Monday, February 7, 2011

The lone Penang cyclist - Lim Chee Loon

Lim Chee Loon aka Ah Loon who wants to cycle from Penang to Shangri-la, China.

Who is Ah Loon? Penang lang lah, a ex-student of Chung Ling High School. I met Ah Loon at Li Teik School, Penang, talking with him as he shared his plan to cycle from Penang to Shangrila, China. I just come back from Shangri-la last December 2010, and had been to Laos and Khorat. I was able to share some traveling tips to him on Yunnan Province, China and Laos.

He will cycle alone from Penang, crossing Thailand, Laos,to Shangrila, China. I have been to Khorat(Thailand),Laos and Shangrila, China. The road from Penang to Bangkok, Bangkok to Nong khai(Thailand/Loas) border should be nice for cycling. From Nong Khai to Vientiane should be alright, but from Vientiane to Boten(Laos border town), Mohan(China border town) to Shangrila, it is a mountainous region, and may be challenging.

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The journey from Penang-Thailand-Laos-China

Familiar road of own country, and some cyclists will accompanying him until Hatyai.

Penang - Alor Star
Alor Star - Padang Besar

The coastal road of South Thailand and road in Khorat(Isan) is good and flat, with beautiful view. There are towns and city along the road.

Padang Besar to Hatyai
Hatyai to Bangkok
Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat) — largest city of the Isaan region
Khorat to Khon Kaen. The highway from Bangkok ends here
Khon Kaen to Udon Thani
Udon Thani to Nong Khai

The cycling in Laos will be tough due to poor road condition in hilly area, and the region is remote and not populated. Moreover he will face language problem. This is the toughest of the whole journey.

After crossing Thai border over to the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to Vientiane, Laos; the road is still alright. There are human settlement along the road, and it is easy to obtain the necessary supplies for daily needs and repair if need arise. But from Vientiane to the Laos/China border, the road become rough, and human settlement along the road may be some distance away. This is the toughest journey for Ah loon to travel alone. Moreover Ah Loon will be having problem of language barrier, unlike Thailand, where English or Chinese still can apply at the city, Ah Loon can only use his Mandarin in capital city of Vientiane, where there is still some Chinese community in the city. It will be minority, mainly Hmong (Miao) tribes all the way, unless Ah Loon can speak Thais, there may be some communication, as Thai is similar to Laos, but minority will have their own dialects. Ethnic Lao, the principal lowland inhabitants and politically and culturally dominant group, make up the bulk of the Lao Loum or lowland Laos, which is around 68% of the total population. This group are the branch of Tai people, which include Tai of China, Thai of Thailand, Shan of Burma, Laos of Laos, Ahom of South East India. Laos language is a tonal language of the Tai linguistic group, which include Thai language. The Lao Theung or Midland Lao are largely of Mon-Khmer stock, which consist of 22%. Lao Soung or Highland Lao are the Hmong and the Yao, the remaining 9%. The 1% left are the Vietnamese, Chinese and others.

The highways in Laos have improved in the past ten years, but the fact that 80% remain unpaved is a telling statistic. Still, the main routes connecting Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet are now sealed. If you travel on your own...there are very few proper bike shops outside of Vientiane but also for bikes with 28 inches wheels you would have a hard time. The cyclist need to bring own equipment and make sure to obtain contact details to a supplier maybe from Thailand (Bangkok). The next city is Luang Prabang, which is 218.75 km or 135.93 miles away in Northern Laos.

Vientiane - Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang - Boten

Vientiane to Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is on Highway #13 between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. It is a small riverside town in Central Laos. The ride to Vang Vieng is flat and one of those great little stretches where you can take a gentle pace, stop and chat with the locals over a meal of rice and fruit and feel good on a bike. There are no difficult mountain stretches and the scenery is beautiful.

From Phonhong (route 13) to Luang Prabang, it's hilly all the time. Phonhong is the cpital of Vientiane Province.

Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang, also Luang Phabang, Luang Phrabang and Louang Phrabang is the former capital of Laos and a UNESCO World Heritage city.It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province.

Luang Prabang to Louang Namtha/Bosten
Muang Xay (Lao: ເມືອງໄຊ) is a capital city of Oudomxai Province, Laos.

Oudomxay or Oudômxai (Lao: ອຸດົມໄຊ) is a province of Laos, located in the northwest of the country. The province capital is Muang Xai.

Louang Namtha (Lao ຫລວງນໍ້າທາ, literally "Royal Sugar Palm" or "Royal Green River") is both a province of Laos and the name of the provincial capital, located in the north of the country. China's Yunnan province in the north-east with the border crossing at Boten. Boten is a small town in northern Laos, sitting on the banks of the Mekong River. It is off the beaten track, enjoyed mainly by backpackers and intrepid travelers. It is the home of a Chinese-Lao border crossing so it sees a fair bit of through traffic.

The cycling in China should be nice, as Ah Loon will not face language problem, the only challenge he will face is possibly altitude sickness in the mountain area. If he can manage the altitude sickness, there should not be problem as condition of the road is good, except tunnels near border area.

Mohan(磨憨)- border check point at Laos/China border.

Mengla(勐腊) is a city in Xishuangbanna, a county under the jurisdiction of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China. It is located near the China-Laos border in Southern Yunnan. This is the first big town/city for travelers arriving from Laos. It is 60-75 km from border town of Mohan.

Jinghong (景洪) is the capital of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan. jinghong is 120 km from Mengla.

Puer- Pu'er City (普洱市) is a prefecture-level city in Yunnan Province, China. The urban administrative center of Pu'er is Simao District, which is also the former name of the city itself. Pu-erh tea is a major product from this region.

Yuxi - Yuxi (玉溪) is a prefecture-level city in the Yunnan province of the People's Republic of China. The administrative center of Yuxi is Hongta District. Yuxi is approximately 90 km south of Kunming.

Kunming - Kunming (昆明) is a prefecture-level city and capital of Yunnan province, in southwestern China. It is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government.

Chuxiong - Chuxiong City (楚雄市) is a county-level city and capital seat of the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China. Chuxiong is about 127 km west of Yunnan's capital city of Kunming on highway GZ65.

Dali- Dali City (大理市) is a county-level city in Dali Prefecture or Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China. The new Dali city is actually called Xiaguan(下关);only the ancient city is called Dali or Gucheng, it is also call Daligucheng(大理古城).

Jiangchuan- Jianchuan (剑川) is a county in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture located in southern Yunnan Province, China.

Lijiang (丽江市)- is a prefecture-level city in the northwest of Yunnan Province, China. Lijiang City is located in the northwestern portion of Yunnan and borders Sichuan. It is in a region where the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau converge.

Shangri-la(香格里拉) - It is the city in Shangri-La County, a primarily Tibetan county in northwestern Yunnan Province in southwest China and the capital of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The county was formerly called Zhongdian County (中甸县 Zhōngdiàn Xiàn) but was renamed in 2001 after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel Lost Horizon, in an effort to promote tourism in the area

The flag off

Ah Loon will depart from Penang on 12-2-2011 at 5.45am from Gurney Drive, G Hotel. G Hotel is located at 168a Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town.

In conjunction with the above event, a simple flag off ceremony will be held at the following :-

Date : 12/2/2011 (Saturday)

Time : 5.30am

Venue : G Hotel Main Entrance

Breakfast will be provided by G Hotel for 70 pax from 5.00am.

A convoy of cyclist will be accompanying Ah Loon all the way to Hatyai, South Thailand for the 1st leg ride. Penang - Hatyai ride (total distance 243 km), Ah Loon will not be alone in his journey in Malaysia.

If you want to support Penang lang, please go to Hotel E on 12/2/2011 morning.

We are very proud of him as Penang lang to take up the challenge, to prove that Penang lang bolih.

Even he will be traveling alone, but the concern of his friends and family, and all the Penang lang will be with him.

Best wishes to Ah Loon. Jia yu...

For readers who want to follow up on the latest development of the cycling journey, you can read the Sin Chew Daily or website of his cycling club - G Club at with the title "Ah Loon Updates".

Ah Loon is also cycling for charity, if you are interested to sponsor his journey. The bank account is CIMB 0713-0080930-522 under his name. Suggest RM100 for 10 km, it is hope that the whole distance of 4,000 km will be fully sponsored. The fund collected will be donated to charity in Penang.

Updates 25/5/2011

Ah Loon will be completing his trip to Shangrila soon, he is now at the final leg of his ride. We have not read anything about his trip in Sin Chew Daily, and finally today there is an article about him. It is good news that he is going to complete the last leg. It is difficult to get internet contact with social media like facebook or skype or even your private blog, as some of the social media are ban in China. Facebook is ban here, the only contact is your e-mail. Line may be difficult from Dali onward as the area is at the highland. The same problem with Lijiang, which is at higher gorund, Shanggrila will be worst, at the border of Tibet.....

The actual journey done by Ah Lone

Flagging off Penang to Hadyai on the 12 Feb 2011, 1st leg of Ah loon Shangrila ride.
Ah Loon(in the center) surrounded by friends and members of Gclubs.
12 Feb 2011, 1st day in Hadyai, South Thailand
13 Feb 2011, 2nd day in Ranot, South Thailand, via Songkla, along coastal route 408
14 Feb 2011, 3rd day in Nakhon, Si Thammarat South Thailand
15/16 Feb 2011, 4th and 5th day in Surat Thani, South Thailand & more photos
17/18 Feb 2011, 6th and 7th day in Chumphon, South Thailand & more photos
19 Feb 2011, 8th day at Bang Saphan, South Thailand
20 Feb 2011, 9th/10th day, arrived at Prachuap Khiri Khan
21 Feb to 1 Mar 2011, 11th day in Bangkok
2 Mar 2011 20th day in Saraburi
3 Mar 2011 21st day in Sung Noen
4 Mar 2011 22nd day in Chatturat
5 Mar 2011 23rd day in Phu Khiao
6 Mar 2011 24th day in Nong Bua Lam Phu
7 Mar 2011 25th day in Viang Chan (Vientiene)
10 Mar 2011 28th day in Vang Viang
15 Mar 2011 33rd day in Luang Prabang
16 Mar 2011 34th day in Pak Mong
19 Mar 2011 36th day in Udomxai
20 Mar 2011 37th day in Mengla, China
21 Mar 2011 38th day in Jinghong
24 Mar 2011 in Kunming..
(lost contact...)
6 Apr 2011 in Lu Feng
7 Apr 2011 targeting Chu Xiong
16 Dr Lim, Lee and group of cyclist cycling from Lijiang to Shangrila with Ah Loon...

Related articles

1. Going far for the Befrienders,
2. Cyclists endure gruelling ride to raise awareness for Befrienders,
3. Custom pannier rack for Ah Loon,
4. A Slow Bike To China , by Wayne & Kristina Carpenter,
5. Challenging China – Boten – Mohan, Mengla & Jinghong, by Chris Leakey,
6. Sin Chew: Ah Loon’s ride to Shangri-La,
7. 展開檳城―香格里拉4千公里腳車之旅‧阿倫單騎尋夢去了!,

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