South China by bicycle, Fall 1999

From September 25 through October 9, 1999, I joined a bicycle tour of Guangdong and Guanxi provinces in southern China. This area is mostly rural and very scenic. The residents were very friendly and curious about foreigners (who rarely visit rural China).
Our group of 5 Americans met in Hong Kong. We took a ferry boat from there to Zhaoqing on the mainland, where we met our Chinese guide. We bicycled 40-50 miles per day on both dirt and paved roads, spending 11 days in mainland China.

Our route roughly followed the North Pearl River north from Zhaoqing to Lianshan, turned west along the He River to Zhongshan, then north along the Li River to Guilin. We then caught a plane to Canton and a train back to Hong Kong.

REI organized our trip and supplied our bicycles: 21-speed Diamondback mountain bikes with fat tires and front suspensions.

Urban China has rapidly modernized over the past 20 years. Major Chinese cities are fast becoming economic and social equals of major US cities, but most rural areas still use basic hand farming techniques. This trip showed us both sides of China and we can only guess what the future will bring to the Chinese people.

While a new highway system is being built in southern China, our guide was careful to show us mostly little used, often dirt, roads. This route also took us to many smaller towns that have changed little since the communist revolution in 1949.

Here are some more pictures (the best scenery was on the second half of the trip):
Page 2 - Hong Kong, Zhaoqing
Page 3 - Qingyuan, Mingjing, Sanpai
Page 4 - Yangshan, Lianshan, Yingyang
Page 5 - Zhongshan, Xingping
Page 6 - Yangshuo
Page 7 - Guilin, Canton
A larger route map (180KB)

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