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World Tour 2008 - Week 02 Chapter : 19 May ~ 25 May 2008




Welcome to the Week 02 Chapter of the GlobeRiders World Tour 2008.


On every tour that GlobeRiders conducts, you can count on days that are very good, just good, and there will always be days that are not so good. It is like the old saying about eating chocolate every day and you will not really enjoy it that much. I think after this week is over the group is definitely ready for some sweets coming their way.


Last week I talked a little about the problems we had with getting the permits to travel in China. Well, one of the conditions to do this ride was that the group would collect the bikes 300 kilometers to the west of the Capital. In a bus, the whole group traveled to Shanhaiguan, waiting for the bikes that were to be cleared by Customs in the port city of Beijing, Tianjin Port.


As you will see from this Week's entries, this did not really work as we had hoped.


The adventure most definitely has begun, enjoy the stories.



Best Regards,

Helge Pedersen,

Founder - GlobeRiders, LLC



Day 09 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Michael A. Jones


Thoughts from the road, or bike, or is it a bicycle? Yes it is from a bicycle that I tour this wonderful seaside town in China. This town called Shanhaiguan on the Liaodong Seaway..Far far away.


Yesterday, I toured the Great Wall, where the mountain meets the sea...No one was there, just a small crew of people. I was on this wall with no one around. I spent 5 hours hiking to the top of Yiahan Mountain, which is a mountain formed in the Jurassic period from Vulcanism and intrusion of Granite into a sedimentary layer, uplifting the sedimentary, and creating very rugged mountain tops.


I can see the town and the sea from this vantage point. You can walk to the high monastery where some of their rulers were sent to gain knowledge and strength. You can imagine what it must have been like 800 years ago sitting on top of this mountain. I then ascended the mountain and got on some of the original Wall. I did not realize until it was too late that I had accessed the wall where it was not open...Great vistas and a wonderful hike down from the mountain...It amazes me that such a wall could be built 800 years ago..


The bricks they built back then are actually stronger than our kiln-fired bricks of today. This was on some TV show I watched. I finished this day off by riding 6km back to town on my bike, and then just started touring the town...Every little path goes to wonderful places off the street. Gardens as far as you can see, irrigated plots, construction projects everywhere and people working manually on all sorts of construction. I think most of them work the fields during the day and at dusk come and work on the public works projects which are in the town...(just my assumption)


I buy two Black Beers, that is what they are called, and joined our group for an evening meal where we all share our journeys of the day. We are all in good spirits and look forward to hitting the road. I believe we can see a faint light at the end of the tunnel for getting Customs and the Police to cooperate with our plans. I am off for another day of discovery.





Michael Jones




Day 11 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Michael A. Jones


Today in China was more than I ever expected...I started the day early with a brisk bike ride to the Sacred 5 Buddha mountains. I took many pictures today because of the beauty of this new park. Outstanding in my opinion.


The scenery was of rough Granite intrusion mountains leaving almost vertical canyon walls. This park has some caves, and walks which are just world class. The road which is throughout this park is brand new and in great condition. Please check my pictures for today which will highlight the Five Levels of Heaven which are little areas they call heaven and up up just sheer cliffs. They have put in very good trails and stairs to get you to the top. Quite a hike, making me very sore and tired tonight.


We have news we will get our bikes to ride tomorrow which has really boosted everyone's spirit. It has been hard to stay in this town without the bikes, but I must say this one town has tremendous attractions and I am almost glad we were stuck here for 3 extra days...


Tomorrow is promised to be an easy day. It will definitely be easier than pedaling a bike for many miles everyday. I know our team leader Mike Paull will be very tired from his efforts in getting our bikes.


I would like to thank all of the GlobeRiders for their outstanding efforts to date.



Michael A Jones




Day 13 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Dan Townsley




A planned couple of days in Shenhaiguan have turned into a week. Having the bikes delayed longer than expected has been stressful to the whole group but we managed - as is required of World Adventure Touring folks. A week in a relatively small city requires you to seek out and engage. We were not constrained to the Hotel, which was a good thing, and whether it was buying a bicycle and exploring for miles at a time or walking from one end of the city to the other and back, everyone found interesting diversions. Haircuts were had and there was even the trusting head shave with a straight razor. Several day outings to Nature Parks, Buddhist Shrines and the Great Wall were welcome diversions.


Mike Paull and our local China Guide, Sim, were consumed with getting our bikes not only through Customs but also through the process of obtaining our License Plates and Registrations from the local Tianjin Police. This took three days of full time attention. But Mike will, I’m sure, give you some insight into Chinese Customs processes.


From one ordeal to another these first two weeks have been, well – educational. The bikes are on their way to us but had not shown by noon on Sunday. Our guide, Sim, decided to scout out a place where we could unload bikes from shipping containers without the need to a traditional Loading Dock or Crane to put them on the ground (we were a bit skeptical of the plans we were given by our shipping agent. Good thing as those plans didn’t come to fruition. The containers did finally show and we did have a place to “unload”. Since I was busy unloading, I didn’t get any pictures but as you most likely see from one of the other stories we did get them unloaded and on the road finally.


Finally on the road with a modified schedule we are all anxious to start our five day blitz through China to the Sino-Russian border.



Dan Townsley




Day 13 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Mike M. Paull


It's Day 13 of the World Tour 2008.


If everything had gone according to our thoroughly considered plan, one based on the experience and knowledge gained from seven previous tours in China, we would be riding today through Inner Mongolia to the city of Yakeshi, within striking distance of our border crossing into Russia and the vast expanse of Siberia.


The Chinese people are wonderfully superstitious, and at some level, believe in omens good and bad. Given the "omens" we've experienced so far, had I been born into this ancient and honorable culture, I would, at this very moment, be trading in my "Guide" hat, shaving my head my head, and become a wandering monk instead.


Although the end is in sight, if GlobeRiders were to publish a revision of Helge's seminal book "10 Years on 2 Wheels", a more appropriate title based on the start of this tour might be "10 Days on 4 Wheels", "2 Weeks on 2 Feet", or "How I Spent My Vacation in a Seedy Hotel Room in Shanhaiguan".


Blame it all of the falling dollar and the Beijing Olympics 2008. Weeks before the tour began, we had a momentary panic - due to the fall of the US Dollar against any foreign currency that matters, US products and goods were shipping out of the country as fast as containers and shipping could be found. Our outbound container shipment was delayed by a day, as both containers and port services in the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma were scarce.


Several weeks after the freighter sailed, although we had specified a direct route to Tianjin, we were informed that the vessel instead made a port of call in Hong Kong, and that our shipment would thus be delayed by, as it turned out, almost a week.


Once the container did arrive, the "bad joss" of The Olympics took over. Because of security concerns surrounding The Olympics, and a bout of governmental tit-for-tat due to increasingly stringent requirements imposed by US Customs and Home Security for shipments arriving FROM China, our shipment of bikes TO China kicked-off a round of nightmarish bureaucratic "procedures" that would put any other nation's process and hidebound Customs despots to shame.


As noted in a previous story, based on a good outcome in 2006, we thought we had the admittedly complex process of clearing one container from Seattle, and second from Kobe, pretty much figured out. This year, we used the same brokers and agents as before. The Olympics threw all of this hard-earned experience and know-how out the window and we (and apparently the Port and Customs officials here as well) had an all-new learning curve to deal with.


As I recounted in the Week 01 Chapter, due to The Olympics, all other permits for motorsports tours and expeditions in China had been revoked, except ours. Even ours was modified; rather than riding from Beijing, we would have to start our ride 300 kilometers away, from the city of Shanhaiguan, the 3rd city on our original itinerary. Knowing this, we added another tour day in Beijing, then rented a bus to take everyone to the intermediate stop in the Mountain Villa and site of the Imperial Summer Palace, Chengde. Thus began the saga of "2 Weeks on 4 Wheels".


From Chengde, our bus took the group to the city of Shanhaiguan, the required 300 kilometers from Beijing and a straight coastal shot for the trucks that would bring our containers from the Port of Tianjin. Our freight agent assured us that everything would be OK.


By Friday of last week, the containers had not been released, and Customs was closed over the weekend, but our agent assured us "everything would be OK Monday". Believing this, and because our driver had to return, we gladly said our goodbyes to the bus - and our story morphed into "10 Days on 2 Feet".


Monday afternoon came, and still no release on The Containers. No longer trusting the "any minute now" reports from our agent, I asked Dan to stay with the group, and our local guide, Sim, our driver and I headed out for the long trek to Tianjin first thing Tuesday morning. What followed was 2-3/4 days of paperwork and process hell, most of it spent standing around in the heat, pollution and humidity of endless expanses of freight yards, or cooling our heels on benches outside of offices.


To be fair, most of the people seemed to just be "following procedures", many of them invoked for the first time due to . . . The Olympics. What made it painful was one slovenly Customs Revenue officer, unshaven, shirttails of his filthy shirt hanging out of his wrinkled trousers, who obviously had it out for the entire world, and may he receive his just reward of the eternal fires of damnation for making the lives of all he came into contact with as miserable as possible.


In gratifying contrast, the other Customs, Police and Quarantine officers were polite and helpful. Every time one of the containers was opened, the yard workers would shout out exclamations of envy when the contents were unveiled, and rushed to take turns sitting on the last bike loaded. Movers and handlers were pulled from other activities to re-stage our containers as needed, and the containers were lifted, moved, and grounded with precision and care.


Yesterday, working against the deadline of Yet Another Friday in Tianjin, surrounded by billboards and festive fluttering flags splashed with the interlocked rings of The Olympics everywhere we looked, we finally received our Delivery Orders and Gate Passes, our "procedures" were over.


It's Saturday morning here in Shanhaiguan. On the very day that we expect to receive our bikes, the first real rain we've seen in China is falling. After two hours of trying to contact our freight agent (may he also join Mr. Customs Officer from Hell in The Eternal Fires), we've been informed that, due to accidents, a general diesel shortage throughout China, and road construction delays, our trucks had to turn back from their intended route, and find an alternate way further inland. They're now expected to arrive sometime "around noon". It's 11:17AM, and still no update.


We're now solidly entrenched in "How I Spent my Vacation in a Seedy Hotel Room in Shanhaiguan". Bereft of our bikes and with a continually contracted itinerary ahead of us, our riders are understandingly frustrated and concerned. Having been a GlobeRiders client myself, and having taken tours with other operators, I’ve been on both side of the fence. There's a reason we don't qualify just anyone with the money and riding experience on our adventures, it takes a special person with the flexibility and fortitude to deal with the delays and the unexpected.


Certainly, every rider here has earned his and her gold stars for patience.


Note to self, in China, “there shouldn’t be any problems” really means “there are many problems”.


I’ve quoted this before, but a saying here bears repeating, “In China, anything is possible, nothing is easy”.



The Adventure Continues . . . .






Day 13 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Mike M. Paull


From reading the stories I have posted to this Live!Journal so far, you'd think we were freight expeditors, and that this tour had nothing to do with motorcycling, touring and travels at all.


If I never seen another container again, it will still be too soon, but yet again, I have yet another story "freight and logistics".


Once we had our containers released from Customs, the plan was to have them driven the roughly 300km from the Port of Tianjin, to the seaside town of Shanhaiguan, where an understandably anxious and frustrated group of riders was awaiting delivery of their bikes.


I gave explicit instructions to our freight agent to insure we had cell phone numbers for the truck drivers, and that I wanted a status call at 7:00AM. I also made him promise that he would find either a loading dock, or construction site with a crane that could offload the container to the ground so that we could roll the bikes out. Finally, on four separate occasions, I made sure he understood that we needed a set of bolt cutters to cut off the tamper-proof seals that I had applied at the Port.


As usual, he failed utterly in every respect, but the group rose to the occasion, and wrote a new chapter in the GlobeRiders Handbook of Adventurous Field Expedient Container Unloading.


The trucks were hours late, and no arrangement had been made to offload. Fortunately, our local guide Sim, now wise to how flakey our freight agent really was, had gone out with our two chase and guide vehicle drivers to find somewhere to offload. The best they could come up with was, a couple of grass-covered dirt berms, the remains of an abandoned construction excavation project, off to the side of the local highway out of town. They guessed well, the height of the berms was almost that of a commercial loading dock.


When we finally got a call from the drivers, I sent Dan and Harrison out to oversee the unloading. By the time I got there, the 20-foot container from Seattle was already off-loaded. I was stunned at how "rural" the offload site was, but obviously, the guys made do with what was available.


However, the truck backing the 40-footer container immediately got stuck in the soft dirt. With bald tires and a single driven axle, it immediately got bogged down, and like all lousy drivers everywhere, spinning up the drive wheels only dug a deeper hole.


Harrison to the rescue! With his logging and heavy equipment experience, he knew just what need to be done. After letting the truck driver have a go at it (total failure), he directed truck #1 to turn itself around, get some traction on the highway surface, strapped the trucks together, and pull truck #2 free. He then had truck #2 back in to the berm at a different location, flatter ground, but more of a slant on the berm, which meant the container's edge wouldn't be as close to the "dock" as we would have liked. Having encouraged the driver to put some more throttle into it, the driver complied, and literally rammed the trailer and container into the berm, crushing one set of tail lights and bending the whole undercarriage of the trailer.


Even so, there was still to large a gap, so our local drivers started carting rocks up the hill to act as filler. Long story short, with Dan taking charge of the "roll-out", the remaining bikes made it to Terra Firma.


Given that we were on a major road, all manner of vehicles, bicycles, tractors, pedicabs and taxis started pulling over, parking, and just "standing by" to watch the process, shouting out encouragement and stocking up a thick cloud of cigarette smoke in the process.


Our truck drivers beat a hasty exit, and we finished strapping on our gear just as the police showed up.


We’re on The Road at last!

Best, MikeP (happily leaving Shanhaiguan)




Day 14 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Michael A. Jones


May 24th


What a extremely exciting and scary day. Riding in China is just about as wide open racing as I have been in. You are constantly passing slower traffic which might be a slow truck, a donkey cart, a motorcyle with three people on it going about 29 mph, etc.


People break down and just leave their truck in the road for repairs. We were in a force time frame to make up time from the days we lost, so we did not stop except to get gas and eat....We did not stop for any pictures which I really wanted to.. We saw mile after mile of rice patties and farmers out in the fields tending the rice.


May 25


This day seemed to go easier. Perhaps it was we are now getting more in a grove and have determined where we want to ride with the group. I amazed at this group of riders. Everyone rides very well and we overcome many passes and stops alone the road...


This day is actually hot and sunny and I am wondering where all the heat came from..Mike Paull had the misfortune of being pulled over by a police man but was let go after some discussion of what we were doing and where we were going. Soon after that Mike had flat tire on his side car . We start all of wondering if we are going to make up the time today. We really get to rolling on the tow roads in the afternoon. .


We pull into the town of Harbin in the late afternoon and are met by the Harbin motorcycle club who are bike lovers. They escorted us to town and gave us the royal treatment. Everywhere we stop the bikes we encourage a crowd of people which are just all over you. We stay at the Swan Hotel in the middle of Harbin.


Very interesting day.


Michael Jones




Day 14 - 19 May ~ 25 May 2008 - Shanhaiguan, China - Harrison & Debbie Christian


How we spent our days in Shanhaiquan...


We walked a lot. We found a great pizza place. "Best One Pizza" made sure that there was plenty of Black Beer when we showed up. The pizza was good and the decor was festive. Went to a beautiful park and explored. Discovered a less touristy part of the Great Wall and met some nice Chinese students who always gave us their cell phone #'s because we were now friends. We walked the back streets, wandered food markets and clothing vendor stalls. You truly can find anything you need in China.


Harrison had his head shaved and Debbie had her bangs cut (Chinese funky!) all for the price of $1.25 each. All in all, the delay, although frustrating, was actually a good thing. How else would one get to intimately explore a virtually unknown Chinese town. A passing gentleman actually exclaimed to me in passing "Hi! I see you day before!" I almost felt like a local. It was good to get the bikes.


Harrison was in his element and helped get the unloading job done. When we finally got going there was a great sense of relief. It was a real learning curve to experience the city traffic in Shenyang. We arrived after dark but intact. Harbin. Harbin motorcycle club escort in and out of the city. Debbie felt like a mix between rock star and queen for the day. Pictures may explain. All we can say is that we can't wait to return!! Debbie was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and we were asked to autograph cars, motorcycles and leather vests.


Harbin to Daqing City. Very cold (38 degrees), heavy winds and pouring rain. Scenery was still stunning and we are so sorry to have missed the photo op of the biggest load of logs we have ever witnessed. Onto the border town of Manzhouli. Picture Disneyworld cross dressed with Las Vegas in the middle of eastern Washington. I think it took apx. 12 hours to get through the China to Russia border ordeal. Thank goodness for Sim, our Chinese guide. Thank goodness for Mike's patience and "don't worry, I've been here before" mindset.


Our first impression of Russia was unsettling after the hustle and bustle of China. Dark, dismal and very poor. Armed police guarded our bikes in one of their garages. Hmmmm........what lies ahead??????


Harrison & Debbie Siberia May-2008


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