outside of china! or with a v.p.n.
- "msn.com'' "bing" search engine is available in english while your in china, to be used for buying flight tickets (i was able to buy stuff online with my visa card in china) or searching for hostel details at hostelworld.com or booking.com
- IMPORTANT: WITHOUT A V.P.N. (virtual proxy/private network) YOU CAN NOT GET ANYTHING TO DO WITH GOOGLE... EG: Google app's, google play services(needed for google maps) facebook, google search, youtube , GOOGLE TRANSLATE or anything owned or operated by google, maybe even gmail? but im not sure. also in china you cannot access any type of news or blog or opinion site of any kind. once i was inside china it was not easy to get a vpn. ?? i suggest you have your vpn running and open before you arrive in china! or it may not even start up inside china- this happened to me.! SOME HOSTELS IN CHINA HAVE THEIR WIFI RUNNING ON A V.P.N.
- GET A "CHINA MOBILE" BRAND S.I.M. CARD (shoji car) once in china. this was the 1st original government PHONE/ANTENNA system, and it seems to have the most coverage throughout the country! you're better off hiring a translator to help you with this!
- BUYING THE 1ST S.I.M.! as a foreigner you can only get a sim card at an "official government run, china mobile store". these are only found in larger cities, not small towns. be sure they know that you want coverage in several or all provinces , known as roaming! you should also pay for all the months your travelling, ahead of time. otherwise youll have to do this all over again! also its far easier to pay an english speaking hostel receptionist, or other to come with you to translate for you on her time off. with a personal translator it could be done in 20 minutes, if there is no line up. any translator will be happy with 30 to 50 yuan per hour.($4 -7.00 dollars).............. with out translator it took me 3-4 hours to be sure i got what i wanted/needed. language is a huge problem here!!! and one screw up could be a major hassle when on the road, as happened twice to me!
- FOR ME, I GOT minimum 1.5 gig per month with correct compatability to your 3G or 4G phone. for me, 2 gig of "data only" per month was 70 yuan($10.00 u.s. dollars) if you want phone use, one package deal is 500 minutes calling and 2 gig data costs 138 yuan ($18.00 u.s.)
- if travelling alone , you must be prepared not to see another foreigner or speak any english for up to 2 or 3 weeks in the remote deserts and western china, inner mongolia, gansu, qinghai, xinjiang this was my experience. and in many areas, the only english channel may be "cctv news"- thats exactly how it shows up on the t.v..... written on the menu or the channel itself is labelled this way if your just scrolling through all the channels. if you cant find it yourself ask the hotel reception if they can find it or if they even have it. otherwise you may get lucky , as some documentaries or movie channels have english subtitles. every hotel over 69 yuan had a t.v. some provinces had french or even german stations!
- if you dont have a 12 volt phone charger from the motorbike battery, then buy a spare battery and have it charged every night . i did this, and often i had to be very careful on many days not to run out of power before i got to my hotel at night.
- you can find a telephone "clamp" style holder for your bike. AVAILABLE AT MOST CELL PHONE/SUPPLY STORES IN CHINA.2 OR $3 DOLLARS one clamp attatched to my handlebars other end clamps onto your phone. in between is a stiff bendable type of cable. then it can stay mounted to use, while you ride.
- BANKS in larger cities, 50,000 or more, accepted my bank cards. but not all of them. i used mostly "bank of china ". in cities smaller than these, you cant get money. plan to always have enough money until the next large city. carry some u.s. dollars in case of emergency!

- COMMUNICATION TO ANYWHERE OUTSIDE CHINA.?............i was able to use microsoft type emails to the outside world. outlook, yahoo, hotmail....... and i was using skype for phone calls. it seems most people dont know that with a minimum payment of $14.00 u.s. to your skype account, then you will be able to call cell-phones and land- lines anywhere in the world, for an average of $1.00 u.s. per 60 minutes of calling. yes, $1.00 u.s. per hour!
- "WIFI" IS IN EVERY HOSTEL AND HOTEL ! AND MOST BETTER RESTAURANTS....you will see it advertized some where in front of restaurants.
- if you have a BLOG OR WEBSITE of your travels and want to access them. i'm not sure, but i think you must have a v.p.n. i was not able to go to any such site that had a free thinking personal opinion! ALL THOSE THINGS ARE BLOCKED.
- RESPECT THE LOCAL CHINESE CULTURE ....which also may mean, that while inside china, i would not go anywhere, speaking loudly about anything that could be determined as negative towards china or its government. this may get you or some local people in trouble with their government. RESPECT THE LOCAL CHINESE CULTURE and especially dont let too many local people know about this whole idea im writing about, "motorcycling in china". as one never knows who may speak of this to any government official that may think of changing the rules!

i bought my bike in Guilin city, Guangxi. province. i was first in Nanning city, in Guangxi but it had 5 million people and huge traffic problems with road construction every where. i took a taxi for 45 minutes that cost me about $10u.s. and i know most youth hostels are not near motorcycle dealers. so i decided to leave the city, as i knew i would be spending a lot of time and money in taxis to get around to find a motorbike and all the gear i needed. i then went to the popular spot of yangshuo town about 200 kms. north east of nanning with about a population of 25,000. but it had no gas powered motorcycles, only electric motorbikes. this is the case in much of china. as there is a new law " that all larger cities and some small, "that no gas powered motorcycles are allowed for any local residents". only electric scooters are allowed if you are registered as living in those cities. then i went to Guilin city, about 60 kilometers north of yangshuo town, a city of 1 or 2 million. i found a hostel called "wada international hostel"( its on hostelworld.com ), it is a little over 1 kilometer from the main bus station. and luckily the hostel was a little over one kilometer from the motorcycle dealerships. i hired a receptionist girl from the hostel to translate for me for about 25 yuan per hour, during the time she was not working at the hostel. and she was very happy with that money. and here the motorcycle dealers sold, 70% electric and 30% gas powered bikes! i did not see any dual sport bikes here , but plenty of street 125cc and 150cc and a few 200cc. but i did see a guy on a 150 dual sport, but could not ask to find where he bought it? IF YOU WANT A BIKE LARGER THAN 200CC, I THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TO GO TO BIG CITIES, LIKE Nanning, Guangxi or Kunming, Yunnan, or you could fly into Beijing, or Shanghai, to surely get bikes there! but i dont know any prices?
- i also had seen in china other motorbikes that looked exactly like mine that were 150cc/ and 175cc and possibly even 250 cc. as i have read on some blogs or on horizons unlimited, that it used to be that the government never sold any motorbike larger than a 250cc. because then you could never out-run a police motorbike!! which are always only 250 cc.!! but i saw about 20 motorbikes over my whole trip that were over 500 cc., so that 250cc rule no longer holds! i think these big bikes are surely only sold in the huge cities. because i dont remember ever seeing them at a moto-store where i was looking. ALSO the 175 or 250cc bikes would be enough for two-up on a bike in china. because i was two-up on a 250 enduro in south america , with all luggage , for about 15,000 kilometers. .. but all bikes start to lose power above 2,000 meters and at -4,000 meters or more you can lose up to 40% of your power! i know this because i was two-up on a HONDA 250CC enduro in south america , with all luggage , for about 15,000 kilometers. but still at all elevations it would GET UP TO 100 KMS.(60 m.p.h.) PER HOUR ON FLATTER ROADS..
- as i was leaving china from southern Yunnan province, i stopped in a small city called Jianshui. this city is located about 550 kms north east of the Laos main border crossing, which is about 70kms west of Kaiyuan. this city had also 2 hostels (with english speakers) (typha international youth hostel) and reasonable hotels. these were located only 600 meters north, north/east of the main street of (Fu'an road) that sold 100's of gas powered motorcycles!!! and had many parts stores! so thats another option if your coming from Laos into south China.
- 1ST DAY, LOOKING AT ALL THE DEALERS. comparing all bike prices , and trying to decide which bike i will buy for my needs?.
- 2ND DAY. I NEEDED A TRANSLATOR FOR 2 HOURS TO DO A LOT OF MOTORCYCLE FACT FINDING. like how much money does the bike cost in total.? will i get official reciepts? , what is the warrantee/ gaurantee ON BIKE AND MOTOR? where is the nearest parts store?, camping gear store? ETC. ETC. REMEMBER, YOU CAN NOT GET NUMBER PLATES IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN CHINA.!
- 3RD DAY. hire translator, BUY BIKE, AND HEAD TO PARTS/ ACCESSORIES STORE IF NEEDED. so you can get the extra stuff you want and gear? ALSO REMEMBER. all parts include installation!
- THE MOTORCYCLE I BOUGHT WAS A 125cc. A chinese "FOSTI" name brand. i call it a "screamer" cause the redline on the tachometer is 10,000 rpm.
- I paid $707 u.s. (4,600 yuan) for this new "Fosti" brand . But it was last years stock that didnt sell. therefore the cheaper price.
- All other chinese brands were about $150u.s. more(1000 yuan ) because they were this years model.
- yes, i know the stories about the low quality chinese bikes. but i know now, after good inspection, and driving 24,000 kms. on one, that they are better than they used to be. because of competition with the japanese bikes . so they have been slowly modifying them to match japanese quality.
- the Japanese bikes are almost double the price of chinese at about 11-12,000 yuan
- other chinese brands I would SUGGEST are..... HOUJUE, ZHONGSHEN, JIALING , OR JIANCHE. as these seem to be the majority i saw everywhere. but there are about 25 different brands all over the country. I didnt see my FOSTI brand bike anywhere else in china except for northern sichuan!
- zhongshen brand has a heavy duty, seemingly well built 250 enduro or dual sport, moto . Or theres the odd 150cc. non-heavy duty off road (dual sport) chinese bikes. Remember 90% of roads. Are in good shape when looking at the whole country. a dual sport may be better if you intend to stay mostly in the far south provinces like Yunnan, Guangxi , Hunan, Guizhou or Guangdong, then you may be better off buying a dual sport? because these provinces have lots of landslides and more construction due to the heavy rainfall in the wet season. then during the dry season these roads are being repaired, slowly because these provinces have less money for road repairs! the best time for travelling in these southern provinces are november through to end of march. one can still drive the bike i had in the south also but it wiil slow you down.!
- the most important thing is to be sure that the warrantee is good for 1 year or more on the motor! this shows that the manufacturer trusts it till about 20-30,000 kms. my bike had one year on motor and i think 2 years on all other parts! get the salesman to show you the actual warrantee! this lets you know that the company knows for sure it will last for 20 to 30,000 kms. because no company wants to pay to fix anything for free during a warrantee period!
- ASk FOR DIRECTIONS TO BIGGEST OR CLOSEST PARTS STORE....as often motorcycle sales stores do not sell any parts....only helmets. if you have big hands like me, good gloves are difficult to find. if you find a reasonably good pair, buy them. as its hard to find any in the south of china where it doesnt get too cold all year. good water-proof gloves are also hard to find. if you need good rain- gear or camping gear you will find "western quality" at specialized camping stores. but it will cost closer to western prices. for i only found 2 of these in Guilin city, Guangxi, a city of 2 million! camping is not popular! LOCAL RAIN GEAR IS USUALLY CHEAPER P.V,C. TYPE MATERIAL. but it does the job!
i did buy a tent and sleeping bag in hanoi i paid about $100 u.s. for both. i found a reasonable air mattress and good rain pants in Guilin camping store for about $70 u.s. but if you want to camp it is possible but you'll have to "wild" camp. i never did see a campground. but i wasnt looking either? the only place i saw that openly allowed free camping was in any of the tibetan plateax areas of Qinghai, west Sichuan, or northwest Yunnan and maybe inner mongolia?


Last edited by single-handed; 13 Jan 2017 at 10:04.
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Old 10 Jan 2017
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CHINA 2016 "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc PART 2

- 5 speed cable clutch style. ergonomic classic style low seat bike, square bore engine design that redlined at 10,000 rpm. had speedometer and tachometer.
- 4.5 inch shock travel both front and back. adjustable rear shocks. air cooled engine. - tubeless tires. - wide comfortable seat
- my bike had a metal oil screen filter that could be cleaned at every oil change. it was located on the bottom left side of engine, behind a large screw cap! i think many chinese bikes have this. and you will have to remind the oil change people to clean it.
- my bike , at the time i sold it (24,000 kms.) had no smoke coming out the exhaust . both cables , throttle and clutch were in great shape on inspection. and only once i found a small piece of debri in the oil filter screen. clutch had no slipping. although i did have to buy 4 new blinker bulbs, 2 brake light bulbs and 3 new headlight bulbs!
- At high elevation it gets from 30 to 37 kms per litre, at lower elevations, about 45kms/ litre. Thats about 110 miles per gallon! And its a 10 litre tank/ 2.5 gallon.
- front disc brake and rear drum. i use front brake most of the time and replaced pads twice ($1.50 u.s. per pair, installed)!, the rear brake shoes never needed replacing! on the front brakes i noticed they were slightly more spongy than my japanese bike at home but it wasnt air in the line. the mechanics there, said thats normal for all bikes , so i assumed it was slightly cheaper / softerquality brake hoses that caused the spongy-ness?
- the only other thing i wondered about was that this bike was tight to shift in any gear, i asked a mechanic and he told me that FOSTI brand was well known for this, and that i shouldn't worry about it ! it got slightly better when i took more slack out of the clutch cable. but be careful to have your 1/2 play in the clutch lever end , so you wont start it slipping! and shifting improved even more when i shifted at higher rpms..4,000 and above....then, after about ten thousand kilometers it was getting far easier to shift in the first 3 gears. so, to me , this indicated that the gears were not "heli-cut" gears. heli -cut gears are the standard for years in the west countries. as it does make for easier shifting. so my bike manufacturer was trying to save a little money and did not install the more expensive heli-cut gears. no matter what, i never had any problems with the gears for the 24,000 kilometers i owned it.
- my bike had wider and more aggressive tire design than most, they were the "kenda" brand chinese tire. i got 22,000 kms on back tire, as it was at the wear bars. the front tire was only half worn when i sold it at 24,000kms. i only once had a slow leak in back tire from a small nail.
- the rear luggage rack was flush with the back seat, which made it better/smoother for strapping my large back pack onto it. i never did get any side cases, as i could never find them. but also after a week or so, i liked the idea that my back pack came off and on , easily in 1 minute. and every thing i owned came up to my room at night. from my front crash bar pockets, i would put all the valuables in a bag and carry that up to the room as well this i st i had 3 good long bungee(rubber cords) that held it on even when on terribly pot-holed roads at high speeds. it never fell off the entire trip. but twice the rubber cords broke and it still stayed on barely, with the two other cords. i always carried a spare, they are available at most hardware stores. inspect their condition every few days! for rain i just had bought large heavy duty pieces of plastic that wrapped around the whole backpack, then i would strap it on the bike with the same bungees.
- after driving it for a few hundred kilometers, i found that 1st gear was useles. first gear would be screaming at 15 kms an hour. and at hundred kms. per hour i was revving at 7,000 rpm. so i decided to change the sprockets, using One tooth bigger sprocket in front and 4 teeth less in the back. I've done this on many of my travel bikes. after this change , it was like removing 1st gear and adding a 6th gear (like an over drive gear). As this motorbike was geared to haul heavy loads up to 350 lbs. and i found it to be quite useless for what i needed . and now i needed just a little bit of clutch slip to start out in the new 1st gear.
- also after the sprockets change, i could cruise at 80 to 100 km/hour between 5 an 6000 rpm. where this bike has its power. and still be far away from the 10,000 rpm redline on the tachometer. and this also works out, after 6 months, riding 4 hours a day, 22 days per month, that my motor did 35,640,000 times less r.p.m. than if i didnt change the sprockets.. i just worked it out on my calculator! and you'll save gas.!!!
- i was always hangin around 4 to 6000 rpm. all day long.
and 5000 rpm is 80 kms per hour . And thats fully loaded with me 170lbs, and luggage of 70 to 80 lbs.
- Max horsepower is at 8500 rpm 8.5 horsepower and max torque at 7500rpm. But ive only gone to 7,500 rpm. 5 times. Of course when im above 2500 meters these characteristics start to change. And at 4000 meters to 5200 meters there is no power below 4000 rpm and it wont rev higher than 6000rpm. On a flat rd at 4,500 meters, i can still get to 90 kms per hour but on any serious hill ill be forced to use only 1 st or 2nd gear at 25 to 40 kms per hour. the Only quick fix for this is to lean out carb mix screw about a 1/4 turn. But thats only worth the trouble if your going to spend all day or days at those altitudes. And this will only gain you about 8 kms per hour. better to leave it alone! if you dont change the screw back, at lower elevations the motor could overheat and damage something!!
- my motorbike you'll see on my pictures! and my full windshields! i always like this as it blocks cold wind and rain and no howling wind in my ears all day long. A quiet peaceful meditative ride!
- i bought a great set of front crash bars that blocked wind and rain. potected me in a few mild falls, but best of all , they had one storage container on each side that had about 3 cubic litres space in each. in these i would store my few tools, spare accessories, put my 2 half litre water bottles inside, a few snacks for the day, my camera, phone, wrag, and chain oil spray can. and this crash bar set, cost only $15u.s..100 yuan
. The 2 sprockets were about 80 yuan. And my chain and sprockets would have lasted to about 27,000 kms. i never did need to change them, even when i sold the bike!

- the chinese bikes are reliable and have cheap (real cheap) parts. When you buy any part it in china, the price includes installation; even oil will be changed when you buy it. right there at the parts store!
- New front brake pads were $1.50 u.s. installed. Yes!! 10yuan!! New set of mirrors $1.50 ....a full sized 1/8 inch thick windshield, 40 yuan($6.00u.s.) good to 105 kms per hour OR MORE!
- THE PROBLEM WITH LOCAL MOTOR OIL? The bad oil that everyone will try to sell you, must be changed every 400kms.! yes, its like water! Which is actually more expensive than buying good quality western oils..THAT I USED ALWAYS TO 5,000 KMS. once i bought fake "yamalube oil" in the same blue container 10/40 on the label. sealed cap even.... but he only wanted 35 yuan for it.. well after 500 kms. i noticed more difficult shifting and excessive clutch chattering when starting out in first gear!!! i was ripped off! i then changed it to "shell advance" oil..15/ 40 with small lettering "AX-3" below the shell label. i think "AX5 AND AX7" ARE ALSO O.K.? it cost me 45 YUAN. and it worked great! THESES WIERD NUMBERS ARE THE CHINESE OIL QUALITY RATINGS... usually the good "real" WESTERN BRANDS of oil costs 45 or 50 yuan . NEVER PAY LESS ,OR ITS FAKE also you can buy "TOTAL" brand oil, ItS A CHINESE brand synthetic oil that should cost about 70 to 90 yuan. im not sure but i think its rating was "SE". Any less and it will be pirate or fake. Ive used this oil and changed it after 5000 klms. THIS "TOTAL" BRAND OIL IS ALWAYS THE EASIEST TO FIND THROUGH-OUT CHINA! I THINK ITS BETTER TO BUY THE "TOTAL" BRAND CAUSE IT WOULD HAVE SAVED ME MANY HOURS OF LOOKING FOR THE OTHER AMERICAN TYPE OILS... i also found twice castrol 10/40 oil AT 45-50 YUAN EACH.
- always cut off the label from these good brands of oil so you can show it to parts stores the next time you need to FIND oil. as always communication is difficult, especially cause parts names in english don't translate!
- i Only had 2 problems with my bike. one was that the speedometer cable broke twice. Then i got a suzuki cable. Cost me 25 yuan installed. ($3.50 u.s.) and never broke again. then at about 20,000 kms. i replaced one rear wheel bearing! They start to emit a high pitch squeel, sporadic at 1st, then it gets louder and a more constant squeel. 1/2 hour labour, new bearing, and 10 yuan. another $1.50 u.s. !
- The best with this size of bike, is that all things last so much longer on this light little bike. Mechanic said i should get 27,000 kms on chain(non o-ring chain) and sprockets. well, i never did replace these even after 24,000 kms. but i did buy a few cans of spray oil and sprayed the chain every 500 kms. the front sprocket teeth were getting thin though!
- that bike was great. try not to believe the stories of low quality chinese bikes anymore. i would buy one again , no problem. and the bike is small , cheap on gas. And easy- light to pick up i was getting between 70 and 100 miles per gallon! and could still get up to 60 mph. And keep it there all day on flat rds. and 70kms/hour was the average speed limit on side highways anyways. the bike cost $707 u.s. and i sold it for 100. coulda got 200 easy. but didnt want the trouble or time to get more. it was sold to the first person i asked.! it surely paid for itself in savings on trains and buses!
- i replaced the spark plug at about 12,000 kms.
- and remember, even if your whole engine is ruined, you can buy a whole new engine for about $150 u.s. dollars!!!
- i never had any problems getting the few parts i needed. all the chinese bikes seem to have universal parts that are interchangable to all bikes.

10 MONTHLY COSTS in china:
$1,100 u.s. dollars per month. this was MY COSTS!!!.... remember, very few people ever travel as cheap as i do! i'll guess that MOST OTHER PEOPLE WILL NEED $1,300 TO $1500 U.S.D. ....... this is NOT INCLUDING the price of the motorbike and the necessary visa runs! COSTS include: gas (averaged 5.6 yuan per litre = $0.83 cents), REMEMBER I HAD A 125CC. THAT GOT 160 KMS PER GALLON/ 30-45 KMS PER LITRE......this number also includes, lodging and usually 2 meals a day in cheap restaurants 8 to 32 yuan per meal = $1 to $5 u.s. dollars. plus 1.5 litres bottled water daily and a few snacks. and several entrance fees for sights, parks museums, etc. the entrance fees for everything are the highest ive ever seen in my life! although some museums could be free or $5 us. .... some parks could be $37 u.s. dollars(2-3 day pass) at the highest end of the spectrum...... often with extra costs inside the park of 10 or more dollars) .......... things like temples, (tao,buddhist, confuscious) walled cities, mountain parks are in many provinces, trust your own judgement to decide whether its worth an extra $15.00 to $40 u.s. dollars or more, each time you want to see another one of these sights. because i had found some would not be much different than the last one i saw. this is especially so with temples, as a result i saved a good few hundred dollars or more?
i averaged about 5 days per month in hostel dormitories (40 to 60 chinese yuan)= $6 - $9 u.s. dollars.... and the rest in hotels or guesthouses (private room with private hot water bath/shower, t.v and air conditioning where needed) that ranged in price from 70 to 120 yuan($10 to $18u.s. = per nite. most of my hotels would compare to 3 and 4 star hotels in america.

11 VISA APPLICATION: at Hanoi, Vietnam embassy
- the application was 4 pages!, plus a list of all approximate dates and names of where i would be for my complete trip of 6 months. as that was the minimal time i felt i needed. on my list , i wrote down about 3 or 4 places in each province! and i think that is what you must do to aquire a "multiple entry visa" like i had? ORIGINALLY I WAS HOPING FOR A 6 MONTH , SINGLE ENTRY VISA. but when i asked at the information window she then told me canadians will usually get a 2 month multiple entry visa, for the life of my passport. !
- remember its 5 working days, not including weekends or holidays,, to process the application. and you need one hour and 2 taxi's, just to pay the visa fee at a bank 3 kilometers away. before they will accept your application.
- be sure to allow 6-8 working days (monday to friday) to get your visa . and be sure you have enough time on your vietnam visa to get the application and visa!
- NEVER MENTION THAT you WILL BE BUYING A MOTORCYCLE! and never say you will be going to Qinghai province or to Xinjiang province and especially NOT TO TIBET! (xizang PROVINCE). lonely planet explains the same! it seems you can go where-ever you want, once you cross the border into china. but still not to tibet! only by special permit, etc.
- THIS COULD MAKE OR BREAK YOUR TRIP......the application requests proof of enough money for your trip. for this, they told me i could use a bank balance reciept , and same for my visa card. these i got from a bank atm. machine in Hanoi, Vietnam. for sure the reciepts must be dated within the last few days.! for my 6 month trip, i showed i had more than $2,000 u.s. per month? BUT AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASK "WHAT IS THE MINIMUM MONEY NECESSARY PER MONTH?" i never asked this!!! stupid me....
- they also wanted proof of travel medical insurance. and for this i just wrote the medical insurance number from the back of my drivers licence(in Canada only?. which was o.k. she said when i explained we have universal health care in canada. (i did not need to prove that i had extra travel insurance).
- once you get the application at the embassy, its best if you stay there and carefully review each question. make notes and go to the information window , the only one where they spoke english. carefully get all your questions resolved in detail before you leave. because i had to come back again just to ask questions. and most foreigners there were angry because they did not review the application and then they would just guess at what was needed. then the day they returned, it would be rejected and they would be sent away to fix the problems. i saw people get rejected twice because of incomplete applications or not enough proof of something. and each time your sent away, costs you another day , delaying you.
- luckily as a canadian, we are able to get visa's that last 2 months for each entry. for as many entries you want , for the life of your passport. so, this means you must leave the country before the end of your 1st 2 months and come back for another 2 months. a "visa run". then getting your entry stamp on the way back in. only one american said that he also got 2 months, multiple entry. but he applied in u.s.a. for that. but it seemed that everyone else i met, got only one month?. i personally wish now, that i should have gotten 10 months. and then i could have seen the whole country at a leasurely pace. but it wasnt possible cause my passport expired too soon they said. i will surely come back one or 2 more times to see the north east and north west provinces i missed.

for me i needed to make 2 of these . this is one larger expense and hassle on the trip. i used these also to have a break , away and off the motorbike. the easiest places to leave for me , were to hong kong, as its officially leaving the country and no visa necessary for me ( beijing to hong kong flight $240 u.s. return or 24 hour train about $170 u.s. return).
entering mongolia would have meant 4-5 more days driving then 2 to 5 more working days waiting for visa and all expenses. its the same if you are looking to russia, uzbekistan, tajikistan, etc. visas also are expensive and time consuming. easier also, of course you can also go to taiwan , japan or south korea etc. i dont know about costs , time , expenses for any of these. i think the only other easy option is to go to Laos, as ,most western nations get visa at border for $30-40 u.s.d. at airport or train/ bus to border.
each time i had to leave on a visa run, i allowed 2-4 days preparation time. flight tickets, i was able to get online with my visa card. then have them printed out. or you can just use the e-mail confirmation numbers etc. to show at airport. each time, before i left the country i searched for a youth hostel online (hostelworld or booking.com) that spoke english and that had parking on their property for my motorbike to be stored while i was gone. be warned, that several would say they had parking, but it was a lie or it was located at some other property that had extra costs involved. i found that if they rented bicycles that usually meant there was extra space for me to squeeze in my smaller 125 cc. motorbike for no money. and i stored my extra luggage at hostel also. this was SAGA youth hostel in Beijing. the second was in CHENGDU, SICHUAN province. and the hostel was CLOUD ATLAS. here there was also no charge for storing my bike for 2 months. i went for 2 months as there were issues at home to be dealt with, and rainy season was not quite over yet where i was going. so it was beneficial , and again to have a break from travelling . i disconnected my battery before leaving it in the bicycle parking area which also had a security camera.
- otherwise im sure you could store bikes at hotels that have parking. almost always with security cameras. the only negative here is that rarely does anyone at hotels or guesthouses speak english. which is very important because there are many details to communicate, about storing bike and luggage, then airport or train information and how or where to get to these places, etc.

13 LANGUAGE PROBLEMS: look under "travel essentials" for more details of android app's, etc.
- you will be meeting with many great and curious people! actually i think it became sometimes the funniest times i had there with the translator mis-translating things.............just relax, and allow time for it each day !
- It is highly advisable to learn some chinese. "Pinyin" is also important. it uses english letters to help you pronounce all chinese words. this is in all travel books. but a short course might be better ?
- I used my "baidu translate" app for one half hour to 2 hours per day. much of that was casual conversations each day. combined with g.p.s and other stuff, i used about 1-2 gig data per month. and i was using wifi as much as possible in hotels. but i never watched any video's. you sometimes have to plan your next day on your g.p.s. as well at hotel..
- when using a translator app......use no slang and speak slowly and clearly, and tell same to the chinese person your talking with, otherwise you'll be pulling your hair out with the bizarre words that will come out on your app. and the same will happen when you have a weak data connection. i had many successful conversations with locals who never met a foreigner before. actually hundreds of towns that never saw foreigners before. also in smaller poorer communities where many people cant read. so your translator must be on voice setting. but even then, the city may not be chinese speaking, but mongolian or tibetan or arab, etc.
- NEVER THROW AWAY THE THINGS YOU NEED TO RE- PURCHASE, AS IT is far easier to just show people what you need.
- - as always, i made a strong effort to learn the chinese language. although it was the most difficult to learn in all my travels. i never made any attempt to learn any chinese characters (there are thousands). i had big trouble trying to say a vowel that would change its tone as you were speaking it. i found i had to learn the "pinyin" script as it was using the standard 26 letters as in many latin based languages today. your "baidu translator" will always write the pinyin , as well as the chinese characters, every time you use the writing or direct speech function in the app. pinyin can be read by almost all chinese speakers. so it will also help to write out, in pinyin, all the most important words or phrases you will need daily. then you can just point to show the phrase and they can read the pinyin. for me, i would write the english words i needed. then beside it i wrote the pinyin translation. then beside that, i also would write , in my own way, how i was to pronounce that pinyin word. by the end of the trip i had learned about 70 words. the ones that i needed most every day. but it was always dis-heartening when it was still not understood. the pronunciation and sometimes words would change as i moved around the country as well. funny though, i never was able to understand anything they ever said, except where are you from? the question you are asked many times a day.
- communicate also using hands feet and facial expressions! .
- you will find that all place names and cities written in english on street signs ,etc have no pronunciation symbols. this makes it impossible to pronounce correctly. no-one could understand me! like when asking for directions or talking about a place....."pleco translator" would pronounce city names by voice correctly if you just type in the letters of cities. and i think pleco will write it with proper pronunciation symbols in "pinyin"
-they will often give you prices, when buying anything, using hand and finger symbols, but no, they are not like western nations finger numbers!. it would be good to learn the 1 through 10 symbols. daily you will need them!

14 GUIDE BOOKS and HIGHWAYS: (see also more details in essentials for travel)
i bought the "lonely planet 2013 china". then lost it and then got 2014 rough guide china on my smart phone. rough guide has more focus for off beaten path villages, regions, etc. but then would not have all sights that lonely planet had? neither of these books had any info on motorcycle riding in china at all!
- -HIGHWAYS........ON ALL MAPS! AND G.P.S. and highway signs...a few foreign maps may not have the color designations
- SPEED LIMITS in small towns 30 to 40 kms/hour and cities usually 40 kms. /hour. on highways its mostly 70 kms/hour. 4 lane highways is 80 kms/ hour. super freeways=100kms.
- RED labelled/numbered roads are best for bikes. (although green highways can be scenic too) red are "national roads" going through many different provinces. these were the best roads before china started building, what i call the super-freeways. these roads always start with the letter 'G' followed by three digits.... eg: G312 , G108.
- some red roads are or will change into 4 lane highways with toll booths but can still be used by motorcycles for free. if these have toll booths, you must always go to far right side and there will be a thinner walkway for motorbikes to pass thru. sometimes they may be too small for large touring bikes with side cases! if so then you may have to pay or go thru the gates?
- GREEN "provincial roads" may connect to other provinces, but the numbers may change once you cross the border. and the condition of road may drastically change in western and southwestern provinces!. they are always labelled green on maps and road signs and start with an 'S' which are usually followed by 3 digits , starting with a '2'...eg: S204 , S226 .. in eastern china these green roads were usually in very good shape and were often the most scenic and least amount of traffic.
- the majority of road signs that show directions to towns or cities have the names also in english, thank god. but not all.
- MINOR ROADS.."county roads". are just black lettering usually starting with an 'X' and 3 digits, eg: X076 , or X014. in most cases avoid these , they are often gravel. or dead ends.
- IMPORTANT... twice i had to turn around and wasted several hours. because i was ignoring important street signs, that were written in chinese characters, big ones, warning of construction ahead, or no thru rd.! . the 2 times i did not read them, they told of how 10 , or 30 kms ahead that the road was closed !! if you suspect any of these signs. stop and get out the " baidu translator" and use the function where you can take a picture of a sign or other types of writing. take a picture of sign and make sure you understand the translation!!
- "MILESTONES" are on almost all secondary highways, RED and GREEN, and some x type county roads. these are cement blocks standing at the edge of roads, on either one side or other . they are about 1 foot wide by 1.5 feet tall. at the top it will have the highway number and below that will be a kilometer number. often they are every kilometer or 2, but there are none in towns or cities. sometimes milestones will be on "x" designated "county roads". NOTE.....milestones are a great way to double check that your on the right highway.!!
- SUPER FREEWAYS...freeways are always toll, pay highways. THESE ALSO NEVER ALLOW MOTORCYCLES. THERE MAY BE SOME EXCEPTIONS IN MORE REMOTE AREAS OF CHINA. signs are green with thin red line across the top. they most commonly start with the letter G or S and have from 2 to 4 number digits.. ( they often have huge bridges (200-500 meters high and 300mts. to 1 kilometer long) or there are hundreds kilometer long suspended highways above valley or desert floors upon pedestals that are sometimes 30-100 meters high............THESE CAN MAKE FOR GREAT PHOTO STOPS! and are far better than almost every highway in my country of Canada!!
- these freeways most often will have their entrances/exits off red national roads. or they can be the ring roads in cities and will start out of cities or begin on the ring roads. sadly motorcycles cannot use these ring roads or freeways to enter or exit big cities. this causes you to need up to 1 or 2 hours longer travel time when the city is 10 or 20 million population.!!!! as a result i avoided many big cities on my trip!! but sometimes there is no easy way around these cities. this is where the g.p.s. is "golden"
- in many cities some 4 lane roads will just end! or end at a 'T' junction. i usually would just follow the way locals turn, and immediately get out the gps "baidu map" app. which had the most up to date info! and be able to find my way to where my highway continues.

15 MAPS:
- i bought an "international travel map" of china before i left canada AT A TRAVEL BOOKSTORE. it was about 2.5 feet by 3 feet (60 by 75 centimeters). it had elevation colours, which made it great for finding winding mountain roads! which were never in guide books. it was good as a rough , broad view , guide with place names all in english. on this map i marked all the highlights/sights that i wanted to see in china.. but it was dated: 2009.......horribly outdated. CHECK DATE ON YOUR MAP BEFORE BUYING!!! my old map only showed only about 20 sections of super highway (freeways) only in the east of china and in central china. in reality there are about 200 now and possibly 20 more are built each year. the same for minor roads. and it was the largest i could find, but still was difficult to read and see the highway numbers, if any.
- with an elevation map, you can always just find the mountains and go your own way, for true adventure! thats what i had to do!
- FREEWAYS ARE USELESS FOR MOTORCYCLES, as officially, no motorbikes are as yet allowed on any freeways. i only saw maybe 5 bikes on them . but they were big harley davidson's or big touring or sport bikes owned buy wealthy chinese. (who could talk or bribe their way onto the freeways, i'm guessing).
- motorcycle travel is growing quickly in china and hopefully these laws will be changed in a couple of years? likely IN FUTURE, they will only allow larger bikes of minimum 250 cc. as the speed limit is 100 kilometers an hour on freeways. but the benefits will be huge as you will arrive several hours sooner and hundreds of kilometers less. i once figured it was 400 kilometers to my destination by freeway/ but when i took the national hiway it was 700 kms. and 5 days(in guangxi and hunan provinces).............sadly these super- freeways will be boring, straighter roads and many have dozens of long tunnels in mountainous areas.
- after arrival in china I BOUGHT LOCAL MADE, UP TO DATE CHINESE MAPS . $1.50 u.s. each!! these are only available in chinese or chinese and english bookstores in cities of 50,,000 or more population. i had to either ask at hostels or using translator ask local people as to where they were. sometimes they were on the maps.me app. , but most often in travel guide book maps! at the bookstore though, there were many maps to choose from. you need highway maps. the best i found were the book-type (size 8.5 by 11 inch / 20 by 30 centimeters) check dates! these book maps were good because they are labelled with the province name on the front, but inside there are several more maps of all the other provinces that touch or share a border with the province labelled on front. so then you do not need to buy many map books. of course the provinces with shared borders will be smaller maps, but they were still far more detailed than the map i brought from home. so for example, the inner mongolia map had 8 other provinces within the same book! now, in the more remote western provinces, you may not find a bookmap. eg: xinjiang, qinghai, tibet(xizang), and sichuan, yunnan, guizho. so then you may have to buy a folded map for each of the provinces you need, also $1.50. but these were usually a few years old and never showed highway numbers for green hiways or smaller.......and whenever i got on the green roads that were shown on the map, they were sometimes in far worse condition often than the average provincial highway, and one time the green road was a track or gravel over a 4,200 meter pass with ten river crossings. literally, i had to go through 7 rivers of .5 to one foot deep(15 to 30 centimeters) and this shortcut was 3/4 of the length, gravel road.. this was to be a shortcut, but actually cost me an extra day driving. for a one handed guy on a street bike............not easy!
- benefits of baidu maps APP! and maps.me APP.........I liked the maps.me app because it is fairly simple to use, and there is very little clutter of extra stuff on the screen, especially in cities. the baidu map app. has the most up to date maps so you can get around new construction or dead-end roads in cities. and for finding cheap good quality hotels.

- of course , when planning, rain and cold are problems ! please check each specific province you plan to travel to.
- i had analized monthly weather/ rain averages for each province that i planned to visit on the internet. and planned my trip accordingly.
- generally, the most rainy months in central , south and eastern china are from mid april to late september.
- all china, in general, has the most rain during july and august.
- except only 20 to 60 millimeters of rain fall on average per month, all year, in these provinces: Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai, and Xinjiang . but also these same provinces get very cold in winter months, 0 celcius to minus 40 or worse depending on elevation! winter is from mid - october november, december, january, february, march,.! From mid april to mid october is the best time to be riding in these provinces.

there is a short CAR drivers course in beijing, to get before renting a car in beijing, i saw an add for this in my hostel in Beijing! so maybe they have a motorbike course and rental also?
.........THEY DRIVE ON RIGHT HAND SIDE OF ROAD........for me , i learned to drive slower in cities, otherwise you'll just get angry at the chaos, and may well have a serious accident! which could be hell anywhere in china, without licence, insurance or registration!
if you have ever driven in vietnam cities, consider yourself 95% qualified. even if you've driven in any 3rd world country your better off. no matter what read further!!!
SPEED-TRAP CAMERAS...... you usually must go below the speed limit by a few kms/hour so as to not get your picture taken. they usually dont measure your speed until you are 10 or 20 meters before the camera, every one slows just before the cameras! but never worry , after 4,000 pictures no one ever found me to give me a ticket for my whole trip!
- FIRST RULE.... Biggest danger!! ANYONE TURNING RIGHT HAS THE RIGHT -OF-WAY !!! YES, even if its a bicycle or motorbike cutting in front of a semi tractor trailer whos going 90 kms an hour on a highway!. ive seen full 18 wheel trucks having to squeel to a stop because a moto-scooter turned "right" in front of them, out of a side road!! and the driver did not even get upset!!! And trucks, cars, motorcycles or cyclists dont even stop or look before they make a right turn in front of anyone!!!!. some will even swing into the middle of your lane!! . This is also why most people on all roads keep far away from the right side of rd. Where these idiots turn right in front of traffic. You yourself will get so pissed off as drivers expect you to let them cut you off in the lane without looking!! JUST USE YOUR HORN, ITS YOUR ONLY PROTECTION. And then they give me a confused look when i yell and scream at them! this can happen anywhere!!!
- 2ND BIG RULE..... always the biggest vehicle has right of way in all situations!! HERES THE ORDER...18 wheel double trailer, 18 wheel single trailer, buses, all trucks larger than a pick-up truck, pick-up truck, passenger cars, 3 wheel motorvehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and finally pedestrians and carefull always for children and even toddlers!
- 3rd big rule.....pedestrians will often just start walking into traffic, sometimes without looking. but they are usually walking slow and will not change their pace . this slow pace gives you time to decide whether you will pass in front of them or behind them
- EXTRA SAFETY.....put A CAR SIZED HORN on your motorbike to give the impression you are a bigger vehicle. most locals on big bikes do this. many drivers will often ignore little motorbike horns and not realize that you are coming so fast. USE HEADLIGHTS ALL DAY AND NIGHT BECAUSE NO ONE is used to a motorbike travelling faster than 40 kilometers per hour. especially on high ways!
-GOING WRONG WAY AGAINST TRAFFIC. most commonly this is in cities...and the rule is that they will be closest to the sidewalk! but in many other situations they could be anywhere, even on passing lane of highways. most often this is motorcycles, but be prepared for anything.......................
-stopping for no reason anywhere.....REASON?.....they are lost, they dont know which way to turn, have a phone call, dropping off or picking up a passenger, ordering food, anything!!
- i never drove after dark unless absolutely necessary, cause of road hazards, holes, animals etc.
-going 5 kilometers per hour anywhere!....reason?...they are on their cell phone.
-Often ive stopped to let a pedestrian cross street in front of me. And they will stop as well and wonder why i stopped. Then they'll still wait for me to go 1st!!!!!!
-u-turns!..........ANYWHERE, ANYTIME !!!
- as in any developing country , there can be animals on roads, cows , camels, oxen, goats ,sheep ANYWHERE!! AND IN CHINA there are every type of vehicle known to man from ox-carts to 2016 range rovers.!

- in general 90% of roads are as good as or better than in vietnam. at worse, there can be 1 foot (30 centimeter) deep potholes (even on some perfect roads) or there are thousands of these potholes in mud and rain for 20 kilometers on some of the main highways!
- road construction/ improvements can continue for 5 to 70 kilometers. but most of the worse roads will usually be in Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan. in the jungle and mountain areas. there can often be landslides blocking roads for days during rainy season. once i needed 2 days to get around one landslide! BAIDU MAPS APP will most often have road construction labeled on their gps maps! BUT ONLY when you zoom in to the 1 kilometer or less scale. which can be a major headache when i NEEDED go over my 200 kms. driving day the night before.
- in Guangxi province some of the "red" international highways were gravel in sections, had huge potholes all filled with water in the rain and slimy mud. 5 to 10 kms per hour was top speed possible for me.
- a few times in Yunnan province the "red" highways i drove on were super slippery because it was completely covered with a layer of slimy wet clay for about 15 kilometers!!
- I SLID/FELL ONCE. on a super smooth shiny concrete road on a hairpin corner!! IMPORTANT NOTE: i warn you , always be cautious on concrete when it starts to look like it reflects the light or becomes smooth almost like glass or similar to black ice.!! this is when the road has been used by thousands of trucks and cars for years!. then it begins to polish the concrete! where i crashed, i went back to the exact spot where my front wheel slipped, and i test ran a few feet /meters and was able to slide 5 to 7 feet(1.5 to 2 meters) while wearing my rubber soled shoes!!! i slid into the oncoming lane and only by luck there was no one coming on the other side of the road! and lucky i had no injuries, just bruised where my elbow contacted the road. i was leaning pretty far over and did not have far to land, but slid about 15 feet (5 meters).

- in general, chinese people can be very hospitable . a few times my meals would be bought for me, even if i never even talked with them. i would only discover this a few times because when i tried to pay they said someone already paid. or you may, in a restaurant, be invited to a group to have dinner with them. or they will buy you a drink of their rice liquor, etc. and could be very fun. i always had to remember to bring my translator everywhere with me to be able to meet good and interesting people.
- and they are helpfull when you ask. mostly in remote places you will just get super curious people who will stare, or take pictures or video of you while eating at a restaurant!. Selfies in the streets are common, so they can show their freinds the foreigner they met. you'll get used to the attention!
- when meeting locals they often will want your "wechat" info (the facebook of china) or they want your phone number, or they want your "qq.com" adress (china's email system) . but remember that you will not understand them in chinese if you take up their offer.....unless you know of any text translator apps? this is difficult to get them to understand, and they will be offended if you do not trade information with them. the only way to not give offence is to get their info and tell them you will contact them. no matter what, it could get uncomfortable, as they will wonder why you dont give your info. to them. I OFTEN ONLY GOT THEIR QQ.COM NUMBER . and said i only have data on my phone, which was true. most chinese did say that "wechat" has a translator built in? i did have contact with several and i used my translator on the picture mode of "reading text".
- another important cultural note when in the more remote west of china , is that they are sometimes very "in your personal space", meaning , they dont show what we know as "western respect" like , "dont touch my stuff" . For example: 3 older men came up to me all excitedly talking , one came right in front of me and pulled open my shirt , without warning, to look at all the hair on my chest! something they had never seen before! then they would all laugh! or teenagers may mumble some mocking of english and laugh. or coming into your hotel with a bag of food, the staff will stare and try to figure out what you bought in your bag, or actually grab the bag and look inside it!!!. or they picked up my phone once , without asking, to inspect it to see what kind it was, then began to take off the special "otter case" cover i had on the phone. one teenager , after 10 minutes talking and looking at my bike, just got on it. then turned the keys, starting it and drove it in a circle because he wanted to see if he could drive the bike with the modifications i have for driving with one hand.! then he tapped on the bulge under my pants, NOT MY PRIVATES, but it was my hidden money belt! and then he asked what it was. now, to be honest, all these things happened in very remote areas of china , where they all , for sure had never seen a foreigner in their lives before. in inner mongolia, western gansu, and qinghai provinces. i believe it was just intense curiosity, just acting like a young child, to figure out who and what this strange character was all about. and i never had fear, in most of these cases, that it was anything more than childish curiosity. except when he drove my motorbike away!!!!!
- now it is important for you to know that TIBET (Xizang) , after it was taken by china, was divided up into 4 different provinces. 1st is xizang where llhasa is the capital, and the only province that you cannot enter, unless you pay lots for a permit and a tour. 2nd is Qinghai province, all the south half of this province was old tibet. this includes all the high plateax areas and parts of the lowland deserts. 3rd is all the western half of sichuan, i think from where the mountains start in the west to the border of xizang is old Tibet. and 4th is the north western corner of Yunnan province. so ideally this is all old tibet, where you will see remote awesome buddhist monastery locations by the dozens, spectacular mountains up to 6,000 meters or more! and grassland plateax's up to 4,400 meters. most of the people here are tibetans speaking dialects of tibetan. and you sadly will find it impossible almost to speak with them. and here, they will greet you often with, " hi "! the odd monk knows english. many businesses and hotels will understand chinese. sadly as well , i never was able to find tibetan language translators? and the only tibetan one can find is "llhasa tibetan" which many won't understand either. i learned- hello goodbye , please and thank you, and numbers. which all were appreciated.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: the big shock, will be that you will find out that a few of the younger chinese that i met in china do not know that tibet was once a seperate country and that china took control of it in the 50's?? and several do not realize that many foreigners are not allowed into the province of Xizang/tibet. be careful when talking with the chinese people about tibet, because it stirs up some trouble in their minds, because they wont believe you when you tell them that, china invaded and took control of tibet. likely they may not know the reality. and their parents learned never to tell their children about the bad history of china, cause it was surely, severely punished in the past when people did talk about it. many that are under 30 years, have never known anything other than what the government or education has told them.!!?? be very careful about this , as it could still be punishable for any chinese to spread negative rumours about their government !!!

in general, i would say that china is one of the safer countries ive been to. people are very obedient, maybe cause not long ago there were a lot of "GOVERNMENT - watchers " most everywhere. this is a result of its communist past? i had often, at least 30 times, walked away from my motorbike to check out a hotel, store, bank machine for up to 10 minutes. and when i came back to the bike , that was parked on roadside or on sidewalk, to find that i either left my keys in ignition, smartphone mounted on handlebar, and always my whole backpack just bungeed to the bike. and never had i lost anything or had anything stolen from motorbike or in my locked hotels or hostel dorm rooms! but naturally, dont take any syupid chances based on my luck!
- 2 bike locks, one disc brake, and one chain lock, or use steering lock
- SCAMS ...WARNING , LOCAL women in big cities (BEIJING) will speak to you, (only men) in english for up to half an hour , then lure you to " their" favourite bar, Cafe, restaurant , but never to where you suggest, and come time to pay, the bill will be 50 times the normal price. And 2 big bouncer guys forcing you to pay the 300 yuan bill!!! 3 seperate girls approached me in the Beijing walking zone within one hour. And i saw about 5 more hustling older guys within a 10 minute walk. For me, a girl (average looking) approached me and was very kind to show me where the government "china mobile" store was . then insisted that she would come with me to help me translate! after about 20 minutes we finished getting my S.I.M. card and i offered to buy a coffee for her as a type of kind gesture for her help . she said no, but would then suggest that she knew a better place, over and down some side road. this was when i was sure that it was the type of scam i had read !!! Its written in all travel books and hostels....this scam! and ive heard that there are "pick-pockets" in the larger cities in public busy areas!


Last edited by single-handed; 13 Jan 2017 at 09:39.
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Old 10 Jan 2017
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CHINA 2016 "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc PART 3

- I always started to look at least one hour before dark, you'll see why when you read further!
- the only time you may have trouble finding accomodation at popular hotels or hostels is during the NATIONAL HOLIDAYS . one is in the 1st week of october and the other is april 5th to 8th, and june 1st and end of september's "moon festival", end of april and first few days of may. check guide books! FOR ME, i never had trouble anywhere, finding a room during holidays. especially if you dont stay at the most popular places. in either small towns or big cities.!
- china has its own chain of international youth hostels in every place or city with big tourist sights, or famous parks etc. online (booking.com and hostelworld.com) they are usually designated "international youth hostel" in the title. these are usually having the same standards as other international hostelling association type hostels. - the chinese international hostels, have a guide book for free, that has a list of all hostels throughout china, about 150 all together. with phone and adresses. and almost all of these accept foreigners. they also have dormitories, private rooms, restaurants and bar in many cases . dormitories= $5 u.s. to $7.00..... privates starting at about $16 u.s. ...... but i always could find hotels for less money ( $10 to $12.oo u.s.) that were far better, bigger with private bath and t.v. and parking. that were often a few blocks from hostels. then i would go eat dinner or have drinks at these hostels so as to meet other travellers, to get my fix of speaking with someone after long spells of only communicating with chinese, etc.
- either way, there are also thousands of private hostels all over china in all major cities.
- NOTE: after you read the hotels section of your travel guide, you will know, that in a few provinces some hotels will not accept foreigners. but dont panic! each time you enter a hotel go in smiling and be positive, just like with the police, and be very patient. i know, its at the end of a long day.! but its better than going in worried that you might not get the room. as i have learned this after about 160 hotels experience. after being rejected by a hotel in a town , i would go in hotels asking " do you accept foreigners" as my first question!. and this was always a problem. cause they would then start phoning the manager or the police to be sure. and thats after you try to get them to understand your question, that can take 10 minutes. ive learned to always check the price first, then look at the room 2nd. and the less police around the better i always felt. often it may be simply because they dont want the extra hassle than their usual customers.
- THE REASON FOR BEING TURNED AWAY FROM HOTELS......... I never knew 100 % why, corruption, government safety, bla bla bla. no matter, its about learning to recognize when you have to leave town!! most often if a hotel denies you with a friendly smile, you must try to ask which hotel will accept foreigners. and get them to point out exactly where it is on a map and how to pronounce its name. if they cant do that, it just means they could be just lie- ing you! this happened to me a couple of times! try again at the second hotel the second hotel that denies you, then just leave town, otherwise you could waste a few hours , because they will continue to smile kindly and send you away to 10 different hotels, anywhere to get rid of you. now if you do get proper directions then you will always find , the hotel will be usually about 200 yuan $30.00 u.s. but often this will include a chinese style breakfast, buffet style? if 200 is over your budget then get out of town. usually the next town will have no such bullshit... about 4 times in total i decided to stay at the expensive hotel, because i was too tired to drive further. the provinces this happened to me was, most often in hebei , the province that surrounds beijing and tianjin cities. least often were Gansu province and Geermu city in qinghai province
- I NEVER EVER RESERVED A HOTEL, anywhere in china! most towns above 10,000 people had a hotel. i never reserved because there are many variables in china. like, while biking, road problems/delays or getting tired earlier than planned. and never did i end up without a hotel.! i always started looking for hotels at least an hour before dark. and if a whole town denies you a hotel, i then would always drive to next town and find something. the smaller the town the more likely they will not care about who or where your from , and wont even ask for your passport .
- ONLY TWICE WAS I ASKED TO LEAVE A HOTEL AFTER CHICKING IN.. usually this is by order of the police, when the hotel tried to register you. or by the owner or manager. but no worries, calmly pack up and just go to the next small town or city. for me, i was never more than 20 minutes from the next town.
THE BEST METHOD is to "first" ask how much for one night one person, so thats out of the way. if you start any other way, you risk wasting half an hour, to then find that the hotel is too expensive and you must go to another hotel anyways! i always asked them to see the room second, then i tried to bargain my favorite price of 80 yuan? by this time they are more comfortable with you. if needed, get their wifi and start your translator up! as soon as possible at the reception desk ! it will all be easier once you've done your 1st, 5 hotels! and you can always bargain down at almost every hotel! up to 50 % less than their posted price, especially in off season! ! then the second thing i would say is "i am Canadian" (wo jianadada, in chinese for me) and show them my passport. then show the 2 pages they need. the page with your picture, then the page of your chinese visa that includes your entry and exit stamps. also take time to indicate that the chinese writing on your visa is where they can get the information that they need. then demonstrate to them to take pictures of those two pages with their cell phone , including the entry/ exit stamps. show them confidently with a smile that its very easy! that most hotels do this, then they can email the pictures to the police.! then the police have to do the translation and paperwork.!!!!
- AT EVERY HOTEL , you may have to help them realize that your chinese visa stamp and sticker page has all things they need to know on it . which are written in VERY SMALL CHINESE CHARACTERS. things like your birthday (chinese do not know names of months. months are known by their numbers, january =1, december = 12), when and where you entered ( on the stamp at last border entry), your passport number, your full name, your country, male, etc. this can take 5 minutes or 20 min. depending on weather they have ever done this before. i found it was easiest again, to tell them that all hotels usually take 2 pictures, and send them to police!. i would take my phone and demonstrate the 2 pictures they needed also making the clicking sound of a picture! then i would use a hand gesture that they send these pictures to the "police". and let them deal with the information needed.
- THE BEST WAY I FOUND HOTELS was using the "maps.baidu.cn" map app for android. when i arrived at or even the night before arriving in a town or city, i would look at the baidu app. of that city (of course with data or wifi on and gps on) and it starts to show hotels at about the 1 km. or 500 meters scale. then you could tap on the hotel and below in a few seconds the name of hotel and THE LOWEST PRICE for a single room would show! but at 500 meters were often the most expensive hotels, and as you zoom closer more hotels will show up on the map, but the hotels would get cheaper.! finally at 50 meters scale size , were the cheapest hotels! but be warned, anything under 70 yuan can usually be a low end hotel or a private room in a house, or the odd time, it could be a hostel. or often something may not be working in the room.
- the SECOND BEST FAST FIND, is to drive slowly and look inside the front windows of buildings and you will learn to recognize what the average hotel lobby looks like. it usually has a longer desk or counter top at back or side and almost always should have a few chairs or couches near the counter. the bigger the reception area and the nicer the furniture, the more expensive the hotel is!! careful though, i often found many restaurants can have a similar entrance area.!
- OTHER WAYS TO FIND hotels /guesthouses, (ju dian / binguan) is to wait til its getting dark and hotels always have mostly neon signs or a few have ticker type messages scrolling by, from side to side.
- another way to find hotels for me , was to learn the 2 chinese characters for guesthouse (binguan) and hotel (ju dian). once you have those 2 characters for either, then you must look for them on signs, and they will always be THE LAST 2 CHARACTERS on the sign! . now careful, the last character of each is also used in signs for restaurants. once it took me 10 min. to figure out why they would not give me a price or show me a room? cause i did not notice that it was a restaurant.............. haha on me.!
- TENT , SLEEPING BAG AND AIR MATTRESS. (which i never needed to use in all of china). several people online or elsewhere said i should prepare for not getting into a hotel because not all hotels are allowed to accept foreigners. FOR ME, IF after 3 to 5 hotels, all said "we do not take foreigners" i would go to the next town and try hotel/ guest houses there.. sometimes it was 5 minutes away, sometimes it was 1/2 hour away.

- i went most often to restaurants that had pictures of meals with prices. but dont ever expect it to look like the picture!
- i often would look at a menu and just order whatever had the price i wanted to pay and wait for the suprise to come out of the kitchen!
- the best is to get your baidu translator app and use their restaurant menu setting, and take a picture of the menu, then it will translate the menu and prices, but be prepared for some damn strange names of the dishes!
- often i would browse around to see what others were eating , inside the restaurant, then show the waitress which plate/plates i wanted.

THERE WERE NO POLICE OR CONTROLS WHEN I ENTERED AND EXITED THE PROVINCE OF QINGHAI. when i was in Geermu (golmud) city in Qinghai, province, my book said i could apply for tibetan permit there. the official there said, "its very difficult to get permission and i would have a better chance in Chengdu, Sichuan province. he said this in such a tone of voice that seemed as if he had told the same story to 100 people already. i asked if it was better to go to a travel agent? he said " no, go to Chengdu, sichuan where you will have a better chance!" so, i never did bother with Tibet(xizang). i heard it was always easier with a travel agent?
so, i still was going to ride around in Qinghai province where no permit was needed. and it was well worth it , especially in the south east corner near Yushu city. when i was nearing TIBET on the highway, about 40 - 60 kms. south of geermu city, there was a police checkpoint. and for 10 minutes, i was questioned if i was going to tibet, he did not believe me until i pulled out my map to show him my pre-marked route. and assured him that i knew i was not allowed in tibet (Xizang) without a permit.! and did not want to put into danger, the rest of my 3 month trip, by trying to enter tibet. then he made me promise him i was not going to tibet. and finally let me pass. i never did try to go to tibet!
i was told by several travellers that the provincial borders of xizang(tibet) were carefully controlled. and that there were several more permit checks in various areas within tibet province and likely in cities and hotels as well.
i met one tibet guide, who spoke good english, he told me he charged $1,200 u.s. for a nine day trip including hotels some food and including permits. that was the cheapest i heard of. but, he would get the permits, included. also 1 to2 weeks waiting till permit is approved. and its not gauranteed to get a permit! which surely you will be charged for! you must stay 24 hrs a day with your guides! ...


this very challenging country has put me on my knees in the first weeks, with the difficulties of language. travel hasn't been this difficult since I 1st arrived in Arabic countries!!! 29 years ago! I cant read , understand or speak more than 60 words now!! If I was on buses and trains I'd have more time to learn the language.

the only ones who speak English are at some of the youth hostel receptions. which I often only find once every few weeks. the hotels don't speak English yet where ive stayed! o.k maybe 3 or 4 called for an English speaker to help. i had to pay one girl at a hostel to translate for 4 hours just to buy a motorbike. I could never make myself understood! now they understand about 20-30 of my words. but then every province will have different pronunciation. I had to get a phone with translator and 2 mapping apps. one English, one Chinese. I still have trouble ordereing every meal. rarely is English in restaurants. rarely are pictures of food at restaurants. and none where I ride off the beaten track. often I just point to an item on the menu based on price , and see what comes from the kitchen....... but then theres all the good scenery and being stared at everywhere. for sure im the first tourist ever in many of these places.

so I got a bike, travel was slow, I was always behind my planned schedule in the first 6 weeks. motorbikes cant go on these great superhiways, that they now have everywhere. its too dangerous for me they said. their freeways would put canada's to shame !!. so its the windy 2ndary roads for me. and they pass through villages every 2-5 kilometers at times. some sections had not been repaired for years with the deepest potholes ive ever seen . and then id have to ride them in mud and pouring rain. I have often had to pass hundreds of semi-trucks everyday! but it was only in a few locations in the south jungle areas that were bad. otherwise most of their roads are the best ive seen in south east asia. but often crowded with trucks trying to save on freeway tolls.

in the first weeks when I didn't have gps working yet, I was ready to quit! my first day out, I tried a back road that should have taken 1-2 hours to my destination. after 4 hours I was only half way and had to give up and turn around. 3 days later............. a shortcut on a small side road of 40 kilometers took me 4 hours! my map showed 2 intersections. but there were at least 12. all of them had no signs! I had to ask at every intersection with the 5 words I knew. I had repeated the same words 10 times to everyone I'd ask, and still none would understand. I just could never pronounce them right. every town/ city sounded nothing like it was written when using even English letters! since that time I have never again considered a small side road or any more short-cuts.

some spectacular sights and people already! thank god for "baidu maps", in Chinese, then "maps.me" app. that's in English. and g.p.s. between them I don't have to ask people where to go / how to get there anymore. as no-one ever understands my Chinese anyways. now I have the local translator app. "fanyi.baidu.cn" it works good on local sim cards, if you can get one? they will only sell them to people with chinese i.d. cards!! this translator was a free download. its easy to figure out in English. the 3 main features are actually written in English. and it will read text to you by camera shots, speak in English or Chinese and it comes out spoken and written in the opposite language . awesome! a bit slow, but still faster than me trying to speak. another big hassle is that there is no access to google here!!!! so google translate wont work. nothing related to google works! only Microsoft with bing search engine.................. unless you get a v.p.n.

I suffered huge by not fully preparing/ researching everything before arriving. but that's my way, just go in blind! I just could never have imagined what troubles I would have. usually the travel books give you all that info. but then , it seems no one has ever done what im doing.

after about 5-6 weeks I learned which roads would not have 100's of trucks. discovered many ways of not getting lost or missing turns.

over-all biking here is awesome, but its huge , BIGGER than u.s.a. with just as many good places and more! a huge long history goes back to 3-4,000 b.c. ive already seen seen much more and better scenery than in all west Canada.
endless amounts of winding mountainous roads. but cause of same , I cant get anywhere fast. they got hundreds of super freeways, but bikes aren't allowed on them??? you could spend 2 weeks on windy roads with spectacular views just 60-150 kilometers north of Beijing, passing 20 differing sections of the great wall. of 26 0dd provinces, there are mountain views in about 23 of them. in about 8 provinces there are only mountains........... a bikers dream. but never enough time.

had to cut out some of the places I wanted to see on my 1st 60 day visa. and hoped to exit to Mongolia and re-enter for another 60 days. but ended up flying cheap from Beijing to hong kong for a few days. for whats called a visa run! have to leave to renew the chinese visa every 2 months. with 3 entries of 60 days, over 6 months.

if your interested and have a map handy, ive passed through the provinces of guangxi, hunan, chonking, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, ziezhang, shanxi, hebei, shanxi again, then " inner Mongolia" through the gobi desert to Gansu, and now I'm just getting into Qinghai.........its just getting to 3 months now. i'll be about 2,000 kilometers in the gobi desert. totalling in 12,000 kilometers today and my 1st motorbike problem........a broken speedometer cable, oh and I replaced the front disc brake pads. and 2 blinker bulbs. all these items installed cost me 35 yuan = $5.50 u.s. dollars,

oh ........and the bike is a 125 cc. "fosti" bought new for $707 dollars, made in chonqing china. my kenda tires should last me for 15-20,000 kilometers, shocking but it must be because its the smallest and lightest bike ive ever owned. its a little screamer that revs up to 10,000 r.p.m. and built for top end horsepower. perfect for this trip as im avoiding off roading cause there aint time for it!

from here it'll be Sichuan, shaanxi, Yunnan and guizhou ..................? since 2 weeks before arriving in Beijing and heading west its been low stress, peaceful great winding, small roads with less traffic and I haven't seen rain while riding in 7 weeks. its key to plan any riding here with the complicated weather patterns in mind, throughout china. tom's totally in his "zone" now after those tumultuous 1st 2 weeks. and now I have no regrets on deciding for the "full china tour".

theres been historic ruins and artifacts spanning several thousand years, never seen before landscapes, dozens of various cultures, 4 different walled cities ive seen either completely rebuilt or all original dating from 200 to 800 years old. spectacular ceramics, bronze and jade artworks spanning back to 1 and 2,000 yrs before Christ.................... impressive modernization , hundreds of black audi's in Beijing alone! , freeways and bridges suspended up to 350 feet and even 400 meters, tunneling through literally hundreds of mountains. freeways / railways on concrete pedestals going on for 1 to 10 even 80 kilometers in many provinces , from jungles to deserts. highways 300 kilometers long being built, all at once, to be completed within a year! I have driven along the length of 2 of these. many cities that are building from 20 to 40 new apartment towers up to 30 stories high, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!! old walled cities being gutted, 30,000 inhabitants moved out into new apartment blocks while the whole old city and wall are rebuilt . some of the most impressive national parks ive ever seen! 2 kilometers of downtown city buildings on both sides of street being completely re-faced at the same time and pictures to prove this all !! all new infrastructure being built, not for today, but for up to 20 years into the future!
NOT AT ALL like my home town , that had built some highway that was obsolete the year after it was built. it needed 4 NEW lanes, NOT 2 !!

well that's it for now! good luck to my fellow moto travellers! it was all worth it for a true adventure in a country rarely traversed extensively by foreigners

Picture list
#1 my 125cc fosti
#2 5,200meters view of tibetan plateax behind zadoi, south east Qinghai
#3 entrance to tiger leaping gorge, Yunnan
#4 Hunan province. Lowest is train track circa 1960..middle tracks circa 1990's. Top is super highway 2000's that is about 300 feet high, the little bump in center is a big semi-truck.
#5 wild camels in desert 100 kms. North of geermu,Qinghai province
#6 mountain range with pine needles in fall colors. 100 kms north of shangri la on gravel rd. To Litang, sitchuan prov.
#7 Gongga shan mtn. 7,550meters 50 kms. South of kanding, city, Sichuan prov.
#8 basic map of my route in china. Starts near Nanning, Guangxi prov. Ends into laos. Follow fat black line with arrows. The highlighted yellow is scenic areas
#9 three gorges dam area near Fengjie, chongqing. Awesome roads all around this area with no traffic!
#10 old walled town i accidentally noticed after i stopped for rest. The great wall continues over hill on left.

Tried 3 times to get that map straight! And sorry, i dont know how to embed a map. And not handy at all with bloody apps etc etc. Id just rather be travelling!

So heres a quicklist of destinations on map so you all can connect the dots..
Started in -Guilin. Guangxi
- Fenghuang historic city, Hunan province
- Zhangjiajie, hunan
- Wushan/Fengjie, Chongqing prov. 3 gorges, yangtze river
- Wuhan city, Hubei prov.
- Huangshan city, Anhui prov.
- Nanjing, Jiangsu
- Qufu city , Shandong prov.
- Handan, Hebei prov.
- Pingyao walled city, Shanxi prov.
- Taishan, Shanxi prov.
- great wall, parks, north of Beijing
- Beijing
- Datong, Shanxi
- Hohhot, Inner mongolia
- Bayan obo, Inner mongolia
- Denkou, inner mongolia
- Badain Jaran desert, Inner mongolia
- Zhangye, Gansu prov.
- Dunhuang, Gansu prov.
- Geermu, Qinghai prov.
- Yushu, Qinghai prov.
- Xiahe monastery, Gansu prov.
- Songpan sightseeing area. Sichuan prov.
- Wenchuan, Sichuan prov. turn right to panda reserve
- left on highway #210 to Xiaojin town, Sichuan prov.
- Ya'an city, Sichuan prov.
- Leshan city, huge buddha, Sichuan prov.
- Chengdu, Sichuan prov.
- Xi'an city, Shaanxi prov., terra cotta soldiers
- Chongqing, Chongqing prov.
- west to Gongga Shan mountain, south west of Ya'an city, Sichuan
- west to Litang city ,sichuan
- south to Shangri la, Yunnan prov.
- Tiger leaping gorge, Yunnan prov.
- Dali, Yunnan prov.
- Kunming, Yunnan prov.
- Anshun, Guizhou prov.
- south to Leye town, guangxi, huge sink hole
- Kaiyuan, Yunnan prov.
- Mengman town, Yunnan at Laos border
Attached Thumbnails
CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-20161112_084514.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-img_0667.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-20161103_152346.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-china-may-1-14-2016  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-img_0313.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-20161030_120637.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-20161025_141922.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-20170105_123330.jpg  

CHINA 2016  "THE LAST GREAT FRONTIER" 6 MONTHS 24,000 KMS. on a chinese 125cc  PART 1-china-may-1-14-2016  

Attached Images

Last edited by single-handed; 13 Jan 2017 at 09:27. Reason: adding pictures
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Old 10 Jan 2017
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Truly an amazing trip with some great information.
But for me the most amazing part is you rode all this way in China which has some of the worst roads I have seen with one hand?
Truly Amazing.

Can't wait to read more.
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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" IMPORTANT NOTE: the big shock, will be that you will find out that all chinese, under 50 yrs. , old in china do not know that tibet was once a seperate country and that china took control of it in the 50's??"

That's wrong. Nearly everyone in China knows what happened with the big T they just don't want to know same goes with Tianan min square way back when.

Both are subjects you don't want to get into a discussion about. Unless you want to see some super friendly Chinese people turn super nasty real quick.

"in general, i would say that china is one of the safer countries ive been to'

In general it is safe but don't be lulled into a false sense of security. My apartment/unit was broken into twice before i got the security bars fitted on all windows and door. just like every one else. There's a reason for that.Pick pocketing in buses is rife in certain big cities and some smaller ones.

There was a small town were up until a few years ago the locals would ask for money to drive/ride through there town though I think it has stopped now.
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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china without a guide

Yes truly amazing story. Welcome to the Hubb and thank you for posting your story here, cant wait to see some pictures. And you rode single handed, wau!!!

I crossed China in 2015 on my own, read a bit about me getting the bike in/out here


Have to admit that riding in China was a challenge because of the traffic and I have ridden in some of the worst places (India, Egypt, Nigeria, Mexico DF ...) ... it was funny to read about this right turn rule that you mentioned, I did not know about such a rule. Anyway I survived 8000km in China, but not all chinese bikers that I saw managed to do this.

So, no more excuses, China can be done without a guide and even for six months.

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Old 11 Jan 2017
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WAS IT LEGAL for me to do this? ................ well, in north america, Its against the law to walk across a city street where there is no proper pedestrian crossing ! but it is a law that has not been enforced by police for several decades in my city. so i can guess , that its not really a serious law. so, under this comparison, i dont think i broke any laws in china!..
Yep you broke the law. No licence(international licences are not recognized in China)No rego, No insurance. Jay walking in your home country pails into insignificance compared to No rego, No insurance, No license.

But you'll see hundreds of cars and thousands of motorbikes driving without number plates!! . Cause who can wait months for plates with your brand new vehicle in driveway?
People with gaunxi. You don't have gaunxi. Your playing with fire.

is there accident insurance tied to that licence number? maybe, but i dont think so because there is no expiry date sticker on number plates
Yes you have to go and get insurance when registering your car and bike.

and i was never asked if i had any insurance papers at any of the 7 times that police stopped me
You will be asked for all your documents including insurance and passport if you have an accident even if the accident is not your fault. Don't have the correct legal docs ie license, rego and insurance and your about to be turned into a human ATM. No money no worries they will lock you up to you get some.

Rarely are bikes ever stopped by police. i drove past about 30 situations where police were checking other cars and trucks. but not motorbikes. motorbikes are the poorer people that cant afford bigger vehicles and are always driving so slow( probably to save on gasoline) i assume this is what the police are thinking.?
Yeah right. In China motorcycles are looked down on now only peasants ride them(apart from some uber rich who have meg bucks harleys, BMW, etc, etc) the chinese govt really want motorcycles off the roads hence most major cities don't allow motorcycles on the roads and highways. There checked all the time. I think you will find the police do roadside checks on certain vehicles at certain times and pretty much focused on that certain form of vehicle be it car, truck or motorcycle. I' ve seen plenty of times when they are clamping down on motorcycles a big police truck parked nearby and the police loading said truck up with unregistered motorcycles. The police were also in the side streets then.

- when ever you see police standing on the road it is mostly for safety checks for trucks
Yeah right????

i realized that most all of the minor police checks in all china, there was never police monitoring side roads to be sure nobody would try to avoid the road check by police. as this practise is done often in my country, usually for drinking/ driving road blocks.
News flash they do monitor side roads they're not stupid.Seen it plenty of times.

Believing the motorcycle salesman emmm. 10-15 years ago police were somewhat intimated by foreigners not now. In all my years and driving through China no police has ever illicited a bribe from me or any other Chinese I know. Done some other things but never cash. Doing what you suggest will end up in a whole world of grief.

i would think, that if you're ever asked "why dont you have a number plate" just tell them, "i cant get one because i am a tourist and do not live in china"
Yeah wouldn't be saying that. plead ignorance would be better than that or the person who sold me the bike said I didn't need one.

Hey hats off to you on your epic trip through China it can be done the way you and others have done but there are many cases of people getting caught out. I know some chinese in Gansu and Xinjiang riding around on some pretty exotic european bikes thanks to some Europeans trying to ride through China no license,no rego ,no insurance. I know some other westerners who had a whole world of grief getting into accidents riding in China no rego,no insurance no license and in most cases it was not them who caused the accident.
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re. china 2016

thanks "bigdamo" for your feedback! this is just the information i needed to know, of which i had no access to, before posting. your information is vital to know for every one to seriously consider! because of your good points , i will be editing or removing some parts of this story/guide to make some changes to reflect my updated knowledge.

It is much appreciated, for all your time and specific references that you have listed.
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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HI Tom
If you don't mind I would just like to add 1 point in your report which is not correct?

New Cars/bikes can be inspected and plated in 1 day.
As off today I have done 1 Car and 4 bikes in 2 different provinces in China, that is not to say somewhere in China you could have to wait longer?
My wife has just check online and you have 15 days grace for cars and bikes after you pick the car/bike up from the showroom to legal have to plate the car/bike.
Also when you plate the car/bike it's then you pay a 7% tax and inspection cost and insurance.
So some people tend to hang back to plate the car but it means in most cases unplated cars/bikes are not insured?
Now with cheap Chinese bikes the reason most are not plated is because they just don't want to pay these cost.
In your case, you got insurance as you picked the bike up but this it not the normally done thing?
so if a may then add I would not recommend riding a motorbike in China without a plate as police will target these people more than others.

I don't wish to take away from the fact that what you have done was truly amazing. but IMO you were allowed to carry on because the police at the checkpoints had great respect for what you was doing and could see you had lost the use of your left arm?
TIC (This is China) the logic free zone.
And you was lucky..........
But still truly amazing trip
well done, can't wait to see some pictures.
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thanx again nuffsaid!

i guess i was just one lucky guy, not to get busted! and yes it possibly was sometimes just sympathy for my dis-ability! boy, i gotta milk this one more often......hahaha.
and thanx for the registration info.

a lot of my statements were just guesses. this is what ill be changing. cause i now, dont want to be encouraging others to do the same as i did anymore!

if i heard what you guys are saying before the trip, i likely wouldnt have done it. i guess ignorance was bliss!!

it still was an unforgettable experience!
dont know how many pictures i can get up for 4 m.b.?
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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Tom, you GET 10 out 10 from me for your boldness on this trip.

You had a dream got off your ass and done it?

Here in China, we read a lot about riders who was not so lucky?
and end up in Jail and then deported?

But please readers don't let this put you off have your dream and do it.
Were the likes of Mika and Tom lucky? I just don't know.

Do I look down at them and say "Bad boys" NO
I say Great "Bad Boys".

Why only 4 MB?

Just upload your pictures to a picture hosting site then load the link into your post then you won't need to use HUBB broadband.
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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thanx mika. ya, i remember reading your story before starting to write mine, here in thailand! ya, i see, i have a lot more worry at some borders. but you did suffer a little at both borders! but time and patience and a little money can work some magic.! i had more crazy stuff happen! but thats just personal.
you got my respect! no risk, no reward! all my travel experience makes me not fear anymore. thats why i said smile and show no fear! that is half the battle!!
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here in thailand!
What part of Thailand are you staying just now Tom, I am in Chaing rai?
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Old 11 Jan 2017
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hi big damo.
i guess i had so little trouble, because i spent only about 2% of my time in any big cities. if i had to, i rode in straight to hostel, parked it. then the rest on foot. until i drove back out again. ive learned to not like big cities anymore. hours of driving to get anywhere! beijing and chengdu were the only ones over a few million i entered. this is likely why i was so lucky not getting in trouble!
take care
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Wow, thats crazy. Thats where i am ! Im now on rd. By night market at a place called connect cafe. The rd. Is the one that goes to the local bus station here! Im stayin at friendship inn 100 meters south of wat chet yot on chet yot rd. Be awesome to meet you. Day after tomorrow i may leave! Let me know where you are to meet. ?
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