On with the adventure; a night in a hotel in Xiewu (room: £8) and we were back on the road. In sunshine we crossed a mountain pass and rode downhill straight into Sichuan province. Unfortunately, on the county border, the road quality went steeply downhill too! After much bumping rattling and swerving of pot holes, we made it to Serchu Dzong, with its imposing monastery complex. Another night, another cheap hotel (no heating, no running water and a drop toilet…again). We cooked breakfast on the windowsill and spent the morning wandering around the massive monastery, poking our heads into the brightly coloured prayer halls and watching the monks scurry around on their daily business. For once there was an equal amount of starring going on, as the crimson cloaked monks seemed just as fascinated by us as we were by them.
After resting for a couple of nights at a hotel in Qilian we were ready to start our ascent on to the Tibetan plateau. Unbeknown to us at the time, it was actually the last proper town that we were going to see for quite some time, so it was just as well we had a rest day (to recover from our previous bike pushing/trekking marathon) and get fully restocked – especially with porridge for breakfast as bread was no longer readily available. Unfortunately, the whole town was being dug up and rebuilt, and power cuts were frequent – in 2 days there was only 3 hours worth of electricity! It must have been a regular occurrence as the hotel instantly provided candles and the town hummed to the sound of power generators that ran outside every shop. This lack of electricity and thus lighting, might have been the reason why Tim found a plaster in his evening meal at a restaurant. It must be hard to tell the differences between finger and pork when chopping in the dark!
The bikes outside a cafe – after a ‘lucky-dip’ on the mandarin menu, we ended up with scrambled egg soup! Continue reading →