Cycling in Yunnan: from Lincang to Jinghong via highway 214

Don’t do it, it’s impossible. And we think that this will remain so for some years to come. The right option should be to turn left 42 kms south of Lincang and follow road 323 to Pu’er and Simao.

(The above paragraph has to be corrected. Two months later we met Bjorn from Sweden. He told us that het had done this very route by bike three years ago. We believe him, since we witnessed what he did in southern Laos, this guy is not afraid to try something new). He rode the direct connection between Attapeu and route 13 near Champassak; highway 18. This road is well indicated on the map, but not more then a single track in the middle.)

Following the proudly announced national highway 214 you’ll find out that near Shihuiyao (120 kms south of Lincang) the road changes into a very mountainous cobblestone, gravel and mud road and that only some 15 kms before Lancang the road will be paved again. Leaving Lancang the same will happen after 20 kms, you’ll thud and bounce up a high and steep mountain again. After crossing a pass you’ll find the 214 back again, but under construction. In our case, as buspassengers, this meant that we stood in the red mud for hours, waiting untill again another bus or car was dug out of the clay and we could proceed again for a couple of hundred meters. It was a weird busride and our respect for our young and cheerful driver was great. Impossible and hairrazing stunts he performed with his 18-seater busIn Menghai, in the Xishuanbanna plain, we got of the bus. All in all we had – in 2 stages – covered app. 390 kms by bus in some 15 hours. The rides were spectacular and there was never a dull moment though.

From Menghai to Jinghong the road is perfect again. Again we learned that you cannot trust maps here. The national highway 214 is nicely indicated on both our Nelles and Chinese maps, but for some 400 kms it is still the narrow and bouncing historic mountain road and for half of this stretch it nearly doesn’t exist at all.

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