Made it to Mengla, about 45km north of chinese border. On the road at 0745. Followed hwy 3A which linked up with hwy 3 - another great smooth winding road around the mountains. Mostly comfortable 5% grades with some steeper 10% ones but not too many. Arrived at Boten - which is the border town on the Laos side 1145, got my exit stamp and proceeded on to Chinese border town of Mohan. There is a bank at Boten but for some reason they didn't want to change my money, so I went to some shopkeepers and got a few yuan (chinese currency) before going on. The Lao border town is nothing special but does have some basic accomodation and restaraunts. The chinese border town has more facilities. The chinese border was deserted and laid out like an airport security check. Just had to fill out an entry/departure card - using an automated computer - one of the guards did it for me, was very quick. I was asked what my mode of transport was twice by two different guards and when I said bicycle, neither flinched. I was expecting a bit of a kerfuffle like the embassy back in Bangkok - but no, got my entry stamp and I was in! It was 1215, so decided to push on to Mengla - about 45km on - it was too early to call it a day, was feeling strong, besides I have alot of ground to cover here so can't afford to take it too easy. Just followed the main road (1x1 with 1m shoulder) little traffic, although shoulder had alot of debris - no glass just stones and sticks. Smooth bitumen with linemarking, gradients were comfortable around 4%, tunnels have been punched through the mountains ( I went through 4, no more than 400m long each but no shoulder) here so no need to go up and over them like in Laos. Superb mountain scenery continues. Rolled into town at 1415. Stopped at small store to buy a drink and the lady didn't want my money! Very surprised with her generosity - wasn't expecting it - most of the chinese I encountered in Malaysia and Thailand weren't so gracious - hopefully a sign of things to come. The second bottle I insisted on paying though. Went in search for some accomodation  - alot of chinese characters but some english as well. Found a place within half an hour - have to negotiate on price. Communication will definately be difficult here as not many people seem to speak english. The phrasebook I bought is coming in handy though and has seen plenty of use already. I'll have to learn some common phrases here. In Thailand and Laos I managed to get by using very little of the local language. Changed some money at the bank which charges 50Y commision if you change anything less than 500USD (quite big as I only paid 40Y for accomodation, oh well) Western style stores here, cool electric motor scooters and tuk tuks, girls with short skirts and high heels, river of sewerage running through town with veggie patches in the middle, haven't seen any tourists yet. Found some markets where I had a simple meal of steamed rice, pork with veggies and sauted cabbage. Quite a happening place, people eating out, flashing lights, stores with loud speakers out front pumping out the music, cars honking. A bit of sensory overload at the moment after laid back Laos. I can't believe I'm the only tourist here with so many people - this is just a small town too. Can't get onto facebook, tried two different internet places but is blocked for some reason. I think their running pirated software here so can't get passed security measures. I'll be heading north from here towards Kunming which is about 650km away.

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