Trip to Xuanzhong monastery.

Why would anybody go to this monastery, well I don't know, but the reason we went there was initiated by anders, who is, in some way a enthusiastic birder.

He new that the brown eared pheasant was living in this area, and late march, early April is a good time to spot them around the xuanshan monastery.

So he convinced me and Emma, and actually also his wife Kirsten end Pelle to join. He had to promise a trip to the nearby ancient Chinese town, Pingyao.

I then convinced John, Janet and Sidney. I agreed with John and Emma that we would bring the mountain bikes, and we would make some riding there.

Itinerary:

Friday, March 29. 2013:

We left Friday afternoon around 15 o clock. We, John, Janet, Sidney, Saki, Emma and I (together with 4 bikes), drove together in the big Mercedes van. We packed carefully, and we managed to have everything.

First small jam was a the border between Tianjin and Hebei province. I don't understand why they need a toll gate between provinces ind china, but I a also just from Denmark.
The speed was good until we hit the mountain area, where the truck was snailing uphill. In china two trucks are very good at blocking three lanes on the highway.

Well, after a small Chinese pancake stop, we arrived at Gua Shan hotel at 22:30, after 7,5 hours drive. Longer than expected.

Anders, Pelle, Anders' mother (just arrived from Sweden) was already arrived, and a beer, some snaps, herring (sild) and bread boosted the mode. After a small feast, we went to bed.

Saturday, March 30. 2013:

Anders and I agreed upon getting up at 5:30 and go for a look at the pheasants. Nobody else joined us.
So said so done. After a cup of coffee on the parking lot in front of the monastery we went chasing. Anders with his binoculars and me with my camera. Poor birds.

After half an hour searching we suddenly saw a couple on the top of a small peak. They presented them self very nicely up there, calling and making sounds. Suddenly they flew down to the open area in front of the monastery to look for, whatever pheasants are looking for.
They were no way shy, and we could get pretty close, and Anders was happy. It was a very nice morning, and we took a small hike on a closed path behind the monastery, saw the sunrise and a lot of other birds. Ask Anders their names.
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The bird, that caused the trip.

A very nice morning, spring has arrived to Shanxi province: green bushes, light green trees and white and yellow fruit trees, so nice.

When we came back to the hotel, we had breakfast with the others. Then we took the bikes and drove to the temple again, so all of us could see it.

John and I continued to, what should be a longer bike ride. But what a ride.
As we turned away from the highway we had the next 80 km on gravel roads (expect a 10-15 km downhill and a highway on the other side of the mountain), up and down, and along the lake xxxxx, very nice. And very vast and dry area, very few people and villages. And long between the water depots, so remember water. We had to ask a local farmer for hot water.
Only accidents were one puncture, and then off course Johns loss of his Hero2. It simply broke from the holder on the handlebar, damn. When we found out, we had to go back for 5 km and drive slowly, trying to spot the camera. No luck. For others, don't rely on these holders if you ride MTB in tough terrain. Secure it with a wire or similar.

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The vast land in Shanxi

Well, the ride was much longer than expected, both due to the camera accident, but also because, when i made the route in Garmin, i cut the curves quite a lot.

The last 10 km were on a very truck trafficked Chinese road, with a lot of dust, long-light on the cars. The worst part of road China. Puh. Well we survived back to the hotel, and went quickly to Pingyao, where the others was. We found a lousy western bar-restaurant. We should apparently have taken the very nice looking Chinese restaurant Emma found, but.
We were back at the hotel at 1:30, so after an active day of 20 hours for me, I was tired.

The next day we went back to Tianjin without any problems.

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Interesting what those foreigners are doing.

Thanks for a nice trip, and it was an interesting area, where they don't see foreigners that often.

Link to bike track: M CN PY Trek 1


Jim