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Dumplings, Trees, Pol Pot & Going Walkabout; The Blogs Of The Bamboo Road

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As the riders and staff taking part in the 2017 Bamboo Road Cycling Expedition from Shanghai to Singapore apply for visas, purchase or tune-up their bikes and dream of what to expect of their 86 day, 7,300km ride across South East Asia, we thought we would look back on our favourite blogs from each of the 8 countries (plus Hong Kong) that the route passes through.

China – Good Eats!

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“To start the day off you may begin with a simple congee, a rice pudding, jazzed up with meat, fish or vegetables, or perhaps just on its own for those looking for a more gentle start for the taste buds. A beef broth soup with noodles or dumplings is another classic at any hour of the day. Dumplings made fresh at the table next to you or noodles stretched or sliced minutes before they are served is a delicious hearty meal you can be sure to find in even the tiniest of cook shops. Fried rice, pickled veg, fried eggs, steamed greens, spicy noodles, and sticky buns. Then there’s also the Chinese baked goods, or perhaps better describes as steamed or fried goods. Soft steamed buns filled with anything from steamy hot pork and broth to a sweet bean paste.”

Hong Kong – China, but not really China

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“After weeks of riding through China’s interior where foreigners seldom reach, Hong Kong was a culture shock in seeing multitudes of tourists from all over the world. After riding in China, getting to know Chinese cuisine and familiarizing themselves with the variety of dishes, riders were suddenly overwhelmed with food options from all over the world catering to Hong Kong’s international population. Many riders used the rest days in Hong Kong to take the tram up Victoria Peak, take the ferry over to Kowloon, or wander the happening streets of SoHo.”

>>Learn more about the 2017 Bamboo Road

Vietnam – The Trees of Hanoi

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“What helps make the city so ‘cool’ is the incredible canopy of trees that covers the city, some 30,000 by the latest estimate, many over 100 years old. Figs, Sau, Bang Lang, Bohdi, Banyan and surprisingly Khaya senegalensis, which was brought by the French from West Africa populate the streets. Even in the busiest areas, huge trees rise up from the broken sidewalks, shading the population from the sun’s intense power. Additionally, they suck up at east some of the immense amount of pollution that the city’s traffic produces. nd the local population loves them. Earlier this year city bureaucrats unveiled a plan to cut down about 20% of them, citing their age, disease and inappropriate aesthetics. A social media protest soon forced them to delay the plan ‘for further study.”

Laos – Lovely & Laid Back

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“Don’t get me wrong – Vietnam was amazing – beautiful and friendly – but as soon as the tour crossed over into this country, this achingly beautiful land, you could feel the change in the air. Vast expanses of land were unpopulated. The general noise level dropped dramatically. On the crowded Vietnamese roads, our support vehicles were always speeding past other cars, trucks and scooters, honking continuously, always trying to get ahead. In Laos, our new drivers were content to sit peacefully behind each and every truck, no matter how empty the road. Whereas the Vietnamese tended to smile immediately, the people here seemed neutral, withdrawn. That is, until you made personal contact and then a huge, genuine, mischievous grin would appear.”

Cambodia – The Dead Kennedys, Pol Pot & Angkor Wat

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 “I have been lucky enough to return to Cambodia yet again in 2015 and what I have found makes me smile. To see a country that was utterly destroyed by a crazed ideology, that started to rebuild less than a generation ago from essentially nothing – no infrastructure, no public institutions – as it is today is quite amazing. I sat in a restaurant overlooking the Mekong River one Saturday evening in the small provincial town of Kampong Cham and watched as young Cambodian couples, clad in jeans and fashionable dresses drew up in front of me on their scooters, pulled out their iPhones and texted their friends to arrange where to meet for the night. After chatting briefly with each other, they smiled, started their engines and drove off into the night and into their country’s bright future.”

>>Learn more about the 2017 Bamboo Road

Thailand – Soaking Up the Sun

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“Fortunately, the Bamboo Road’s route balances the goal of experiencing some of the beaches and jungles this area is known for while still incorporating the backroads and small towns that dot the peninsula. Most days of riding take us down rural roads where families run tiny convenience stores out of their front porches and then those rural roads funnel into larger roads near the end of our day dropping us off in a scenic beach town. Although these towns feel busy in comparison to the small villages we pass through during the day, they offer great chances to lay by the pool, take boat tours to local islands, or sample fresh seafood at beachside food stalls. With so many ways to relax in Thailand our only worry is making sure we can still get back on the bike after a day at the beach.”

Malaysia – Magnificent!

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“After visiting the first five countries along the route of the Bamboo Road, riders may have naively thought they had seen (and tasted) it all. However, just when the group was becoming comfortable with spicy chilies, the sunny beaches and the ever-present signs of Buddhism, the route entered Malaysia. Instantly we could sense countless differences from all of the previous places we had been, just with the crossing of a border. One of the first contrasts the group noticed upon entering Malaysia was the diversity of the country. Although Malaysia is a mostly Muslim country, there are strong communities with followers of Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism among many other religions.”

Singapore – Going Walkabout

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“So the tour had ended but I still had a walkabout planned for a city that has quite a reputation. Singapore is a rather innovative place, a city that also imitates and borrows ideas from other urban places. What can I say about Singapore? Wow. What a place. What ambition! What audacity to reach for the skies, to think you can create a clean, wealthy, modern, functioning city that keeps its focus on the future while providing good, reasonably priced public transit, numerous wonderful and free public spaces and takes the well being of all its citizens into account? Incredible!”

>>Learn more about the 2017 Bamboo Road


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