Posted by: aasingapore | September 28, 2009

22 to 24 September – Bangkok

The participants were at Southeast Asia’s shopping and fashion capital, Bangkok, Thailand, from 22 to 24 September. AA Singapore’s CEO, Mr Lee, also joined them for dinner on a cruise on the Chao Phraya River!
A group shot with Mr Lee @ Grand Mercure Hotel

A group shot with Mr Lee @ Grand Mercure Hotel

The participants with Mr Lee during dinner on the Chao Phraya River cruise

The participants with Mr Lee during dinner on the Chao Phraya River cruise

The scrumptious buffet spread on the river cruise

The scrumptious buffet spread on the river cruise

And they say, the night doesn't end when dinner does - party!

And they say, the night doesn't end when dinner does - party!

Another great place of stay for the participants...

Another great place of stay for the participants...

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Posted by: aasingapore | September 24, 2009

21 September – Vientiane to Bangkok

Inching closer and closer to home, the participants crossed from Vientiane into Thailand, via the Lao-Thai friendship border. Here are some photos; enjoy!
A group photo before leaving Vientiane 

A group photo before leaving Vientiane

Some information about the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge

Some information about the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge

The convoy at the Laos-Thailand border at the Friendship Bridge

The convoy at the Laos-Thailand border at the Friendship Bridge

Participant Mr See with a Singapore-registered BMW bike

Participant Mr See with a Singapore-registered BMW bike

At the Nongkhai Customs at the Thai border

At the Nongkhai Customs at the Thai border

The convoy on the Friendship Bridge, going into Thailand

The convoy on the Friendship Bridge, going into Thailand

Welcome to Thailand!

Welcome to Thailand!

Posted by: aasingapore | September 24, 2009

19 & 20 September – Boten-Luang Prabang-Vientiane

On the journey into Luang Prabang, one of the participants had a little trouble, and it required the help of AA’s towing services – and a few macho men – before it got moving again…

AA towing services helping our participant

AA towing services helping our participant

Macho-men to the rescue!

Macho-men to the rescue!

When nature calls, what better way than to answer it in a natural environment?

When nature calls, what better way than to answer it in a natural environment?

Lovely roads, scenic drives; picturesque Luang Prabang

Lovely roads, scenic drives; picturesque Luang Prabang

For the record!

For the record!

The participants also got to give back to the community when they visited two villages; the Boten and the Luang Prabang village.

Giving to the community at Boten Village

Giving to the community at Boten Village

Boten villager

Kids at the Boten village

The villagers receiving little things from the convoy

The villagers receiving little things from the convoy

Bring smiles to the village; mission accomplished!

Bring smiles to the village; mission accomplished!

Reaching out to the kids

Reaching out to the kids

Finding order amidst the heaps of bags for the villagers

Finding order amidst the heaps of bags for the villagers

Completed!

Completed!

Thumbs up for the job well done!

Thumbs up for the job well done!

And they’re off to Vientiane…

To Vientiane!

To Vientiane!

Posted by: aasingapore | September 24, 2009

18 September – From Simao to Boten

The explorers are headed home-wards, and today, they’re travelling to the border of Laos. Here are some photos en-route!

The convoy driving to the Laos border at Boten

The convoy driving to the Laos border at Boten

At the Laos border

At the Laos border

And into Laos; a pretty village en-route

And into Laos; a pretty village en-route

Posted by: aasingapore | September 22, 2009

17 September – From Kunming to Simao

Here are some photos from 17 September; from Kunming to Simao.

Who dares, wins; cock fighting and betting.

Who dares, wins; cock fighting and betting.

Fruit tasting

Fruit tasting

The art of tea

The art of tea

Enjoying a cuppa at Pu Er

Enjoying a cuppa at Pu Er

Participants at the world's highest brigde in Yuanjiang

Participants at the world's highest bridge in Yuanjiang

Posted by: aasingapore | September 22, 2009

16 Sepember – From Dali to Kunming

16 September – From Dali to Kunming

As usual, we woke up at 6 am this morning, had breakfast at 7am and rolled out at 8am. The total driving distance for toady was about 400 km and we were headed to the World Dinosaur Valley. As mentioned by our Chinese tour leader, this Valley is a national tourist standard construction, science research and sightseeing location.

The Dinosaur Valley

The Dinosaur Valley

Care for a dino-ride, anyone?

Care for a dino-ride, anyone?

Welcome to the Dinosaur Valley!

Welcome to the Dinosaur Valley!

Fossil of a dinosaur

Fossil of a dinosaur

Fossil and skull of the Yuanmousaurus Jiangyiensis dinosaur

Fossil and skull of the Yuanmousaurus Jiangyiensis dinosaur

Posted by: aasingapore | September 22, 2009

15 September – To Dali

15 September 2009 – From Lijiang to Dali

Today, we drove for about 200 km from Lijiang to Dali. Dali has a long history of over 1, 200 years. Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 25 AD) had made it part of his territory, naming it Yeyu. Then, the Kingdom of Nanzhao in the Tang dynasty (618 – 907 AD) reconstructed the town from 764 AD onward and moved it’s capital here in 799 AD. This comprises the original section of ancient Dali.

There are four scenic areas in the Dali region, including the Cangshan Mountains, Erhai Lake, Butterfly Spring and other historic relics in Dali city. Among those areas, Dali city attracts the largest numbers of Chinese and foreign visitors. The Dali ancient city is widely acknowledged as the “Backpackers Paradise” in China. Foreign visitors like to stay in Dali ancient city, some staying for months or even years, to observe and study the fascinating culture of the Bai nationality. In the heart of the ancient city, it is always filled with foreign visitors, dozens of cafes, western-styled restaurants and shops offering service to foreign guests like us…

The streets of Dali

The streets of Dali

Local vendors in Dali

Local vendors in Dali

The ancient city of Dali

The ancient city of Dali

Picturesque Dali

Picturesque Dali

Locals in Dali

Locals in Dali

Posted by: aasingapore | September 16, 2009

Photos from Lijiang

Here are some photos from Lijiang, when the explorers were there on 14 September.

Locals playing a game of chess

Locals playing a game of chess

'Snow Mountain'

'Snow Mountain'

Another shot of the 'Snow Mountain'

Another shot of the 'Snow Mountain'

A local Naxi lady

A local Naxi lady

Larry with two local ladies

Larry with two local ladies

Participants Francis & Roslyn

Participants Francis & Roslyn

At the Snow Mountain Rock

At the Snow Mountain Rock

Posted by: aasingapore | September 14, 2009

11 & 12 September – Lijiang!

September 11 and 12 2009: Lijiang

Lugu Lake is located between Ninglang County in Yunnan Province and Yanyuan County in Sichuan Province, 300km away from Lijiang County. It is a plateau lake with a total area of 52 square kilometres, 2685 metres above sea level. The average depth is 45 metres, the deepest point being 93 metres. The water is very clear, and the lake remains an uncontaminated plateau lake.

The road to Lugu Lake

The road to Lugu Lake

The convoy driving to Lugu Lake

The convoy driving to Lugu Lake

Cruise on Lugu Lake

Cruise on Lugu Lake

Among the five islands in the lake, three are in the territory of Yunnan and the other two, Sichuan. Hei Wa Wu Dao and Li Ge Dao are metaphorically called “Three islands of Ponglai”, or Islands of the Immortals. Hei Wa Wu Dao sits in the middle of the lake, and it is also called “the Chieftain Island” because Ashaoyun, the chieftain of Yongning, built his villa on the island in the Guangxu period of the Qing dynasty. Rock, an American scientist, also used to reside on the island.

 

Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake

Li We Bi Dao is found on the south side of the lake, at the foot of the Lion Mountain. It is actually a small peninsular formed by the extension of the Lion Mountain into the lake.

Group photo @ Lugu Lake

Group photo @ Lugu Lake

A dozen Mosuo families live on this island, so it is possible for the visitors to experience the life on the island and at the same time enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake…

A Mosou lady

A Mosou lady

Local Mosou ladies

Local Mosou ladies

Fire party @ Lugu Lake

Fire party @ Lugu Lake

Participants taking part in the fire party at Lugu Lake

Participants taking part in the fire party at Lugu Lake

Posted by: aasingapore | September 14, 2009

9 & 10 September – Into China!

 

September 9 2009: Hello China!

 

The wake up call was at 0500hrs, and those who made it to the restaurant before sunrise were rewarded with a brilliant view of the Mekong River as the sun rose for the day. By the time I had gotten to the verandah, almost everybody was there admiring the view while waiting for the hotel to serve breakfast.

The regular morning exercise

The regular morning exercise

We stopped to refuel at Esso – the only petrol station that was not Thai – before we rolled out all the vehicles to the river barge.

The convoy at Esso

The convoy at Esso

At the Chiang Khong Thai Immigration to Laos by Car Ferry

At the Chiang Khong Thai Immigration to Laos by Car Ferry

With help from the local Tourism Authority of Thailand official, we managed to get all our passports and vehicle forms processed at the Thai immigration quickly. The barge managed to load all the vehicles, despite encountering some problems for some vehicles due to the low clearance of their vehicle.

Participant Mona Lim with AA Leader Kelvin Yeo

Participant Mona Lim with AA Leader Kelvin Yeo

The ground operator in Laos also managed to get the barge to allow all participants to cross the Mekong together with their vehicles. Normally, the procedure is for participants to cross using the traditional long tail boats, which would have resulted in everybody getting sun burnt. Today is the first day that we have not experienced any rain in Thailand.

Our Laos operator, ThongSai, managed to get all our vehicles and passports processed quickly and we spent minimal time at the respective borders. The drive through Laos was about 200km, and it took us about six hours to complete it.

The convoy at the Thailand-Laos border

The convoy at the Thailand-Laos border

Along the way, we had lunch at a hotel in Laos, called China Hotel. The new highway which we travelled on was built by the Chinese government, and the hotel was built by the Chinese and Mandarin is spoken in this town.

Lunch at China Hotel in Laos

Lunch at China Hotel in Laos

The roads are extremely hilly, and gradients are always in excess of 15%. The Land Rover Defender 90, being the only real 4×4, was able to climb the hills with minimal effort. For the rest of the convoy, it was a much slower climb and faster descent, due to less engine brake.  More torque equals to quicker hill climbs and slower descent.

When we were about 80km from lunch point, the entire convoy was starting to slow down as drivers were experiencing fatigue. It was like driving up Cameron Highlands up and down using the old roads over a period of 3 hours. By encouraging the participants to use the walkie-talkie to call out road conditions for the convoy, we managed to increase the convoy’s average speed, everybody’s mental alertness, and it was a brilliant ice breaker.  As part of the training programme, we were given an “Open Air P Stop”, to train everybody to use nature as a lavatory. The guys with the ‘SAF training’ had no problem. For the ladies, it was an umbrella parade.  We suddenly saw umbrellas of all colours being used on a bright sunny day.

The Boten/Meng La Yunan border was completely changed. All the old buildings had been replaced with spanking new buildings. The Laos immigration building is still being built, while the Chinese ones were completed in August this yea. I believe we would have been one of the few Singaporeans to use this new border crossing. Now, they have an automatic car wash, which will spray disinfectant onto our cars. Previously, this was all done manually with the same types of cans used by gardeners to spray insecticides.

From the border to the hotel, it was 50km. It would have taken a good 2 to 3 hours just over 2 years ago, and now it is only 45mins via the new highway. The Asian Highway is now completed and you can drive all the way from Singapore to Kunming. From the Boten border, it is about 700km to Kunming, or, the distance from Singapore to Penang.

Mrs Tan taking a cat's nap in the Land Rover Defender

Mrs Tan taking a cat's nap in the Land Rover Defender

The town of Meng La has changed quite a lot and it is now more vibrant than when I last passed through it 2 years ago. There are various new hotels being constructed.

The first day in China!

The first day in China!

Dinner was served at 7.30pm, and everybody had the first taste of Chinese ‘tour group food’, lot of dishes that were served at the same time. With lots to eat, we were not able to finish everything on the plate…

 September 10 2009: Yuxi to Meng La

At 0800hrs everybody prepared to roll out of the hotel. We needed to bring all the vehicles to the local equivalent of the LTA, to have all the vehicles inspected to ensure that our vehicles are still road worthy after the long drive from Singapore.

Car inspection in China

Car inspection in China

Part-time police in China

Part-time police in China

Everybody was also given a temporary Chinese driving license valid for the period of our tour. Even the cars were given temporary Yunnan plates!

Kelvin's temporary Chinese license

Kelvin's temporary Chinese license

Off we go!

Off we go!

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