China 2012: back in Chengdu

by Bicycle Junkies
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We leave Shangri-La and find quiet roads towards the Tiger Leaping Canyon. There are not many people in this area and it’s quiet with a few heavy climbs in between and some great views on white peaks in the distance. The Tibetan flat-roofed white houses disappear and make way for decorative Chinese ones.

Tiger Leaping Canyon
To reach the Tiger Leaping Canyon we have to cross about five passes, but the reward is a long descend into to canyon through pine forests, which remind us of Canada. I love the smell of pine trees! For quite a while we have an amazing view of a giant (over 5500 meter) white peaked mountain.

Once we reach the canyon the fun is over and a storm is hitting us in the face, it takes a lot of hard work to be able to reach Walnut Grove, where the mighty Yangtze river is flowing beneath us, with 6380 kilometer the longest river in Asia. Every time we round a corner, the wind blows us sideways and we can hardly keep cycling. At one moment the wind just blows my water bottle out of the holder! Well, I hope some Chinese person is happy with it…

Touristic Lijiang

Shangri-La still was ‘pure’, but Lijiang is really touristy! The old city is no more than souvenir shops, expensive restaurants, MacDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC! (I admit… A Pizza after eating three times a day rice, rice and rice for a few weeks can be really tasty!). The kids don’t mind being photographed, which is kind of nice and at night the squares fill up with people dancing in a circle: young, old, modern, indigenous, rich, poor… everybody is dancing! Like a Chinese line-dancing. 😉 This is our last stop and we cycle a couple of kilometers to the train station, which brings us back to Chengdu.

Chengdu: bringing back memories
Three years ago I was walking alone through Peoples Park, I was drinking coffee at Starbucks by myself and I visited the Giant Pandas alone… while Elmar was in the hospital for a (then) unknown illness. Now, we can do all these things together! I’m so glad he recovered after a year of hard work, training and a very determined mindset! Not something you can say about the Pandas, they were lazy then.., they are lazy now! But, they are funny to watch and who cares, we can do this together and that is what matters most.
The very last night in the city, Elmar decides he does want to go back to the hospital, something I really wanted to do, for closure. But it’s not my decision, Elmar has to decide and at the very last moment, he asks the taxi driver to bring us to West China Hospital. The guy thinks we are hurt and wants to drop us of at the emergency entrance, but I ask him for the main entrance. For me, it’s like yesterday I was here; the memories are back. The shop where I used to buy sandwiches, the flower stands, the entrance… We enter the hospital and find out Dr. Wu Gang is still working here! We take the elevator upstairs and room 726 is still the same… Laura, our Swiss nurse no longer works here and unfortunately for us, Dr. Wu Gang is not on duty tonight. But it’s ok. We can finally really close this chapter in our lifes. To really finish it, I take a picture of a healthy and smiling Elmar in front of the hospital. Goodbye Chengdu, goodbye China. We’ve had a good time here, next destination: ‘cycling the Americas on our world tour!’

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