China Motorcycle Diaries: altitude sickness at 5000m

Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:41am EDT
 
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By Farah Master

SHANGHAI (Reuters Life!) - Circumnavigating China's vast landscape on motorbikes was never going to be easy.

But being stuck 4,800 meters above sea level in a remote part of central Tibet with altitude sickness and an empty gas tank was one of the last things Ryan Pyle expected to happen.

Pyle, a Canadian-born freelance photographer, along with his 29-year-old brother Colin, a former forex trader in Toronto, set off from Shanghai in mid-August on a trip aiming to showcase China as a destination for motorcycle tourism.

But during their 19,000-kilometre, 65-day journey that passed through Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Dandong, near the border of North Korea, the unexpected became part of their daily routine.

Despite traveling on sturdy BMW F800GS motorbikes, the terrain and freak weather made it often impossible to cover the 200-300 kilometers needed per day.

"It was so much harder than we expected," said Ryan Pyle, who spoke to Reuters after arriving back in Shanghai in mid-October.

"We traveled through several hailstorms, a blizzard and sub-freezing temperatures on the border of Pakistan, altitude sickness at 5,200 meters near the border of China and India, then torrential rains in Southern China," the 32-year-old said.

A documentary film is in the works about the brothers' epic journey, with a book to follow early next year. See www.mkride.com for more details.   Continued...

 
<p>Canadian brothers Ryan (R) and Colin Pyle, pose for a photograph during their motorcycle journey around China on the Highway G219, also known as the Aksai Chin Highway, in Tibet Automonous Region September 17, 2010. Circumnavigating China's vast landscape on motorbikes was never going to be easy. But being stuck 4,800 metres above sea level in a remote part of central Tibet with altitude sickness and an empty gas tank was one of the last things Ryan Pyle expected to happen. REUTERS/Handout</p>