By Bill Pratt
We retrieved the motorcycles from Chinese Customs and found a new surprise. The China Police late in our planning would not allow us to ride the motorcycles out of Beijing. Apparently there was a fatal motorcycle accident just a few weeks earlier and they now wanted us to depart from Xian. We were to ship the motorcycles by plane to Xian and take an overnight train to meet the bikes. Our agent in Beijing measured the boxes and gave us the bad news. Our agent in Seattle contracted for crating the bikes. They said they were experienced and did this kind of work all the time. However, transshipping from Beijing to Xian required smaller crates, as they were too large for a plane. We then had to contract for shipment by truck and arrange air travel for the Dragons. This extra expense did not dampen or spirits. Randy Hoskins and Su Zhi Wei accompanied the bikes on a 24-hour drive to the Capital of China. Thank you again for saving our butts. While in Beijing we got our Chinese drivers license, motorcycle plates, health exam (boy was that fast) and smog emission inspection. All the hoops were jumped through thanks to our agent and sponsor in Beijing. Whenever there was a hassle, it was immediately fixed by the hard work of Rusty and Su Zhi Wei. Another big thanks to our team members.
Upon arrival of all the Dragons and the motorcycles in Xian, the next step was to uncrate the bikes, assemble and gas them up and ride them out of town. One thing we found was the KLR650 needs more than a gallon of gas to run. Rusty did not quite get enough gas and he required some help. We pulled up to a busy motorcycle shop where there was a small crowd hovering around some broken bikes. They dropped everything to see the big bore bikes and the strange looking riders. Within minutes one young fellow diagnosed the problem…no gas. They poured in another gallon and Rusty was back in action. There was a requirement for us to be out of town before dark. We complied.
The Honda Trans Alps were shipped from Southern China to Xian in pieces. A motorcycle mechanic assembled the bikes, tested them and wished us well. I was impressed with the ingenuity required to get these bikes into China. There is a 250cc limitation for motorcycles. The 400cc Hondas required extensive political maneuvering by Su Zhi Wei and Dong. They pulled it off and were able to register the bikes and obtain Chinese license plates. It is all very complicated, but at this point we are ready to hit the road and start our journey to Kathmandu.
The Honda motorcycles were shipped to Xian in parts, wrapped in old clothes and labeled as machine parts.
Dong looking at candles during one of our Xian walking tours. I think he was saying a prayer asking for a safe journey.
Ó Copyright, Bill Pratt, Mill Creek, WA – March 2001