TBR China ADV Riding

Located in Xinglong town, about one and a half hour's drive from Sanya in Hainan Province, Xinglong Tropical Botanical Garden was built in 1957.
Covering an area of 400,000 square meters, it boasts approx. 1,200 tropical plants. The botanical garden is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Hainan Island was told a few times by island natives ~ not a single soul around the whole day we went riding.
Guess all them tourists hang out in the Haitang Bay Duty Free Mall (largest in the world) or up the road at Capital Outlet Mall near Shenzhou Peninsula....

Regular KTM450EXC service (oil & filter change / air-filter change) and some additional preventive maintenance.
As usual, the right proper tools & parts at hand and lets not forget the six important P's: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.....
As there is way too much talk about the KTM-EXC maintenance, click the web-link and read all about the service & maintenance work = KTM450EXC OWNERS MANUAL

Found a rusty souvenir in the rear tyre....

Yinggehai Salt Fields now sort of a "official tourist destination" with the brown road / tourists signs leading the way and a designated G98 Expressway exit.
Exploring Hainan is not fully complete unless one visits at least one of the two ancient salt fields: Yangpu Ancient Salt Field and Yinggehai Ancient Salt Field, which provide travelers with a rare view of China from another time. Hainan is ideal for salt farms, particularly along the curved coastline stretching from Sanya to Danzhou.
These were the best-preserved salt fields in China to my knowledge....

Further up the coast line, YANGPU Ancient Salt Field, has been a few years since my last visit = 19.740353 109.213715
The entire area around the salt field is developing and the ancient salt stones keep disappearing, we have been offered to take some ancient slate salt stones away for a small fee during our short visit...

The Yangpu Ancient Salt Field is (was) an archeological heritage site in Yantian village, on the Yangpu Peninsula in Hainan, China. The site is (was) an example of salt's various roles in Chinese history.
The area comprises (had) more than 1,000 stones, cut flat on top, which are used to evaporate seawater to produce salt. The stones have a thin rim around the edge to contain the water. During high tide, the surface of the stones becomes filled with seawater.
During low tide, this evaporates, leaving the salt, which is then collected......

Qizi Bay, located near Changhua Town (Changjiang County / Hainan Island / China), extends for approx. 20k's from east to west. It is to the west of the Changhualing Mountain range and to the North of Changhua fishing port = 19.375151 108.689043

The bay has a wonderfully mild climate all year round that makes it an ideal remote and quite bathing resort along the western coast of Hainan till today, who knows in future years. There are many oddly shaped stones and reefs scattered along the shores and many craggy rocks protruding from the sea water. The local legend of the bay's origin is as follows as told by some natives: long, long ago, two immortals came down from the heavens and played a game of chess (Chinese chess, of course). They were so engaged in their game that they forgot to have lunch. The local villagers, after seeing this, brought out delicious foods to offer them. After they finished the game and the food, they attempted to thank the villagers in person, but the villagers were nowhere to be found. To show their gratitude, they threw all their chess pieces into the sea, which turned into reefs and stones thereby forever sheltering the village from winds and waves of the sea. Ever since then, the village has prospered and is famous for its scenic charm....

We could have taken our bikes for rides on the long sandy and rocky beach stretches but decided against it was just peaceful and stunning letting it all slowly sink in while enjoying our afternoon snack break, pictures don't do the bay justice in our opinion...

With approx. 1823 kilometers of shoreline, Hainan is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and coastal scenery in China. Along its seemingly endless sandy beaches and coastline are several breathtaking bays as of today, lets see what the future brings with all the new developments and construction in the planning stages. Many of Hainan Island’s most popular beaches can be explored along the eastern shores but for travelers eager to explore the less popular but also truly beautiful western region, there are plenty of fantastic beaches with spectacular views to discover.

VOLCANIC COAST NORTH-WEST HAINAN ISLAND around the greater region of Danzhou town, a prefecture-level town in the northwest of the Chinese island province of Hainan. Although called a "city / town", Danzhou administers a large area which was called Dan County or Danxian until 1993. The administrative seat and urban center of Danzhou is Nada Town, which is often colloquially referred to as Danzhou city. Danzhou was upgraded from a county-level city into a prefecture-level city in February 2015.

Basically the extended region around Eman Volcanic Coast is where most of Hainan's interesting volcanic formations are located. The bizarre rocks, sea cliffs and pillar-shaped structures along the whinstone coast cliffs, combined with strong waves, offer spectacular scenery. Fossil corals are widespread on the coast of northwestern Hainan Island, China. Most of these corals are exposed during low tide levels, indicating that a higher sea level may have existed during their life time. The radiocarbon data introduced by this paper in combination with those from other sources show that the corals were alive mainly during the mid- to late-Holocene. Mid-Holocene sea levels 1–3m higher than the present level were confirmed for adjacent coasts; however, the emerged corals on the investigated coast are not necessarily indicators of a higher eustatic sea level. They do predict relative sea levels of 1.5–3.4m when using 1m below the tidal datum as the upper limit of coral growth. However, using the Mean Lower Low Water as the coral’s upper growth limit, the relative sea level on the non-volcanic coast was almost as high as the present level, whereas that on the volcanic coast was 0.4–2.0m higher than present. Therefore, the exposure of these dead coral heads and their discrepancy in elevation may be the result of tectonic uplift caused by volcanic activities. From these results, the highest sea level of upward coral growth must be defined first when using fossil corals to reconstruct past sea levels. Meanwhile, vertical tectonics have to be taken into account as a significant factor when conducting high-resolution sea level reconstruction, although the South China coast is located in a “tectonically stable” region.

Hanging around the hotel pool for a refreshing dip, sorting through pictures and GoPro footage while enjoying the beach, sunsets and some great tasty Mexican dinner prepared by an experienced Chef from "Down Under"....

Wuzhishan mountain ranges riding loop ~ having a sweet Xmas season snack at the impressive revolutionary monument has become a tradition during the last few years....
The monument is located in the mountains besides S313 Provincial Road / GPS: 18°55'46.6"N 109°28'13.5"E
The Wuzhishan Mountain is located at the center of Hainan Island, with the title of the highest mountain in Hainan Island makes it one of the symbol of Hainan and also one of the famous mountains in China.

Wuzhishan (Five Finger Mountain) was the center of Hainan Island for a long time, not only in a geographical sense. In 1949, the first Communist party base was set up in Wuzhishan with Wang Guo Xing as the leader of the Li people and as the general director of the Party on Hainan. In 1955, the first local government of Hainan Island was set up and Wuzhishan became the capital of Hainan Island. The capital moved to Haikou in 1988 when Hainan Island was part of Guangdong Province, not directly under the control of Central Government. In 1988, the Central Government set up the largest special economic zone at the time. It was Hainan Island with Haikou as its capital, then coming under the direct control of the Central Government, thus becoming a separate Province of the People’s Republic of China. Before 2001, this place was called Tongza which in local Li Language means “Rice field on the top of a mountain surrounded by rainforest .” The Li Language expressed the location of the community well. In 2001, the local government changed the name from Tongza to Wuzhishan Hainan (Hainan Five Finger Mountain).....

Holiday Beach (officially Holiday Beachside Resort) is a well known beach and visitor attraction located along Binhai Road, Haikou, Hainan Island (China) = http://wikitravel.org/en/Haikou
The 7-kilometre-long, 33 hectare beach area was officially established in 1995. Since then, it has undergone development with the establishment of visitor attractions such as restaurants, swimming pools, an outdoor roller skating rink, and an amphitheatre.
The land beside the beach has been landscaped and pathways created. The entire shoreline is maintained by workers who remove rubbish. Holiday beach is a popular destination for tourists.
It is known by residents of Haikou as a place to eat "Chuanr" ( famous BBQ sticks) at night. The beach has also been the site of major competitions for such sports as kitesurfing and volleyball.

Last relaxed island afternoon ride along Holiday Beach (Haikou) and snack break watching the surfers and other water sports activities going on = http://kitesurfchina.com

Done and dusted, another exciting winter run on Hainan Island / South China completed....

Hainan is the smallest and southernmost province of the People's Republic of China, consisting of various islands in the South China Sea. Hainan Island, separated from Guangdong's Leizhou Peninsula by the Qiongzhou Strait, is the largest island under PRC control (Taiwan, which is slightly larger, is also claimed but not controlled by the PRC) and makes up the majority of the province. The province has an area of 33,920 square kilometers, with Hainan Island making up 32,900 square kilometers (97%) and the rest divided among two hundred islands scattered across three archipelagos. It was administered as part of Guangdong until 1988, when it became a separate province; around the same time, it was made the largest Special Economic Zone established by Deng Xiaoping as part of the Opening Up of China. There are a total of ten major cities and ten counties in Hainan Province. Haikou on the northern coast of Hainan Island is the capital while Sanya is a well-known tourist destination on the southern coast. The other major cities are Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Wuzhishan, Dongfang, and Danzhou. China's controversial claims in the South China Sea, including the Nansha and Xisha Islands, are notionally administered as part of the province.....

China is rapidly changing in many forms and various ways, quite a lot of "remodelling" and construction going on all around the country as mention elsewhere before in this thread. Well ~ having the great privilege to ride totally legally, fully licensed and freely (except Tibet / TAR) around the fascinating and diverse country puts a smile on my face and shall continue doing my PRC rounds as long as I have a home-base in the country and with the proper set up and right bikes at hand should be some very interesting riding. China ride reporting might be continued in the future...

Seriously fried the Kawasaki KLX150 "Backyard Basher" clutch while riding in deep wet sand around the Hainan Island bays during the Winter Island Run and we got a Yamaha YBR125 as temporary replacement to trash around the island.
"Backyard Basher" all fixed during CNY (Chinese New Year) back at home-base Shanghai with new upgraded parts and some modifications like drilling the clutch basket for better lubrication and installing Honda clutch plates (wider / thicker) and Kawasaki KX85 clutch springs (stiffer) ~ clutch feels great and ready to roll again....

A riders work is never done ~ KTM450EXC sports custom ordered HAAN WHEELS (Cush Hub / Excel A60 Rims / Stainless Steel Spokes) now with Pirelli Scorpion Rally (front / rear), Dirt Tricks Chainwheel (52T), Braking Stainless Rotors (front / rear), MotionPro Liteloks (Rim Locks), GoldenTyre Inner Tubes (heavy duty).
Did a few commuter rides and feels great ~ rock solid and stable, riding with much lower revs and absolute no "chain chatter" and vibrations at all common for some hardcore dirtbikes used extensively on the roads. The original wheel set will be used for super grippy offroad knobbies as swapping out complete wheels is a breeze on the fantastic orange EXC machines.....

Haan Wheels = http://www.haanwheels.com / http://www.haanwheels.com/haan/en/rally/
Dirt Tricks = http://dirttricks.com
Motion Pro = https://www.motionpro.com
GoldenTyre = http://www.goldentyreworld.com
Braking = http://www.braking.com

As per HAAN WHEELS recommendation, checking the spoke tension after a few rides and the WARP9 Spoke Torque Wrench kit comes very handy....


Tea Run April 2017, just some simple shots taken around the mountains right after the long weekend national China holiday known as the Qingming or Ching Ming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day in English), is a traditional Chinese festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April in a given year. Other common translations include Chinese Memorial Day and Ancestors' Day. Qingming Festival is when Chinese people visit the columbaria, graves or burial grounds to pray to their ancestors.

The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper, and/or libations to the ancestors. The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off the evil spirit that wanders on Qingming.

On Qingming, people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, and dance. Qingming is also a time when young couples traditionally start courting. Another popular thing to do is to fly kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera. Another common practice is to carry flowers instead of burning paper, incense, or firecrackers.

Tea has huge symbolic and cultural significance in China, while its centuries of history in the hills of Mokhan Shan comes riddled with intrigue. Notable is a cunning act of bio-piracy in 1848 when England's East India Company dispatched Scottish plant collector Robert Fortune to collect the finest varieties of tea to break China's monopoly of the market. To gain easier access to China's interior he shaved his head, leaving just a ponytail, and wore Chinese clothes. He travelled to the plantations near Mokhan Shan, collected plants and seeds and set up nurseries in Shanghai. In the end, Fortune dispatched more than 20,000 tea plants to India, a country that 40 years later was supplying 90 percent of Britain's domestic market. Today varieties including Mogan Yellow Bud and Ming Qian Long Jing are picked on site at by women from the local community during the short harvest season that lasts from the end of March to early May.

The Qingming festival holiday has a significance in the Chinese tea culture as well since this specific day divides the fresh green teas by their picking dates. Green teas made from leaves picked before this date are given the prestigious 'pre-qingming' designation which commands a much higher price tag. These teas are prized for having much lighter and subtler aromas than those picked after the festival.

Testing the KTM450EXC bike set-up (offroading) with the recently installed Haan Wheels, Clake SLR plus a few other things as usual around the vast hilly Moganshan bamboo forest regions. Getting sort of lost along the bamboo logging trails and tea plantations is always a relaxing weekend break from the "big smoke" Shanghai….

Tried and tasted some fresh bamboo shoots yet...???

Fresh Bamboo Shoots - How to Prepare (makes enough bamboo shoot for one stir fry)


2 fresh bamboo shoots
1 tbsp sugar
6 cups water reserved from rinsing rice (or just plain water is fine too)

Directions: Wash the dirt off the bamboo shoots. Using a sharp knife, slice through the outer leaves along one side all the way from tip to the bottom of the shoot. Use your finger tips to pry open along the cut you have just made. Once pried open stick your fingers in and around the outer skin and pull away from the creamy white shoot inside. You should be able to remove the whole outer skin. Check the now peeled shoot to see if top layer tender. If not soft and tender, remove layers until tender. Shave off any knobby fibrous bits around the stem. Cut off around an inch of the tough end of the stem until you reach the tender part of the shoot. No woody fibrous bits should remain.
Reserve the water used for rinsing your rice until you have enough to cover the bamboo shoots by a good inch in a pot. Or you can also just use plain water. When water is boiling add in the sugar and the peeled bamboo shoots. Let simmer over medium heat for 30 mins. It is ready when a knife goes through with no resistance and there is no more bitterness. If still bitter change the water and let boil for another 5-10 minutes. Let cool in the covered pot. When cool enough, slice first in half lengthwise, then into 1/4" thick slices at an diagonal, or into 1/4" by 3" strips
The bamboo is now prepared! You can eat it as is, cool it in the fridge and make a nice salad, or add it into some delicious Chinese stir fries!

Lost in Zhejiang "High Country"
Not really as quite in the know where I am at any given time. We always hang out around Moganshan (Zhejiang) for decades and this time around went back over to the Simingshan region in Zhejiang province of Peoples Republic of China scouting some new trail and enduro routes for the future. Reminds and feels a bit like riding the Aussie Victoria "High Country"…

Located on the coast of the East China Sea in the southeast of the country, Zhejiang province borders with Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi and Fujian. It is the province with the most islands in the country, with 2,000 islands off its coast. Its southwest is high in altitude while the northeast is low. And its vast waters form the large offshore fishing ground of Zhejiang province. Being a province with a lot of ancient cities and towns, Zhejiang is endowed with abundant cultural and historical heritages. It is in this very place that the traditional Chinese culture is well-preserved. Visitors have the chance to experience the ancient life of Chinese people when travelling around Zhejiang province.

Lying between Ningbo (Zhejiang) and Shaoxing (Zhejiang), Siming Mountains are stretching from Yuyao in the north to Shengzhou in the south. The mountains rise to a height of 400-900 meters above sea level, with Jinzhong Mountain at the extreme southeast corner of the ridge being the highest peak at 1018 meters. As rainfall is abundant, the natural scenery here is green and the deep gorges hide fast flowing rivers and streams, dotted with waterfalls and natural pools.

During the summer, the temperature in Siming Mountains is significantly lower than in the blazing plains below, which makes the area a great cooling respite. At the height of winter, if you're lucky, you will even be able to see the unique phenomenon of rime trees, where vapor rising from the rivers freezes on the bare tree brances, a very rare sight in China's south.

Siming ridge is brimming with natural reserves, lakes, waterfalls and ancient mountain villages. The area also bears significance in Chinese revolutionary history, as many Communist Party branches were established in the villages here (including one in Shilin village) during the war against Japan and the civil war.

Tea processing is the method in which the leaves from the tea plant Camellia sinensis are transformed into the dried leaves for brewing tea.The categories of tea are distinguished by the processing they undergo. In its most general form, tea processing involves different manners and degree of oxidation of the leaves, stopping the oxidation, forming the tea and drying it.The innate flavour of the dried tea leaves is determined by the type of cultivar of the tea bush, the quality of the plucked tea leaves, and the manner and quality of the production processing they undergo. After processing, a tea may be blended with other teas or mixed with flavourants to alter the flavour of the final tea.

Leaf teas are processed either by roasting or steaming. Roasted tea are also called pan-fried tea.[1] Generally, roasted varieties are richer in flavor, while steamed varieties are more vivid in color. The ancient Chinese society first encountered the tea plant in what is now southern China and processed it as another medicinal herb for use in Chinese herbology. The processing technique used to process fresh tea leaves was to immediately steam the fresh tea leaves and dry them for preservation, which is likely the most ancient Chinese form of tea leaf processing. This processing method was perfected near the end of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) and produced a dried tea that would be classified today as "green tea" and quite similar to modern Japanese sencha. For consumption, dried tea leaves were either decocted with water around with other herbs, or ground into a powder to be taken straight or in a liquid.

With the increase of tea's use in Chinese herbology, production methods changed, where the processed green tea leaves were not immediately dried after steaming. Rather the steamed tea leaves were first pulverized into a paste form, with the paste then formed in moulds and slowly dried into brick tea, a technique well described by Lu Yu in his work The Classic of Tea. Tender leaves and leaf buds were generally not used, as older mature tea leaves were preferred for tea production. Some tea bricks were also produced from mature whole leaves, which typically required the use of a cooked rice slurry to bind the tea brick together. The preference of producing tea in brick form possibly stems from the fact that it can be more easily transported and stored.

Green tea drying is done to "finish" the tea for sale. This can be done in a myriad of ways including panning, sunning, air drying, or baking. Baking is usually the most common. Great care must be taken to not over-cook the leaves. The drying of the produced tea is responsible for many new flavour compounds particularly important in green teas.


Dongqian Lake is a lake lying in the southeast of Yinzhou District, Ningbo in the Zhejiang province of eastern China. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in Zhejiang province with a water surface area of approx. 20 square kilometers. Since ancient times the Lake has been a famous scenic spot in Eastern Zhejiang province.

Dongqian Lake is an increasingly popular destination for residents of Ningbo (it's around a 45- minute drive out of the city centre), but the expressway links to the city from Shanghai mean that it's also a convenient weekend break from here. Although tourist developments are expanding to serve this trade, the lake remains largely untroubled by the sort of crowds who swarm around, say, Hangzhou's West Lake and the out of town location gives it a far more relaxing air.

Dongqian actually consists of three lakes, with the North Lake the pick of these. Small villages, temples and even a Song dynasty sculpture park are nestled between mountains and the lake's shores.
A quiet road runs the circumference, making it ideal for a run or bike ride.

Heading out to the mountain ranges from Dongqian Lake beyond Hengxi in Zhejiang, also called "Zhe" for short which is located in the East of China. With Shanghai and Jangsu in its North, Anhui and Jiangxi in its West, Fujian and Zhejiang in its South. Zhejiang Province, on the whole, a mountainous province, mountains and hills accounting for 70% of the total area of Zhejiang, and generally higher elevations west and south. It has a long history of planting Chinese tea trees. Tea is the leading and sustainable development agriculture in Zhejiang. Zhejiang is also the main green tea producing area in China. Zhejiang carried out natural and organic tea project in order to improve tea quality. Zhejiang established tea business relationship with nearly 60 countries in the world. The main tea it sells to these countries are Gunpower Tea and all kinds of famous green tea. Zhejiang became the biggest place all over the world for producing, processing and exporting green tea.

Being a province with a lot of ancient villages and old towns, Zhejiang is endowed with abundant cultural and historical heritages. It is in this very place that the traditional Chinese culture is well-preserved without the steady stream of tourists...

Tasty and excellent food during the farewell dinner from Zhejiang province at Park Hyatt Hotel Ningbo (Seafood House Chinese Restaurant)....

Overall excellent days riding the twisty tarmac roads sand offroad trails, definetly making my way over to Zhejiang province again soon during 2017....


Also known as Duanwujie, Dragon Boat Festival is a holiday of eating sticky rice dumplings, drinking realgar wine (a mix of huangjiu and regular minerals) and racing (or watching) dragon-shaped boats. This year the holiday period in Mainland China = Sunday 28 to Tuesday 30 May, with Double Fifth day itself falling on the Tuesday.
Now celebrated worldwide, Dragon Boat Festival’s humble origins date back to southern China over 2,000 years ago. As with all great legends, the facts are largely contested, vary from region to region and come heavily embellished. One of the best-known stories holds that Dragon Boat Festival commemorates celebrated poet and minister, Qu Yuan (343-278 BC).
The story goes that Qu was betrayed by officials, accused of treason and exiled from the kingdom. After wiling away years in exile, Qu threw himself in a river as a form of protest against the corruption of the time. Upon hearing the tragic news, villagers loyal to Qu went in search of his body, splashing their paddles, banging drums and throwing sticky rice balls into the water in an attempt to keep the fish well away from his body. Hence today, Dragon Boat Races and the rice-heavy snack Zongzi.
Eating Zongzi is one of the customs during the annual Dragon Boat Festival. The pyramid-shaped sticky rice parcels wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves are tasty enough without any fillings, but one can add sweetened bean paste, fresh meat or egg yolk.
If heading to the actual race events and squeezing in with everyone else is too much work, celebrate the festival by eating the iconic Zongzi. Like mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival (but tastier and not re-gifted as often), this is the traditional snack for Dragon Boat Festival.
While countless regional variations exist, the foundation of these 'sticky rice dumplings' is glutinous rice packed around a savory or sweet filling like pork belly or red bean, then wrapped with bamboo leaves. Though available all-year-round, in the weeks leading up to the festival you'll see an increase in street stall steamers full of the pyramid-shaped treat. Stacks of them (Zongzi) at any water town around the greater Shanghai region.

Traditional Dragon Boat Racing during Duanwujie ~ what's on the Dragon Boat for the racing?

Dragon’s Head
The auspicious dragon. Dragons are obviously popular in Chinese culture, and understandably so: they’re symbolic of power and strength and they’re masters of the water – as well as just about everything else. In dragon boat racing, the dragon’s head is more of a ceremonial adornment, added for festivals. Before the race begins, the dragon’s eyes are dotted with lucky red paint, to symbolise the dragon coming to life.

A key player in the race, the drummer is essentially the pulse, riding in prime position at the front of the boat. He or she overlooks the paddlers and maintains a steady drumbeat to help paddlers keep the pace and stay in sync.

Depending on the size of the boat, the crew is usually made up of ten to 20 paddlers, sitting in two rows, paddling in unison to propel the boat through the water under the watchful eyes of the steersperson and drummer. Not to be confused with rowers, paddlers face forwards and use paddles, not oars, obviously. Paddlers at the front of the boat set the pace, while paddlers at the back are used for strength to keep the speed up, especially in faster waters. And paddlers wouldn't be much without...

Some people say that the paddles are symbolic of the dragon’s claws, wading through the water. Different from oars, paddles are not connected to the boat in any way and are in total control of the paddler.

No surprises here, the steersperson is in charge of steering during the course of the race, using the sweep oar. As the only one who can really see what’s going on outside the boat, it’s also the job of the steersperson to alert the crew to any signs of danger or potential collisions. So no pressure or anything.

Dragon Boat Racing, if you’re looking to get in on the action yourself while around Shanghai (China), the Shanglong Dragonboat Club (Shanghai) welcomes newcomers and paddlers of any background throughout the year = http://www.dragonboatsh.org

Short promotional video (2016 by Thoi Teresa) for those never seen or been at a Dragon Boat Racing event...

Skipped the usual PRC national holiday crowds, went trail riding and "greenlaning" around some of Shanghai's nearby watertowns...
Life is an adventure, having motorbikes to get out on somewhere is a real great enhancement to my days. I like to get on one of my bikes, leave the house and if for a day trip I'll just go whichever way I turn the handlebars. Before I leave I'll know approx. what time sunset is just so I can be home before. At some point Ill turn on the GPS and hit the way towards the home-base. I'll pay attention and adjust my return home route based on the arrival time displayed on my GPS. If an overnight or multi day trip I may put in certain benchmark / stopover locations and still let the GPS arrival time function help me decide if I want to ease along for more sightseeing or step it up to arrive while there is a bit of daylight involved. With the Baja Design LED lights, sunset is not quite the defining moment it used to be while out and about on the orange hooligan bike must say'....


Battle of the Water Towns around the greater Shanghai region ~ Ever wondered which water town is really the best?

Wuzhen ~ What’s it like? Split into two sections – east and west – Wuzhen is undeniably pretty, but it’s also one of the most commercial and tourist-filled towns on this list. The west area is supposedly best at night when the lights come on, though in the day time it’s just as picturesque. The east part, meanwhile, features a smallish park and regular kung fu performances from several retired gentlemen atop a boat. Both areas are based around one long stretch of canal, each with narrow lanes either side. The town is most famous for being the former home of Chinese literary great Mao Dun.
Manageable on weekdays, Wuzhen is incredibly claustrophobic at peak times. Limited to the two sections, tourists are funneled down into the same main streets with few chances of escape. A free open air cinema screening old black-and-white Chinese films on a wall in the west area (9-11pm, daily) provides some rare respite, but generally it’s hellish at weekends. Wuzhen’s beauty is also its downfall, causing steep entrance prices and overwhelming tourist crowds. Although it’s bearable on weekdays, at weekends the frustration of fighting through the tourists makes it hard to justify a trip.

Qibao ~ What’s it like? When it comes to water towns nearest to Shanghai, it’s hard to beat Qibao for convenience, located as it is on metro line 9, though this is probably its only real advantage. With just a couple of small old streets left and a serviceable canal area that runs for a mere block, Qibao doesn’t boast as many photo opportunities as places such as Zhouzhuang or Wuzhen, but there is a pleasant temple and a tiny shadow puppet theatre that are worth visiting.
Given the lack of options for wandering, avoiding the crowds at Qibao is tricky. Come on a weekday, though, and you’ll find it manageable. Qibao is fine for an hour or two, but it’s not the most authentic water town experience around.

Zhouzhuang ~ What’s it like? Zhouzhuang is one of the country’s oldest water towns and, according to posters plastered throughout the streets, sees itself as ‘China’s number one water town’. Unfortunately, so do the tourist groups, meaning it’s one of the busiest water towns in the region. It’s a shame, as Zhouzhuang is certainly one of the prettier sites in the area, and one of the larger ones too, though there’s little to see off the main T-junction of waterways at the town’s centre. Various Qing and Ming dynasty residences are dotted around the town, though the real beauty of Zhouzhuang is in the dozen or so stone bridges that cross the water (provided they’re not packed with tourists). Even on weekdays, Zhouzhuang gets busy, with few places to escape the hordes herded down the main streets by flag and megaphone-wielding guides. The 900-year-old Taoist Chengxu Temple provides one of the few spots for respite, though even this can become crowded at peak times. It’s pretty, but the tourist crowds and commercialism are relentless, even on a weekday

Xitang ~ What’s it like? Xitang is one of the more attractive water towns in the region, presumably the reason Tom Cruise and co chose to film the roof-hopping scene toward the end of Mission Impossible III here, but that also means tourists flock to it. Other than photos of Cruise with smiling locals dotted in various restaurants, and a big picture of him looking all action hero-like beside a stone bridge, there are thankfully few references to the film. Nine rivers criss-cross the town, with regular stone arch bridges and narrow lanes either side of the waterways, which are prettier than most. Busy on weekdays, Xitang is overrun at weekends – megaphones and matching caps abound. Undeniably picturesque in terms of its layout and architecture, Xitang is another water town that has become a tourist trap, meaning that taking in the beautiful scenery is usually punctured by someone elbowing you out the way to get to the stinky tofu stand.

Tongli ~ What’s it like? Tongli is one of the smaller water towns, centering on a main junction of canals and arched bridges, but it has some unique attractions that make it worth a visit. Waterside cafes, tree-lined streets and a boat of cormorants kept for the tourists mean that it’s a photogenic place – but one of the main motivations for visiting Tongli, and what made it stand out from the myriad water towns surrounding Shanghai, was the only China Sex Museum (closed during 2015 ~ yet to reopen somewhere).
On weekdays, Tongli is pleasantly empty. Weekends naturally see larger crowds, but generally the pace is slower here than in other water towns. The traditional scenic part of Tongli is relatively small, yet it doesn’t feel as bustling as other water towns.

Zhujiajiao ~ What’s it like? Zhujiajiao’s mix of bridges, canals, wood-panelled buildings and narrow lanes is fairly standard, but it’s nonetheless attractive. The Qingpu town has an appealing combination of accessibility and places to escape the crowds. The town is centred on a large main canal where you’ll find the longest of its numerous bridges, Fangsheng Bridge, which is also known as ‘setting fish free bridge’ – for a few kuai you can buy a goldfish to release into the water (they’re fished out again a little way downstream and resold).
Zhujiajiao’s accessibility from Shanghai means that it’s a tourist favourite, but in its favour the town offers more escapes from the crowds than the average water town. The whole town is worth exploring, with numerous side streets to avoid the tourists, and a number of kooky cafes to hide in. If you decide to stay for the evening, open air Kunqu opera performances and classical music shows taking place every summer. It may not be as spectacular as some neighbouring water towns, but the mix of accessibility, no entrance ticket and cool cafes to escape the hordes mean that Zhujiajiao is still a worthy day trip.

Nanxun ~ What’s it like? Although much of Nanxun itself is a grimy industrial town, and some of the water town area has succumbed to the tourist tat virus, large parts of it are green, peaceful and filled with locals relaxing (and not trying to sell you anything). The best part of the water town area is the south-west, where you can escape the crowds on even the busiest days and find trees arching over the peaceful water – we like the tranquil Little Lotus Garden, a grand former residential house with a small lake at the back, and the Jiayetang Library, home to a large collection of ancient tomes and tree-covered grounds, where locals sip tea and play cards beside the water. Nanxun is absent from the main tourist trails, making it pleasantly light on megaphones and matching baseball caps. You’ll still see the odd tourist group, particularly in the southern part of town and at weekends, but it’s a far cry from tourist traps such as Wuzhen. With charmingly rustic residential streets and relatively few tourist trappings, Nanxun is our new favourite water town. Just get there before everyone else does.

***various watertown pictures below in no particular order***


Working on one's bike is also the gift that keeps on giving, there are many zen-like moments to be had just focusing on a bike repair, modification or just some maintenance ~ ~ few personal tips and tricks below...

KTM450EXC, got it all sorted now for long distance touring with the installation of the Acerbis 3.2gal. tank, Akrapovic Titanium slip-on muffler (remap), Clake SLR and a Globetrottin' luggage rack.

Looked at the cheap universal MIC = Made In China fuel tank sock filters (not impressed on material and most probably fitment issues), got some KTM-EXC (2016) fuel tank sock filters by Profill - Australia.

Couple of month ago installed the Clake SLR (hand & foot dual rear brake control).
After extensive testing, brilliant setup going around the asphalt twisties and during offroading ~ right turns are great fun now as foot stays in position on foot peg or easily extended for the "slide" or real technical sections...

Love doing my own bike work and maintenance, DRC wheel balancing and truing stand (Gyro Stand), works brilliant and easy as for maintenance with the earlier mention spoke torque wrench by Warp9....

Having a few sets of reusable spoke weights on standby if needed but fine for now...

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