An enraged local man punches Eric in the face, busting his glasses. That’s how our China tour began.
Actually, there were two men. The middle-aged guy shook Eric by the collar while the younger one threw the punch.
A case of road rage gone really wrong Here’s how it all went down…
The Chinese guys are cruising in their $50,000 Porsche Cayennne SUV the wrong way down the road. They flash their lights(universal developing world signal that you’re about to execute an illegal road maneuver) and hang a sharp left right in front of Eric. Our man on the bike swerves to avoid a head on collision and nicks the side of the SUV.
No harm done, thinks Eric and continues merrily on his way. I’m out in front oblivious to the entire incident. Eric catches up to me and we drop in to a bakery to enjoy some hot sesame rolls. Eric mentions not a word about the road incident and as far as I know it’s just another nice morning on the bikes.
Not so fast
Soon we’re off again. Suddenly out of nowhere an irate individual jumps in front of my bike and begins shouting and shaking his fists. I’m caught completely off balance. Who is this dude and what in the world have I done to infuriate him?
Eric rocks up and recounts the events. Mr Porsche is shouting like a mad man and gesturing at his Porsche. I check it out. There is a little dent. Could a little jolt by a slow moving cyclist really have caused that sort of damage? I wonder.
That’s when Mr. Porsche briefly goes bonkers and Eric gets whacked in the face.
Cops on the way
In hindsight, it’s a good thing Eric got hit (he claims it didn’t really hurt anyway and the glasses were $10 cheapies purchased in Jakarta). When the police rolled up, they were obviously troubled by the inconvenient assault of a tourist. With physical injury, we had leverage.
After three tense hours at the police station, the matter was sorted out to our satisfaction. We relinquished our right to press charges for assault and Mr Porsche dropped the charge of property damage. I think Mr Porsche was satisfied, too. He realized the seriousness of his actions and I’m sure the money to repair his vehicle is just a drop in the bucket compared to all his wealth.
Now, we’re not admitting any fault here. The guy was driving the wrong way and HE caused the collision. But we can’t deny the little dent in the Porsche.
Anyway, being interrogated by the Chinese police is not how we envisaged starting off our tour. I will say that all the officers involved were highly professional and courteous. Two of the female officers spoke decent English and assured us that the police would find “the right answer.’ We have no complaints about the Chinese justice system so far.
That was, fortunately, the one and only mishap we’ve had in Yunnan province. We’re having a great time here and Southwest China will probably turn out to be one of our absolute favorite destinations.
Back on the bikes
The cycling has been excellent. Beautiful rural roads with light traffic. Some big climbs, but never too steep. Scenic villages, delicious food and even some friendly people.
Yes, I know tourists rarely rave about the warm welcome they receive from the Chinese. But locals are really quite nice if you smile and greet them with a hearty Ni Hao. One guy we met even dashed off to the bakery to present us with some bread, knowing ‘foreigners can’t eat rice.’
I think a few photos will give you a good feel for the region:
Total Kilometers Cycled: 154,077
China route: Border crossing from Laos at Mohan-Mengla-Menglun-Puer-Jing gu-Jingdong
Thanks to Hana Black and Mark Watson of Highlux Photo for their detailed route info and inspiring images.