Dec 3, 2011
Cycling to the Dazu Rock Carvings
After discovering the ease of camping anywhere in China last weekend. Andrew and I made a plan to cycle to one of the main tourist attractions in the province of Chongqing. The Dazu rock carvings are found in several sites around the province but the most famous sections of carvings are found 15km northeast of the town of Dazu on Boading Mountain.
Saturday morning we enjoyed a little lie in. As we were getting ourselves prepared for our bike tour, our first adventure of the weekend was an unexpected power outage at 8:30am. Lucky for us our stove tops still worked for our regular eggs, potatoes, veggie scrambles and the elevators were still functioning. We live on the 23 floor and it would have been a long walk down with packed paniers and heavy bikes...
We departed our apartment in Yongchuan at about 9:30am. It is about a 25km cycle to a town called Youting. Nothing too exciting to report about the town other than it was where we needed to catch the road north to head to Dazu. The road from Yongchuan to Youting was the old highway basically paralleling the new toll expressway. It had some scenic farmland, rolling crop terrain, enough twists, turns, and hills to keep it interesting, and wasn't too full of black fumed trucks.
From Youting to Dazu the road is fairly flat and straight with lots of small shops and farm homes. There is no shoulder but the cars are used to people walking and slow scooters on the street; big vehicles honk and just go around you. It took us about 3 hours to get to Dazu. We found the center of town and had some hot noodles for lunch, the man serving us was very friendly and of course curious about us and our bikes. It is about another 12km to Boading mountain. The cycle from Dazu to Boading was pretty along a two lane road. The last 3.5km was the toughest climb of the day but still nothing too harsh. About 400m before the gates we had spotted a potential camp spot by the highway across from some buddhas.
Boading is a little village in itself created for tourists as it is full of tourists shops and restaurants. December 1st is the beginning of low season and the ticket prices are cheaper. It was 90RMB for visiting the rock carvings and another 10 to look at a temple.
A problem with bike touring is that the paniers are not designed to be carried when not attached to a bike. Our paniers were full and heavy and we did not want to leave them on our bikes nor did we want to carry them with us. Dilemma! Our first attempt at asking to store our paniers we received a very firm NO...then eventually after numerous attempts of asking people a very nice woman working with decent english allowed us to stash our paniers by the ticket booth! Hooray!
The rock carvings are very cool. There are large and small carvings, some in caves, some in color, some with broken off faces and some in a newer state. We thought it was something different and worth seeing for us! After checking out the carvings and temples, we perused the tourist shops and had some noodles and dumplings for an early dinner. There was no bubble tea to be found so we settled for a tea house and some green tea.
About 5:30pm we were tired and dusk was setting in so we were back on our bikes and back to the spot we saw earlier. On our way Andrew spotted some typical chinese steps on top of the buddha cliff. We parked our bikes and went to check it out. We found a sweet little spot free of vegetable growth on top of the buddha cliff. We tried to sneak our bike and sacks up but we think we were spotted by an old lady across the street.
We set up camp, and enjoyed the scenery and serenity of the place until dark fell upon us. We went to sleep nice and early and quietly. Unfortunately, for us it rained pretty solidly throughout the night. We stayed dry but it is a good thing we were only camping for one night as our tent and sleeping mats got soaked! As we packed up and headed down the cliff at about 7:30am in the dark mist an old man across the street up for his early morning smoke came over and seemed confused. We tried to smile and act nice but really could not communicate. We escaped on our bikes and rode away in the mist and down the mountain towards Dazu for breakfast. We made it back to Yongchuan, wet, dirty and smiling in time for lunch!
Having two days of about 4 hours of riding has been nice. We have been keeping fit but haven't been doing long days of activity lately and it is nice to know we haven't lost too much of our ultra endurance fitness as it is my favorite kind!
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