Sunday, November 6, 2011

HimalayasX2011, Western China Expedition supporting IDEAS & ETE [stage one, Urumqi, Tian Shan Mountains, Taklamakan Desert, Karakoram, Himalayas]

  • Between 2008-2012, I have accumulated thousands of kilometers and hours 

    exploring the South Korean peninsula. Although politically and geographically land-

    locked between North Korea and the turquoise waters of the northeastern Pacific 

    Ocean, I've successfully completed numerous cycling adventures in South Korea

    as well as, independent expeditions across western China and Outer Mongolia

    Looking back to 2009

    From Gangneung City, Gangwon-do where I live with my family, I have ridden to 

    Busan, Gyeongsannam-do Province (5 times in 2009 alone, 20 days, 2000km) 

    meeting other cyclists while out riding. 

    have bicycled from Seoul to Gangneung through Seoraksan National Park.   I have 

    cycled from Seoul to Andong to Daegu, I have cycled from Ansan to Daecheon Beach 

    Boryeong and Byeongsanbando National Park. I have cycled many places in between 

    on simple bicycles.

    I have cycled on Deokjeokdo Island,  I have competed in the Korea Randonneur SBS 

    (Seoul-Busan-Seoul) 1000km, 75 hour bicycle endurance race (finishing 478km in 26 

    hours*), I will return to the event in 2012 and make a second attempt.

    Pursuing an interest in cycling and promoting the activity here in South Korea, I have 

    built a website dedicated to Cycling in Korea, it's called the Korean-World.

    Every month, approximately 3000 international guests visit this adventure blog, 

    enjoy free updates about adventure cycling, expeditions, all packed with ideas to 

    launch other expeditions.  I intend to share all this information and links to many of 

    my favorite blogs, linking other explorers and adventurers free of charge.

    Details of the expedition, HimalayasX2011:

    3200km/1800miles by bicycle, 500km by hitchhiking, 3240km by standing-room only train*, 1028km bus*

    7968km of extreme travel with a bicycle, train, bus.

    I encountered local cultures, languages, food, transportation and used old paper maps as navigation.

    This was not an expedition about crossing the longest distances (world circumnavigation riders have done all that). 

    Body weight:  before expedition= 95kg.   completing expedition= 70kg.

    Objectives of this expedition were about:

    *learning to document expedition travel in a journal
    *learning to record video and photos that can illustrate, as well as educate from life experiences on the road 
    *to experience places that I have seen through maps; 
    *to experience some of the world's best desert highways, mountain routes while challenging the terrain, climate,
    topography and elevations (above 4000 meters) 
    *learn to ride a bicycle self-sustained for an extended journey without ride support, backups, or sag wagons.
    *to raise awareness of several, non-profit organizations
    *to build networks with other explorers and share 
    *to prepare for future expeditions 
    *to live to face my inner fears, overcome physical and mental challenges and
    to live my dreams while on an independent journey.

    Travel Route:

    Starting from South Korea, I crossed the Sea from the Incheon ferry terminal on a 

    passenger ferry to Tianjin (30 hours), after I cycled through Beijing, visited the 

    Summer Palace and Forbidden City, and Chairman Mao's mausoleum, and made new 

    friendships with many Chinese and found help from other international people while 

    visiting the capital of China. 

    I bought a train ticket for Urumqi, Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region and stood 

    with my bicycle for 36 hours (3240km), the overcrowded train ticket cost 50,000 

    Korean Won, an alternative to a 1,500,000won flight to Urumqi airport from Korea. 

    Finally, I arrived at the start of the cycling expedition, Urumqi, Xinjiang/Uyghur 

    Autonomous Region of western China. From Urumqi, I immediately started out cycling 

    in the open desert highways. 

    From the city of Urumqi, you enter the Borohoro ranges of the Tian Shan Mountains, 

    these high deserts contain rivers winding through the giant sand colored mountains, 

    complete with camels walking these tracts, both roads and rivers to the locals.

    After crossing the Tian Shan ranges, it's desert again in continuum. I managed to ride 

    the G314 Karakoram Highway which runs parallel to the original route still used by 

    locals, a bumpy route, but not the worst in the area. 

    Along the highway, there were long stretches without settlements or villages.

    If you needed water, it was best to ask passerby's on the highway, which is why I 

    stayed close to this route.

    I met two Chinese friends before crossing the Tian Shan, and I promised to visit their 

    families in Korla, this happened to be a great diversion for the expedition.

    More deserts and finally the oasis that is Korla, a mixture of Uyghur and Chinese 

    cultures, a mixture of foods, music, languages, and development projects, a new and 

    old city, modernizing in China today.

    Once the weekend passed by in Korla, it was a long ride back to the Tian Shan, to 

    reach Luntai. This is the last official Uyghur settlement entering the Taklamakan 

    Desert (455km after Luntai/552km from Luntai to Mimfeng). 

    The exit to the Taklamakan Desert was reached in 5 days, 552km, 6 pieces of Nan 

    bread, 1 bowl of noodles (cooked at a well station), oatmeal, raisins, apricots, H2O

    It doesn't take much to cross the desert with only a small food supply, it's definitely 

    enough. It's hot and dry, it requires patience and planning to be out in the sun, or 

    taking cover under a sign post in the middle of the day, under a survival blanket on 

    the side of the road, sleeping in a pump station, or napping under the sunlight on the 

    side of the road, which road was it? 

    The Tarim Desert Highway was built and maintained by Sinopec and China Petro, and 

    the purpose to keep the oil coming out of the ground. 

    There are 108 wells across 552km of the Taklamakan desert, although the water 

    causes bowel irritation (nothing stays inside believe me, this would explain the small 

    ration of Nan bread), H2O provides basic hydration. 

    The Taklamakan Desert is a relatively flat landscape, but you will ride over rolling hills. 

    At night, the sandstorms would whisk across the desert floor and flat treacherously 

    against the thin walls of the tent. 

    I enjoyed my time in the desert, and went on to ride the G315 Southern Silk Road,

    through some amazing villages and towns along with the Uyghur cultures that have 

    flourished there since centuries ago.

    After Yecheng, I leave civilization and the G315 and follow the S219 towards the 


    This section of highway had all disappeared into a collosal road construction project 

    when I arrived here, I navigated on the stone and dirt tracks, dodging transport 

    trucks and heavy machinery run by sun-baked road construction workers. 

    Everywhere along this route was dusty, dry, but the people I encountered were 

    friendly. Further up in the mountains, I hitch hiked with mining workers and spent a 

    night sleeping at their camp. I repaired my rear wheel, already cracking from the 

    elevation changes, hard road conditions, and weight of the panniers.

    As I reached the Himalayas of Xinjiang Province, China on my own, it was one of the 

    greatest moments in my life.

    The expedition continued from Cudi Mountain of the Himalayas to Kashgar, where I 

    flew out to Chengdu, Sichuan Province to begin the second stage of the expedition. 

    Independent travel has been restricted in Tibet for many years, making the journey 

    either dangerous or illegal according to the Chinese officials that govern there. 

    The HimalayasX2011 expedition was completed in less than 60 days
    , an independent 

    expedition, self-supported and self-sponsored too. The expedition wasn't about 

    setting a world record for cycling, it was intended to become an educational journey 

    supporting several non-profit foundations that are involved in community 

    development, good will missions, and charity.

    While living and teaching English in Korea, cycling has become more than a hobby, it 

    is a living adventure that is continually growing and challenging me.

    Brian Perich - Explorer, Adventurer, Teacher, Father.

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

Thanks for visiting my Journal from Asia

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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