China

Coming from Laos and going to Kyrgyzstan, I would have to rush through China doing 6,000 mountainous kilometres in less than 60 days - of course provided I could get a visa extension about half way. Less than 60 days because the visa is 30 days but it’s necessary to apply for extension 3-7 days before the expiry date and the second visa most often begins the day of application and not the day it is received. So 52-56 days are likely making it crucial where I make the extension application, because the rules are different from town to town…

On top of the time challenge, I never wanted to do China in the first place, but as the India/Pakistan route seemed unnecessarily risky and Tibet is illegal, it was the only way when biking around-the-world in my mind literally meant around-the-world without use of public transport except between continents or in emergencies (bike or health). Despite the visa limitations, my initial intension was still to give it a try, but my almost heatstroke in Laos made me reconsider. Why spend at least two weeks fighting the heatwave and countless huge mountains from Luang Prabang to Kunming when it would be hazy with no views because of the heat and smoke. Most likely, I would have to take public transport in China at a later stage to avoid visa-trouble so why not skip the most difficult and boring part. It was interesting that it took a weak body to convince a strong (read stubborn) mind to change perspective on the feeling of cheating. It was an epic decision but once made, it set me free and I decided to take another bus to Xi’an from where I could begin the Silk Road to Europe at its origin.

I've been to China a number of times including Yunnan and Sichuan (in 1999) so I had no problem skipping this part. If biking, there would be no time for the more interesting parts of these provinces, which I had no desire to re-visit anyway. And the stretch I would bike, would predominantly be through a very developed part of China with countless huge cities being busy and very polluted. By “re-starting” my bike trip in Xi’an, I can avoid most of that primarily going through poor and less-developed mountainous and rural areas as well as a long stretch through the Gobi Dessert. In the end, The Pamir Highlands in Central Asia will be my reward. The lack of desire to bike Southeast Asia in the first place combined with the countless bike problems and recent health problems removed almost all my motivation for biking. I can feel the revised China plan has invigorated me and I got my motivation back – a necessary feeling to keep riding as it’s still a long way to Denmark and my life has to be happy and fun; at least most days.