This section from Mae Sai to Chiang Khong is the fortieth instalment of my bicycle loop through South-East Asia from Yunnan – if all goes according to plan. Titled “Slap the Belgian!”, it is simultaneously published on Crazyguyonabike.com, where you’ll find a map with the itinerary and many other bicycle diaries by me and others. I hope you’ll enjoy.

Mae Sai in the morning. Burma border gate in the distance.
Mae Sai in the morning. Burma border gate in the distance.

 I start off with Chinese breakfast. That’s right, like every self-respecting town, Mae Sai has a sizeable contingent of Chinese denizens. I’m appealed by the sign that promises me a bowl of Yunnan’s very own over-the-bridge-noodles 过桥米线 and Shanghai small-basket-buns 小笼包. The order comes out wrong because so I end up having pot stickers 锅贴 instead. They’re horrible. And so are the noodles. Sweet, minging, lacking spice and a layer of oil floating on top. My fault for trusting Chinese food outside China (or at all).

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This section from Mae Salong to Mae Sai is the thirty-ninth instalment of my bicycle loop through South-East Asia from Yunnan – if all goes according to plan. Titled “Slap the Belgian!”, it is simultaneously published on Crazyguyonabike.com, where you’ll find a map with the itinerary and many other bicycle diaries by me and others. I hope you’ll enjoy.

Again, fireworks are cracking before dawn gets a chance to. I lunge my heavy head outside the door and watch the sun rise. No chance of a morning market on Chinese New Year’s day: pretty much everything is closed, with the exception of 7-eleven. With the first morning light, singing children start terrorising the streets, banging on doors and asking for hard cash. When they spot me on my balcony, they stare a bit, murmur to each other, and then hesitantly sing something I don’t understand – probably asking for money. I hide behind my white skin and smile like an idiot.

Sunrise over Mae Salong
Sunrise over Mae Salong

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Morning bliss at the Dulong river

This is the account of a trekking journey I recently undertook in the Dulong river valley, Yunnan’s remotest corner in between Myanmar and Tibet. Part one of this story was originally published on GoKunming.com.

We stretch our stiff legs when we alight the green and white jeep. For the past three days, we’ve done nothing but sit in ever smaller vehicles: big comfy bus from Kunming to Liuku 六库, a smaller regional bus from Liuku to Gongshan 贡山, and finally a small jeep loaded with eight people bouncing their heads off the padded bodywork that took us across a high mountain pass from Gongshan to Kongdang 孔当.

We’ve arrived in Yunnan’s most secluded valley, home to the Dulong river 独龙江 which rages from its headwaters in Tibet through a mere 100 km of Yunnan, shedding over 1000 metres in altitude before flowing into Myanmar’s Irawaddy river. Locals consist of the Dulong 独龙族 and Lisu minorities 傈僳族 , but there are some Nu people 怒族 to be found as well.

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