Hairy E-bikers Travel Blog  (The days are in reverse order!)

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Our Charity – Vietnam Newborns

In 2015, neonatal mortality accounted for three quarters of all infant deaths in Vietnam and more than half of mortality in under 5 year olds. It is basically 3-4 times higher than in the UK! We feel passionately that if there is a way of making a difference, we should do what we can. ‘Newborns Vietnam’ are a great charity focused on lowering these rates. Check out our Just Giving page for much more information on the charity.  Please take a look.

Day 25 Nanning to Dongluo            (Distance to date 2532km)

Rock it, man!

Within two hours of arriving in Nanning, a huge city with a population of 7 million, we had somehow booked a paid gig. I googled ‘drinking Nanning’ which lead us to ‘The Queens Head’, a reassuringly English sounding pub. Chatting to the barman Tom started to exclaim about my abilities on the guitar. He must have been convincing because suddenly I was being offered money and beer to perform the next evening. I love money and beer, and as we were going to be taking the next day off anyway, it was an easy decision. The night of the gig was a lot of fun. The pub was not designed as a music venue, and I stood with my trusted guitar that I’d lugged on my bike all the way from Shanghai, right between the bar and the pool table, with one microphone too low for my guitar, and the other too high for my mouth to avoid feedback. I yelled my way through all my go-to covers, even inviting Tom on stage in the second half to shout and dance along to some of his personal favourites, in the way only he can. We woke up at around 2pm the next day and realised we were taking another rest day through no choice of our own. The day after, fully recovered and raring to get going, we headed off on what felt like the last section of the journey.

Despite still having a few days to go before the end of this part of the trip, Nanning is the last city on our route before Hanoi so it was hard not to reflect on the trip so far as we left; and what a trip to reflect on.

China has been nothing like I expected, a country full of lovely people, fascinated by us and our trip, living in a country full of colour, culture and happiness. The landscape has blown me away almost every day, and pushing ourselves on the bikes to experience all of it has been incredible. I can’t imagine a better way to experience a country than to cycle across it with a friend. I was thinking today as we played Frisbee on one of our breaks, next to yet another breath-taking view of mountains and fields, that going through the ups and downs of something like this together for over a month, and somehow coming up laughing has helped evolve a great friendship into an unbreakable one, and I can’t wait for the next chapter: Hanoi to Mumbai. Most importantly we’re really please that we’ve been able to do this for a good cause, and we’re thrilled at some of the donations that have been coming in. We’re still a good way off reaching our target and any further donations would be really appreciated, and the motivation we need for our final push. If you’re interested in reading up on our chosen charity ‘Newborns Vietnam’ (an excellent charity dedicated to lowering the mortality rate of newborns in Vietnam) or in making a donation then please click on this link.

Day 22- 24 Guilin to Binyang     (Distance to date 2414km)

This blog post is going to combine the last 3 days of cycling into one, slightly lengthier, accumulative
post because the cycling has been so intense we haven’t had much time or energy to write it up. We
left off in Guilin last time around, a truly incredible city that marked our entry into the southernmost
province in China, and a dramatic climate change, I mean the sweaty yet manageable kind, not the
death of human kind by natural disasters kind. We took a day here as a last opportunity to get
everything sorted once and for all re: Vietnam business visas, finally choosing a charity to donate to
and setting up our Justgiving page. The visas were expensive, with help from a man on the ground in
Hanoi (my old uni buddy Mr. Alex Reeves), we found a woman who would do them for $351 each, a
snip! Bit less than the alternatives though, thanks Al. However, leaving late due to payment
completions on the Monday, with just three full days until pick up time in Nanning and a small
matter of 275 miles to cover, we had a race on our hands. Not to mention the fact that this kind of
climate change was far more rapid than its notorious cousin and in the short term it too felt pretty
darn life threatening, going from previously averaging 10-20 degrees to a sizzling and humid 30
every day now.

We rounded off day 1 of the push to Nanning with a spectacular sunset ride. Having already done 70
miles pretty much heads down, completing our record of 30 miles without a break, and at one point
being told by my navigation system to head 45 miles straight, we slowed down a bit and took in an
unbelievable close to the day’s riding. It was through small foothill-mountain- roads that ran next to
a tropical turquoise river that looked almost silver in the dying light. Then we encountered plains
filled with kumquat trees, a fruit I’ve only come across in China much smaller than a satsuma, about
the size of a ping pong ball. Maybe that’s why they are so popular here, they remind them of their
favourite sport. The shape of these mountains are most bizarre, they are pointy but rounded on the
top, longer than they are wide and quite often completely lopsided, so as if you were to climb one
vertically you would look straight down to just the distant ground below. All of this with the sky
illuminated with pink and orange light gracing wispy clouds. It is like another world, this tropical part
of China.






I have been really enjoying a new podcast of late called ‘Shaun Keaveny’s Show & Tell’. He interviews
guests about the important stuff that they own. A bit like Desert Island Discs, he asks them to bring
in a book, a piece of music, a photo, a picture, a document, a family heirloom, a gadget and a wild
card object of their choice then they go through it together and talk about why those things have
importance in their lives. I’ve listened to three brilliant episodes with Simon Pegg, Irvine Welsh and
Michael Stipe and highly recommend checking it out. We slowed to enjoy the quiet roads side by
side, no handed taking it turns to become a cross breed of our favourite podcast interviewers and
played ‘Show & Tell’; despite having pretty much spent every day of the last 4.5 months in the
others company, surprisingly I still learnt quite a bit, well worth a try and it’s another truly great

We got to just on the outskirts of Liuzhou, and covered some 90 miles that day. We continued on
another 75 to Laibin the following day again pretty much heads down. We messed about a bit in the
early afternoon down a wide almost clear highway with blue skies and incredible weird shaped
mountains everywhere still. I had a bag of nuts and I chucked one at Danny who almost caught it in
his mouth, this then became the challenge, our most spectacular execution being in single file, me
chucking one directly upwards just hearing screams of joy, turning round to see jubilation as the hair
ball had one caught between his teeth! We also had a Frisbee which made its debut that day, but
after a few successful passes it ended up slowing us down too much as one of us stooped to retrieve
it after being dropped. Lunch was another first, at a petrol station we saw self-cooking rice and pea

boxes. You snap open a kind of pocket warmer pouch, put it in a bag of water (also in the container)
then place the rice above and close the lid which steams it. You then put the veg bag under the box
so it heats it from above. For about the equivalent of £2 that’s some science and convenience for
your buck and it makes a nice change from pot noodles.

Today we covered a mere 55, nothing by our ridiculous standards of late, but it was hot and the
roads weren’t as good as the previous 2 days. It took us almost straight onto a very rural, old and
poorly maintained single-track road which meandered and curled its way through several farming
hamlets and wide expanses of rice fields. Pointed hats and water buffalos aided the men and women
working the fields there, knee deep in water and mud, as they planted and ploughed getting ready
for the summer. I saw a snake swimming, slithering with its head raised above the water line of one
of the muddy pools, its body grooving in the shape of an ‘S’ in its wake. We stopped at a crossroads
to check if we were going the right way and saw a collection of motorbikes and some gathering
assembled on the crest of a nearby hill. We took the decision to investigate thinking perhaps it was a
festival of sorts. We saw a group of men all sitting feet in a pond surrounded by all their motorbikes,
as we continued up the hill loud explosions caused us to jump and we stood there in bewilderment
as large groups of men and women laid out large metallic bowls of an unknown meat on the floor
and stood around setting off fireworks in the middle of the day. Rather than watching the fireworks,
which you could barely make out due to it being lunchtime, they clustered in groups of about 5 – 10
and talked as these explosions rang out all around them. Some bowls of the meat were then offered
to us, but having just had breakfast, and quite unsure of what it was or of its general cleanliness, we
turned them down, said our “ba-byes” (which they also say in China) and headed on. We arrived in
Laibin ahead of schedule, we had thought it was going to be a lot longer than 55 miles, which was a
welcome surprise, and were welcomed by rush hour and all the children coming out of school, which
means smiling, shocked, surprised smiles and lots of waving and thumbs up. Just another 50 or so
miles to go tomorrow and we’ll have all but made it. Nanning, our visas and the final stretch of China
to Vietnam is on the horizon!