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Day 5 Tiger Leaping Gorge Rest day

Rest day was more of a recovery day for us. Jason and Ken set off for a 15km run along the gorge’s high road, but for most, it was a day to catch up on sleep and some laundry.
After brunch, some of the riders headed down the gorge towards the river, only to get horribly lost- a bit strange as the river was hard to miss! (In fact, the trail is so narrow and overgrown with thickets in spots, it’s only a guess which way one should go.) In the end, only Sally got her toes down to the freezing and rapid waters of the Mighty Yangzi.
The rest of the group headed up the mountain to a tall waterfall at the top. The three-hour hike was well worth the effort for those who still had the legs to tackle the climb.

Photos (mostly) by Ana:

Day 4 Bai Shui Tai to Tiger Leaping Gorge 69km

We set off down the road from Bai Shui Tai, riding past sunflower and corn fields, and getting lots of curious looks from the locals as we rode past. There were many scenic rest stops, until we reached our lunch stop at a local roadside lodge.
Jason and Nicola showed off their skills balancing empty Coke bottles on their noses, at one time getting three on top of each other.
After lunch we had the most amazing descent down to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, dropping over 1000m in just over 20km. We negotiated dozens of switchbacks, with views of the Yangzi River cutting through the gorge. We could see Haba mountain, at 5000m one of the highest peaks in Yunnan province, opposite Jade mountain, which was hidden in the cloud. At one point, Nicola, Tony, Scot and Sean worked together to shove a giant boulder over the cliff into the gorge seemingly a mile below. It was a totally pointless exercise, but equally fun.
The final climb took us to Sean’s Guest House (no relation to our Sean), perched on one side of the cliff overlooking the gorge, high above the Yangzi River. It was an amazing site to behold, with a cliff-face rising high up the other side, blocking out most of the sky.

Day 3 Jiu Long to Bai Shui Tai (White Water Terraces) 58km

We started the day with a hearty breakfast of noodles and eggs, before continuing down the valley. After a short descent we had the longest climb of the day, a 7km ride back up to 3500m. It was a tough climb because of the altitude, but we all made it to the top, after many photo stops to get our breath back and take in the view.
The downhill made up for the tough climb, with many photo opportunities and it seemed at one stage like we had someone stopped on every corner taking photos! The next climb was probably the toughest, with the sun now bearing down on the riders and many of us getting sunburned despite copious amounts of sunscreen.
We stopped for lunch just after the top, with fried rice, pork and Chinese vegetables to refuel for the descent. The local kids were singing in their village, prompting Niocola to break out with his own Italian operatic rendition, which echoed across the valley. We’re not sure what the locals made of us, as it was an unusual sight- these opera singing one-wheeled cyclists eating fried rice on the of the road.
We had another climb before descending to the town of Bai Shui Tai, which translates to White Water Terraces.
There are enormous limestone terraces formed by water trickling down the mountain, with deep pools of water collecting in the white rock as they cascade down. Several of our riders hiked to the top to view these natural wonders close-up, and then hitched a ride back to the lodge on some guy’s ute (pick-up truck).

Day 2 Shangri-La to Jiu Long

Today was our first day of riding: 48.3km with one very large hill in the middle.
We had a hearty breakfast of baked beans, grilled tomatoes, scrambled eggs and ginger tea. After packing up our gear we were on the road out of Shangri-La. Not far along our way, an old woman swept Gilby off his feet, literally: she swept her broom right into his wheel, giving him an unneeded jolt (having already injured his leg before the tour), causing him eventually to have to switch to bike for the rest of the tour.
The ride took us along through a national park, with beautiful streams, grassy hills and low scrub. We had a picnic lunch and then rode up to 3,720m, the highest point of the tour. It was a tough climb, but everyone made it!
After that it was a fast and very fun, winding descent down into the valley below.
We were supposed to camp out on this night, but managed to find some cabins instead. We stayed in a small village of Jiu Long, which was nothing more than a few houses scattered on the road overlooking a lush green valley. Accommodation was very basic, with half the group staying in an old storage shed (oddly enough, featuring a dusty disco ball), the rest crammed into little beds.
Dinner was delicious, with plenty of home grown vegetables from the village.
We spent the night stargazing, with David Weston once again showing us the different stars and constellations as he did on the Mongolia Unitour.

Day 1 Shangri La

The riders on the Yunnanuni tour met today for the start of the Yunnanuni tour. We’ve come from as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Italy, Scotland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, and the United States.

Getting to the tour starting point of Shangri-La was not without challenges. Ana and Ken almost missed the start of the tour courtesy of a typhoon that stranded them in Shanghai. Luckily, the typhoon missed the city and they managed to rebook their flights with Ken’s rudimentary Mandarin. Tony Melton split his head open at Auckland Airport, and ended up in hospital getting it glued back together. Most of the riders also came by 5-7hr bus from Lijiang to Shangri-La, which was challenging to say the least- imagine a cramped bus winding up the mountains in Yunnan province with smoking, spitting, smelly feet, and not to mention bad singing.

Shangri-La is a beautiful town high up in the mountains at 3300m. There are lots of old rustic Tibetan buildings and crisp mountain air. The group enjoyed turning the giant, golden prayer wheel at the foot of a beautiful Tibetan temple. John had met young couple on the bus who own a restaurant in the old town of Shangri-La, and for one of the nights before the start of the tour, the group dined on traditional Tibetan dishes, including yak meat and fried vegetable balls.

We had our tour briefing at the hotel, with Jason our tour leader explaining the tour route and what to expect, and Ken handing out the cycle jerseys to the riders.

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant (surprise!) and it was off to bed before the big ride the following day.

Counting down…

Only two days left before the start of The Yunnanuni: China Unicycle Tour 2011!

Most of the riders are on the way to the middle country, and about half the group will meet Lijiang to catch a bus to our starting point of Shangri-La.

We’ll try to keep you updated with a daily blog whenever we get online.  Some riders are already in Shangri-La, and weather reports so far indicate rain and cold weather.  Let’s hope it clears before we start the tour officially on Monday.

The last time we were in China in 2008, our webhost (Bluehost) was blocked from China (courtesy of The Great Firewall of China), but we’ll see if we can get around it!



We’re starting the tour in the town of Shangri-La, named after the fictional town in the 1933 book Lost Horizons by James Hilton.  It is claimed to be the inspiration behind the novel set in the Tibetan town high in the mountains.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“Hugh Conway, a veteran member of the British diplomatic service, finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La, whose inhabitants enjoy unheard-of longevity. Among the book’s themes is an allusion to the possibility of another cataclysmic world war brewing, as indeed it was at the time. It is said to have been inspired at least in part by accounts of travels in Tibetan borderlands, published in the National Geographic by the explorer and botanist Joseph Rock. The remote communities he visited, such as Muli, show many similarities to the fictional Shangri-La. One such town, Zhongdian, has now officially renamed itself as Shangri La (Chinese: Xianggelila) because of its claim to be the inspiration for the novel.”

If you’re coming on tour, make sure you have a copy:

Preview Pics

Some pictures of the scenery and terrain we will be riding through on Yunnanuni

Yunnan Unicycle Tour

It’s confirmed!

In August 2011, we will be the first group of unicyclists to unicycle through Yunnan Province in Southwestern China.

We will be riding in the mountains, starting in the Tibetan town of Shangri La, and  finishing at the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge above the Yangze River.

For those of you who have been following our Adventure Unicyclist and Grasshopper Tours, this is your chance to get on board, and be the first to Unicycle through some spectacular landscapes up in the mountains (between 2000 and 4000m).

The dates 8 August 2011 (Day 1)- 19 August 2011 (Day 12)

Email us through the contact form if you are interested in the tour. It’s open to anyone who can ride a unicycle.

If you haven’t followed any of our previous Unitours, here is the latest one from Mongolia, in August this year: