In 2011, together with 5 other friends, my wife and I went 2 up on the triple black to Yunnan Province, China. That journey took us till Shangri La County. The experience and scenery was really spectacular back then. However, our China guide casually mentioned that the views in Tibet and Xinjiang were much more stunning than what we have seen. That comment triggered the desire to find out how amazing the view is as how a local claimed. Yunnan was enchanting but I was determined to see China's best.
As soon as we completed our adventure in Yunnan, I started some sketch of plans on my next ride. Xinjiang seemed far fetch initially, but after few weeks of close study on the map, along with the countless emails exchange with our China fixer, I figured out 42 days should be sufficient.
Having had one riding experience in China and the costs involved, I knew that keeping the group small will result in having to pay a ridiculous amount of money. Well, if it is low cost to ride in China, Boten immigration would have been busy with riders from south. So i need to be realistic on the cost requesting the Chinese fixer every single breakdown of what we are forking out for.
And so...the search for riders with similar passion began.
Taken at Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China in 2011
Plenty of meetings were held. Initially we set on the number of participants to 12. Soon enough all 12 places were rapidly filling up . In the meantime, plenty of emails and phone calls were conversed with the Chinese fixer on the routes to be taken. Midway through the planning, a couple of riders expressed great interest to join the adventure. However, these riders could not afford to spare 42 days of leave. Thus, the entire plan was revamped with an additional 8 riders.
A new route was then planned. The entire group will ride from Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos-Yunnan Province-Sichuan Province-Qinghai Province-Xinjiang Province. The initial 12 riders will ride from Golmud to Kashgar via the Southern Silk Road to Karakoram Highway-Kashgar-Urumqi -Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu while the other 8 riders will break away from Golmud and head on to Lhasa-Tibet-Everest Base-Kathmandu.
As the fixer set on the dates for the documentations to be submitted, the team got around on countless of meetings and discussions on logistics and working out on the cost.
We also got around approaching distributors who's caught huge interest in our run and offered significant knock off rates in support of our expedition.
The countless gatherings, mass orders of parts and essentials, visits to embassies, delegation of tasks, application of necessary documents and at the same time shuffling with day time job that we are holding, There was never a single session where all the riders were present in any of the meetups. Not until the last gathering which was 5 days before departure. That night, our good friend, Danial Hakim, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph each and every rider.
It's amazing to see these 20 enthusiasts of different professions and backgrounds coming together shedding differences in sync for one big journey together. This an exceptionally big group for me as I normally prefer to travel in smaller numbers.