Arrived in Lhasa !

Posted in China at 12:53 pm by Administrator

Email received this morning – Oc 31,2009

Ahhhh, relaxation in Lhasa after some monumental passes and lots of remote ks ridden. We made the mistake of climbing too fast and as a result we all had some nasty head aches and really struggled with the first 4 to 5 days of riding. After I started to feel worse we rushed down to an elevation of around 4000 masl (haha). From then on things started to feel loads better and we’ve started to get much stronger. The view up at Rongbuk monastary of everest is undescribable. I grogily made my way to the loo one morning and nearly fell over when up and realised through the sleep fog where I was. WOW. The sky here has been so amazingly cloud free for the whole trip. That explains the painfully cold nights and the beautiful afternoons. The mornings riding starts out at about 830 or 9 am when the temp has got up to minus 5 or so and with all the layers of clothing appropriate. By the afternoon we’ve lost at least 4 layers each and are riding comfortably in shorts.
The western part of our journey was in some really out of the way places. Most tourists that come through fly through the country in 4wds and miss all of the little towns but on a bike we can’t get further and so we’ve found ourselves staying in some “rustic” situations. dirt floors aren’t uncommon and we’ve been eating in the communal kitchens with the families that own the guest house. The western part of tibet is extremely undeveloped. The only power in any of the towns is for 3 hours a night from solar batteries and plumbing is non existent. The toilet facilities available have been the most horrific that I’ve ever experienced and so we’ve often waited until a few km down the road to relieve ourselves. That tibet is the real tibet though and its been fantastic to see. Once we crossed teh 5240m Thong La pass we came into the other tibet. The tibet that the chinese have developed. The people living there have living standards that are amazingly higher than the rest of teh place but their culture is not anywhere near the same. Its a trade that I suppose is being made all over teh world. I still like the idea of keeping the culture but I’m feel that I’m a lonely soul in that when it comes to a global picture. How many people really want to leave someone in squalor if thats the way that the person has always lived? One disappointing thing is that all of the kids in the remote villages have at some time learned that foriegners are a source of money and so the first reaction of most of them is to stick out a grimey hand and ask for money. The closer to Lhasa that we get the less that happens but the whole thing spoils the interactions with those people. The ones that hadn’t learned that we meant money were great to joke and laugh with and we learned loads from them. We stayed a night in one monastary that was founded around 600 ad and had some awesome fun with the monks trying to learn about the place and swap stories (language barriers included).
I’ve also said a lot about riding up the passes and while we spent some days gaining more than 1600 vertical metres we’ve also dropped the same amounts. The friendship highway (so propaganderously named) is brand new for most of teh way and so dropping down the far side of a pass on perfect new road way is SOOOOOOOOO good. Cam and I hit 85 km/h the other day and have touched 80 a few other times. Nic likes to take it a little more sensibly and so has only been getting into the 60s but the first big drop of 15km and 1.2 vert km put smiles on that lasted days.
Anyway I’d better leave things at that. We’ve got a few more days here before saying goodbye to Cam and hitting eastern tibet so I’ll write some more soon.

I figure that I should also add that we’ve come to a bit of a hard decision but we are also going to have to call the journey to an end at Hanoi. Consistant niggling injuries are starting to take their toll on us and because of the fact that we’ve already had to miss a large section due to politics its no longer about riding the whole way. We’d probably try to push through if it was about finishing the whole thing but instead we have decided to save ourselves the anguish and to come back and do the sections that we can’t do now in the years to come. As a result we’ll be back in Aus for Christmas and resting up for the New Year.

Well I’ll write again soon.


1 Comment »

  1. mia said,

    November 15, 2009 at 2:13 am

    what an awesome journey you’ve had so far – never feel you’re cutting it short of not doing ‘enough’ because it’s what worked out exactly as you thought it would – it’s an amazing accomplishment!


    Hope to see you both over Summer x

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