China is kind of a surprise. As it was never really my intention to cycle here. In fact, I’d been focussed on getting to India-Nepal with my bike from the moment that I started my ride in New Zealand. To be honest, I never pictured myself riding my bike in China. I just didn’t. And if it wasn’t the case that the borders between Myanmar and India got closed recently, I probably wouldn’t even have thought about the possibility to cycle here. Not even for a minute!
As this journey is full of surprises, just like life in general is… it happened to be that the first surprise; a definitive NO-GO for a border crossing between Myanmar and India, ended up in the second surprise: me, cycling China!
I decided to change my direction, just in order to be able to continue my ride without skipping a part of the route or taking a flight…
HERE WE ARE!
And just like this whole idea of cycling in China came as a complete surprise, the elaboration of this idea would be full of surprises as well. First of all, because I simply had no idea what to expect about China. And as you travel without any expectations (or preparation) you will be guaranteed: to feel surprised. But second and above all, because China simply turns out to be: a country where you will be amazed and surprised as the surrounding will change (and challenge) each and every 100 km.
There’s no way to capture all these impressions in just a single story. So I won’t. I won’t even try. And that’s why. I decided to share with you:
A PICTURE A DAY
Just to give you a little impression of all that happened along the way. In all its beauty and its madness. In all its extremes. From cycling on the best sealed roads ever, to the worst road-contructions, from bicycle-breakdowns, to snowstorms, to new friends, from the best meals and chinese dishes ever, to instant noodles, from hot showers to no showers, from rain to snow, from cold feet and hand to sleeping inside with an electric blanket. In short, China has it all.
And it wouldn’t take long before I could hear myself thinking while riding my bike: how lucky I am that the border to India got closed. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have guessed that this is what China could be like!
ENJOY THE RIDE
DAY 1 – GETTING BACK TO LAOS, LUANG PRABANG
22-03-2017, Luang Prabang
It took me almost four days and more than 40 hours, to bus back, all those kilometers that were cycled before from Luang Prabang to Inle Lake in Myanmar. There were different type of busses to take. Of course I took the normal one. The standard one. The cheapest one. They gave me a seat in the back of the bus. They told me, it was their most comfortable seat. I looked at the seat and gave them a smile. Not sure what they mean saying ‘most comfortable’. They looked slightly surprised as this European girl joined their local transport as most tourist go for a little upgrade with a V.I.P. bus where you are no exception as a foreigner as I kind of imagined those busses to be filled with foreigners. Only. Anyway, I was not in that bus as I took the cheapest option. And so I was sitting with my knees up, in front of my face, as they had used all the space that was once ment to keep your feet, now filled with luggage and baskets, with bags of rice or whatever there was inside. No chicken. I am pretty sure there were no chicken inside. They might be on the roof. Just like my bike. But everyone was super friendly, just like the lady sitting next to me, probably my age, with her two children on her lap. Or to be precise, with her youngest child sitting on her lap, and her other daughter sitting on a big bag of rice at the place where we normally put our feet. Even though we are all squeezed next to each other, nobody seem to have a problem with that. Some people start a conversation, some people start to sing out loud. Only 8 hours to go. And as this baby on the lap of this women next to me falls asleep, slightly falling over towards me, I just smile as I realise: in Laos this is just the way they do. People are super comfortable with each other as it’s not a mater of ‘me and you’, it’s a matter of us together. And even this foreigner is fully accepted in this over-crowded little mini-bus. There was a second reason to smile, as I knew that this was going to be: my last bus for a while. Like: forever for a while. As soon as I arrived in Luang Prabang I got back on my bike. And I can tell you that: after four days sitting in a bus, it was crystal clear why that’s the way of traveling that I like!
DAY 2 – A LITTLE HAND-KISS AND A SMILE AS THEY WAVE ME GOODBYE
23-03-2017, on my way to the border to China at Boten
Three little girls, waving at me, right next to the road. They welcome me in their typical Laos-way, they give me a ‘bye byeeeeeeeee’ even before I had passed as it’s just the way they say ‘hello’. Followed by the sweetest ‘I loveeee you’ that you have ever heard, combined with a little hand-kiss from the girl on the right. Yes, you hear it right: cycling in Laos I received hand-kisses from little girls next to the road, as it happened more than ones. And I can tell you that, every time it happens, I totally melt inside! There’s nothing that can beat this little hand-kiss from this little girl. To be honest, I believe it’s the biggest gesture of love and kindness, that you can receive as a traveler, a visitor or call it a stranger in this beautiful world. And I smile as I continue my ride and I realise: this time, their bye byeeee was perfectly timed. As soon I was about to leave Laos behind. And I smile again as I think by myself: yes, this little hand-kiss is probably the biggest universal sign of love and kindness that we’ve got. So let’s use it more often. Why not? Let’s re-introduce the hand-kiss. Worldwide. As it’s such a charming and genuine way of saying hello. Yes, let’s teach all our children to give a hand-kiss to every cyclist that is passing by on their way. Yes, let’s all start today. Then little moments of love and kindness would be spreaded out in the world. And the Netherlands would be, without a question, like heaven on earth.
DAY 3 – MISSION ONE ACCOMPLISHED – THAT’S WORTH A CELEBRATION
Time for a little celebration! Today I reached the border of China. Or to be exact; today I arrived at the last town one kilometer before the border crossing to China. As I restarted my ride from Luang Prabang three days ago, I had managed to cycle the 300 km to get here in the three days that I hoped for. I’ve made a freshly new little friend, as I enjoyed my lást diner here in Laos. A special friend – my lást little friend in Laos, at least for the moment. As I am eating this big place of rice and she is enjoying her big piece of cake, I realise, yes indeed it’s worth a little celebration. A new route, a new country. I am ready to ride. More than ready to find out, what China is all about!
DAY 4: THE DAY THAT I CROSSED THE BORDER TO CHINAAAAAA!
25-03-2017, on my way to Mengla
Feeling slightly worried about the language-barrier in China I received my first sign that it would all be ok. It’s pretty much similar to the Dutch language I would say. As ‘ramp’ means ‘disaster’ in Dutch and I can tell you that: that’s exactly what the scenery looked like for the first 30 km. Due to their heavy road constructions. But hey, let’s face it from the positive way, super smooth roads of freshly made bitumen were there. And thereby, thanks to this sign, the hope that there was a chance that I would be able to find my way over here!
DAY 5: CHINESE WALL – CHECK
27-03-2017 – on my way to Menxing.
DAY 6: FEELING SLIGHTLY IMPRESSED ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE AHEAD
28-03-2017 – on my way to Jiangcheng.
Feeling slightly impressed about what might be ahead I felt challenged most of all and ready for some serious mountains. In China the real climbing would start. And not just like cycling up and down all day, but like working towards a summit, or maybe even two a day. And although this must be nothing compared to the big ones that are ahead of me, I felt more than ready to find out, what was waiting for me around the corner, and the next one and the next one. But untill then, let’s just take our time as we pass the summit, if it’s small or big, just to make sure that you will appreciate the view as you totally deserved it.
DAY 7: GIRLS ROCK!
29-03-2017 – on my way to Jiancheng
They told me: in China it will be different. The people are not as nice as they are here. In China it will be different. The people are not as open as here. They say in China it will be different. People will be loud and rude, the people can be cold. Well… they simply say a lot about Chinese, and there’s not so much for me to say about them as I just happened to ride my bicycle here for the very first days… but what I do say, and what I normally say all over the way: when it comes to children, they will be open and interested and very eager to find out, what this new stranger is all about. They might be shy at first side, but they will never miss out on getting to know you and play outside. As all the adults around were checking me out from a distance, these little heroes were sitting right next to me in five minutes. I say: well done!
p.s. And I don’t want to make myself guilty of discrimination or sexism in any way, but can you see this little boy hiding behind the rock, while the girls are taking over the dance floor?:)
DAY 8: COME IN & HAVE DINER WITH US
30-03-2017 – on my way to Lianzhu
The good thing about China, since there are so many people living here: there are many little villages and most of them will have a place to stay, as I found out today. Even though most of these villages are not even mentioned on any app or paper map. And even tough they might not be recognisable as a hotel in a first way. So how to find them? Well like you always do: you just ride your bike towards the centre of this little place and then you ask the people for a place to sleep as you lay your head down on your hand. And then you wait and look at them with a lot of confidence. As the chinese signs for a hotel doesn’t occur to me (yet) this seem to be the only way to be able to find a place to stay. And it seems to work out in China just like it worked out in many other countries before. They sure get the picture and so they pointed me to this hotel run by a family. After I put my bags in my room and my bike in their kitchen (yes that’s how we do) I take a seat in their livingroom that looks like the place where they serve food. I look around wondering whether I am at the right place, but without having the language to ask them I would say this is the right way. But then the lady of the hotel waves at me and tells me to follow her, and I end up in their kitchen, as I just got invited to join them for a diner. Like a diner with their whole family.
p.s. For those that wonder what that fluffy thing is on the bottom of the picture: it’s their dog. So far I would say that Chinese people are like the people I met everywhere and everyday. But their dogs. Well what to say.. That’s something else!
DAY 9: GIRLPOWERRRRR IS WHAT WE SAY
31-03-2017 On my way to Lianzhu
Slightly hesitating this little girl walks towards me in the early morning. I just woke up and was about to pack my bike. In fluent Chinese she start talking to me and without a question I have no idea what it is that she wants to ask or share as for me their language is still one big mystery. I look her in her eyes, try to tell her it’s all right, still not knowing what it is that’s on her mind. And then this lady that cooked me my diner last evening walks in. She wants to take a picture with you is what she says. Of course is what I say. The girl waves at her mother and then we have our little foto shoot in the early morning of this day. Thank you is what she says. Your welcome is how I reply. But wait I say, I will make you a picture as well. Beautiful is what I say, as I show her the result. And beautiful it is how little girls like her all over the world, find the confidence and the courage to walk over to a stranger without having the language, to ask me for whatever it is that’s on their mind. They asked me to practise their English, they invited me for a visit to their temple, or to their family, they invited me to their school…. And all I can say every time I meet a little courageous girl on my way is: you go girl! Whatever it is that’s on your mind – you go for it and you will be fine! One day you will be one of those strong women that we need in this world. Well done girl. You go for it girl! And as I finish the packing of my bike, ready for this next ride, the lady that cooked me my diner walks by and asks me with a friendly face: are you really on your own? Like all alone? As she points one finger in the air, with a face that will do all the talking when the actual language is missing. And then she gaves me the look. The look, that only a women can give to another women. ‘You go girl’ is what she says, before I take off and continue my way.
DAY 10: CHANGE OF DIRECTION – CHANGE OF PLAN – OFFFF WE GO TO KUNMING TO FIND ME A TECHNICAL MAN
01-04-2017, change of direction, off to Kunming
As I woke up today and lifted my bicycle up out of the lobby of this little hotel, I felt something strange in my front wheel and I decided to look for a bike-mechanic in this Chinese town for a little check. And as a true magical moment I managed to find me one. But that was about it, and then the magic soon left the story. This mechanic opened the hub of my front wheel and took many parts in and out, and eventually it turned out that he didn’t have the skills to put everything back in the right order. So he just didn’t. And gave me a little plastic bag with the spare parts. And I don’t think that I need to explain why that’s pretty much the worst case scenario for a visit to a bicycle mechanic. It’s like going to a hospital just to visit a friend and then returning back home with only one kidney left. So let’s just say, I was pretty bad. And although this man was without a question the friendliest mechanic in town… my look must have been like seriously shocked as I received this little plastic bag. There was no way back. Now I had a serious problem. There was a little friction in the center of my front wheel when I visited this ‘doctor’ but after my visit my wheel wasn’t able to rotate in a fluent way. And even though they say that you are most likely going to be ‘ok’ with only one kidney left, as a cyclist your are truly depending on your wheels and there’s no doubt: you need the both of them. So I started to question myself what I could possibly do to create a solution for this huge problem here in China without the language or the technical skills to do this on my own. And then, at this exact same moment there was this Chinese boy who was somehow overlooking the situation for a while and decide to undertake action. Follow me is what he said. I know a place to go. And so I followed, as there was simply no better plan. And then I arrive in this super fancy (or professional, maybe that’s a better word) bike shop and as soon as they look at my bike I feel relieved. I am at the right place now. In this hospital they know how to take care of their patient. And then there’s the diagnose: the hub is broken and it need to be replaced. And since it’s a hub with a dynamo inside, they need to take the whole thing out and put a whole new thing inside, and yes that means: they have to rebuild me a wheel (as the spokes are connected to the hub, so a new hub means new spokes – means new wheel – jeps we’re getting there!). Clear. Even in Chinese I was able to get this picture, talking with hand and feet and the help of my new Chinese friend. The boy who brought me here and felt more than responsible to help me out with this missing kidney. The problem was clear. BUT. The solution was not going to be found here. As they didn’t have the right tools nur the right parts to solve it. Well, at least they did have the expertise to put the essential parts back in the right order. I now was able to cycle again. And that was exactly what I had to do! I had to change my direction, and change my plan. I now had to cycle to Kunming to find me the right technical – mechanical man. And offff we go! Fingers crossed!
DAY 11: SUCH A DAY…
01-04-2017, change of direction – on my way to Kunming
Such a day, when even the dog that chased you made up his mind and turned away. And although days like this are exceptional. They do exist, and this was without a question a day like it. And all the ingredients were there. Super bad roads, like hardcore bad, like holes, and rocks, like mud, you name it, it was there. Bad weather, like rain, non-stop, like all day long. All your clothes soaking wet, not just from the rain also from the sweat. Cold feet and fingers. And then cycling huge detours and huge climbs, as you are simply banned from the bigger roads in China, the roads of smooth asphalt and big tunnels where you, on a bike, will be climbing those mountains instead. And then the knowledge, that this big detour to Kunming, a detour of 3oo km east, was going to make the whole challenge of cycling China from the bottom to the top, even more challenging. As you can feel the ticking time of a visa – with only 23 days left- that will slowly run out. So I am sure you can picture, this wasn’t my best day! And whoever would have told me that this day was about to end.. in singing a Justin-Beeber song in a karaoke bar, and drinking beers with freshly-new-made-chinese-friends, after a massive meal and a nice place to stay… I would have just said: no way! And let me tell you: this was exactly what happened! After this one tiny detail that made all the difference for today: I met another cyclist on my way!
DAY 12: AND THEN THERE WERE TWO – LET ME INTRODUCE TO YOU:
And then there were two! Let me introduce to you: Luke Miller from Ohio, America, also on his way back home. And did I mention he was also riding his bike? And after I saw him singing his first American songs with all the expression and persuasiveness of a true pop-star, I just knew it straight away, we might make a good team – we might make it far!
And offffffff we go!
04-04-2017, on the way to Kunming
And then they say that we are heavy loaded! On our way to Kunming. These are the old ladies and men that keep their city clean. I think they ride the most beautiful garbage-trucks I have ever seen!
DAY 14: A NEW WHEEL WITH A LITTLE HELP OF A FRIEND
The hero’s of the day: the charming Italian guy that helped me out with this super big challenge to find me the right bike-mechanic in town for today. As all I had was a little piece of paper with the name of the shop -written in Chinese to make it easy- and the lack of chinese understanding to properly explain the problem nur to ask them for the right way. And as I receive a ‘no’ in the third shop for today, I kind of started to question whether there would be a good outcome for me ahead. After the 300 km that I cycled to get here, I now realised that the true challenge had just began. As it seemed quite impossible, out of all those bike-mechanics in town, to find me the right one. They all told me, with hand and feet that they didn’t have the right parts, nur the tools, or the patience I would say. But then, in this 3rd shop, this charming Italian guy walks in and he’s not only capable of speaking and understanding chinese perfectly fine, he’s also in town on his bike as he decides to take his time to help me out. So together we cycle to the shop that it’s written on my little piece of paper, and it turned out to be… the same shop where I started this little challenge for today. So well hello.. welcome back. But I can tell you that, as soon as I walked in with my new Italian friend the whole situation changed. As he is able to introduce me and my problem in perfectly fine chinese, suddenly the solution is no longer out of reach. As the lady of the shop, takes me in for some stories and some thee, her husband – angle number three- starts to build me a brand new wheel. Together they own their shop and both are totally keen on riding a bike. So as my Italian friend told her about my ride, what I cycled so far and where I was about to go, I can tell you that: from that exact same moment: I gained a new fan.
Every rule needs an exception, so today I share two pictures. And a big thank you for my hero’s of the day. These are the people who you just bump into on your way, unexpectedly they create a solution where there once was a problem. And all I can say is: it feels a bit like magic every time that happens along my way. Team China and Italia, I would have been totally lost without your help today. Grazie Mille & a big XieXie for people like you on my way!
DAY 15: LET’S HAVE DINERRRRR
As you stop at a little village for a little break, and you find a big supermarket right next to you and all you can think of as you ask yourself what you might possibly need is: an apple, you know you are doing fine. Especially as the two of you are on the same line. And as we sit outside on the floor just in front of our bikes, eating our apple. This apple turned out to be: the golden ticket to have a night out with lots of food, great stories, again some alcohol, a place to stay and last but not least some very good company. As these two Chinese boys were just convinced that only an apple won’t do. Come on in, let’s have diner is what they say. And after our second shot of super-strong-risewine-vodka-shots we both were pretty sure that this was going to be: our final destination for today.
DAY 16: BIG MEALS AND LITTLE FRIENDS
China turns out to be, filled with super friendly and helpful people and we just happened to meet them day after day. As we enjoy our meal we make friends with this little girl who is pretending to do her homework outside at this restaurant of her mum and dad. But we all know better, as she was just colouring in her book and smiling to these two hungry cyclist instead.
DAY 17: AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR
08-04-2017, on our way to Dali
And then there were four! As we bumped into these two chinese guys on the road and we ended up cycling together for today. Of course after first enjoying some great food (sure you can have lunch at 12, even when you had breakfast at 9, no problem) and then shared a massive diner at the end of the day. And slightly hesitating I have to write down that again there was alcohol today. But most of all there were lots of stories to share! And with a little help of our biggest friend ‘technology’ we were even able to understand what we were saying, for most of the time.
DAY 18: IT’S A VERY IMPORTANT STORY FOR OUR HISTORY – THEY SAY
09-04-2017 on our way to Dali
There are some great benefits, having some chinese cyclist in your team. Besides having access to the best local dishes (and drinks) as they easily order whatever there is that can be served. They also are the ultimate key to gain some knowledge when it comes to their history, both culturally and socially. So they make a small pit stop and show us around. ‘This is a very important story for our history’ they say. ‘Wel… what’s the story’? Both team America and Holland are eager to find out. As team China answers our request: ‘We don’t know what the story is about’.
DAY 19: DALI – WE DIDN’T KNOW THE STORY
10-04-2017, Dali – on our way to Dengchuan
We did manage to cycle all the way to Dali yesterday, although -unfortunately- we did lose our Chinese friends along this 120 k. Girlpowerrrrr is what I used to say, but I guess we now have to find us a new slogan for the rest of our way …;) So the story of this picture: today we took a rest day, as we decide to cycle only a small 55 km. And so we started with a spontaneous visit to a local market and bought us a new souvenir. Blame it on team China, that they were’nt able to tell us the story about their history: I now continue my ride with their famous communist leader on the side of this bag on my bike.
And as the computer on my bike showed the number 23.000 km today, we made you a little movie on our way:
DAY 20: LET’S CAMP!
11/04/2017, campspot right before Jiuhe
Today we spontaneously stopped for a campsite on our way. We weren’t even looking for it, it was just there suddenly. Look up there is what he said. It was the surprise of the day. And absolutely worth-it in every way to finally be able to sleep outside in our tent. The only mistake was made in the very next morning of the very next day. Walking up at 7 when degrees go back to zero in the night is a mistake. We cycled 4 kilometers to the next town and stayed inside for at least the next two hours, waiting for the sun to come out.
DAY 21: SWEEEEEEEET IS WHAT WE SAY
12/04/2017 on our way to Yusige
Somedays it’s all about the food so let us show you our catch of the day. Some freshly baked bread with strawberries and a bit of honey on top. And the good thing is, we all collected it next to the road. You just have to keep your eyes open. Which is never really a problem when you ride your bike. Looking for friendly people, happy children, some good views and food is all what the eye of a cyclist is looking for on a ride!
13/04/2017 on our way to Shangri-La (Digin)
Cycling with two. Today I just realised that it’s more fun to cycle together, from time to time. Even though I am perfectly fine on my own, and I realy enjoy cycling alone, most of the time. Today I just realised that the biggest difference – with cycling on your own, is that you now will smile and laugh out loud. In stead of all these little moments that you normally enjoy and experience on your own. For now, here in China, I just totally enjoy the compagny and the fact that I am not alone.
14/04/2017 on our way to Gazan
And then suddenly as you climb a bit higher and higher each day…. and you gain more and more altitude along your way… you will reach the place where it feels like a totally new world that just opened up for you. It’s their true Tibetan scenery. And cycling in a surrounding like this feels pretty magical I can say. I guess you don’t need to explain why it makes you feel happy if you pass all their colourful flags on your way. I feel totally surprised here in China, day after day. And cycling in a surrounding like this makes me super aware of how special it is, that I am out here and able to feel and experience all of this.
DAY 24: +3.000m check!
15/04/2017, on our way to Gazan
Today we cycled our first pass of 3.800 m! No words needed to describe the feeling. Just like this chinese man had many words to share as we were not able to understand a word of it. Literally. But sometimes it’s not about the words, as it’s just an expression or sensation, and it doesn’t really matter what someone says. We have lots of conversations like this on our way, as Chinese just often sit next to us and start full-on stories about whatever it is they want to say. We just enjoy the energy and give them our best smile in return. As there’s something happening that’s more important than the understanding of the spoken words. It’s their way to connect, and in a way it’s not so hard to get, what it is they have on their mind. Like the way we managed to tell this man for who this place, probably his home, has the best view we’ve ever seen. And then this man was telling us, being impressed by our appearance on the top of this mountain pass, that he himself, didn’t ride a bike. And we all smile, as we all understand, if you are born on a summit of a 3.800m high pass, then that’s not so hard to understand. Says this Dutchie, being born in the flat of the Netherlands.
DAY 25: +4000 m check!
And 4.500m was going to be our next record of the day. We could tell stories in Chinese, in English or in Dutch, we could try our best in French or German, maybe Japanese, a bit of all the Asian languages we once road our bike, but there are no words needed, in whatever language it is, to describe how amazing it is: to ride your bike over a top of a mountain with the altitude of 4.500m. Besides, on this height you won’t talk that much anyway, as you will use your oxygen wisely: to breath and to get back on your bike to start this massive downhill for today.
17/04/2017, on our way to Xiangxheng
So. What to say? This is how we woke up today. After this super peak of 4.500 m, it soon went downwards, and no I am not talking about the road. The first tragedy of the day, is that I lost my lunchbox on the way. In fell down in five pieces to be exact. And then, as I continued my ride I was about to find out, that there was a strange sound in the backwheel of my bike. And it wouldn’t take long before I found out, that I had lost the bolts of the backrack of my bike. First the right side. So I fixed it. I fixed it with cable-ties to be precise. Everything can be fixed with cable-ties is what we say, but of course you realise that it might get a bit problematic as you look at the 25 kilo’s that you carry on the back of your bike. I am not sure if they pass the test is what I thought when I connected them carefully to the right side. And then the left side broke down as I continued my ride, and now it was just super simple: I had a big problem and might not be able to finish this ride. And I was right, as the whole set-up collapsed again after another 5 kilometers on this downhill. We both knew that this time there was no way in pushing through, so we decided to stop this shitty downhill on this gravel road. 30 km done and 20 km to go. But not for today. As we decided to pitch our tent just next to the road. Tomorrow we will make a solution, let’s first have a good night of sleep is what we said. And we cooked ourselves a fabulous meal of instant-noodles before we went to bed. Sooooo…. this next morning as we wake-up in this brilliant scenario, not so much had changed – as my bicycle was still broken- besides the fact that as soon as we opened our tent: we were surrounded by snow. Like a lot! Or well, a lot. For someone who was cycling in the summer for one and a half year: this was a lot of snow! So we packed our bags as I tried to fix my bike, and with 12 kilo’s on my back, some kilo’s at Luke’s bike (who was traveling light(er) – untill today), and a super creative set-up we continued our ride. Let’s go down to this little village 20 km ahead was the only thing on our mind. Let’s get out of here! So off we go, and after the first 15 kilometers cycling in the snow we finally get down to 3.000 m altitude, as it suddenly starts to rain. Well a what a warm welcome, I can hear myself say. Five more kilometers to go. Four. Three. Two. One. And so we arrive at this little town after the slowest downhill of my life, Let’s find a place to have a meal an have a rest inside. There should be a little restaurant around here, as there’s a ‘noodles-place’ on our map. And yes, there was. An instant-noodles-restaurant to be exact. Like a shop of two by two with some essentials to survive. Instant-noodles it was, and a big couch to sit outside. It was such an anti-climax that it was almost funny. Still we were able to laugh out loud. Except for my frozen fingers and feet, they weren’t laughing at all. In fact they were crying inside because of the cold.
18/04/2017, on our way to Litang
No way! is what you are about to say when I tell you our little story of today. So here we are. We just happened to have cycled our very first 4.700m pass today. At 23.30 in the night. Yes you here it right. And there were several reasons for that or circumstances to blame. But the biggest one of all is probably because it tuns out that we are kind of ‘the same’. If we say we do something we just continue untill its done. So we just didn’t stop. Even though there were technical problems for me in the morning and for Luke on the way, there were roadcontrutions that forced us to stop on our last hour of daylight that we got, ohhhh and before I forget we had to gain two kilometers in altitude today. So let’s just say, that the circumstances were pretty impressive today. So we ended up in the night. And actually the beginning wasn’t that bad. As cycling in the night is actually pretty beautiful, especially at this hight. Like absolutely beautiful. It’s quiet, peaceful and serene in a way that’s hard to describe. You are so close to the stars! The universe is so big and yet you are so small. It’s absoluty stunning and in no words I can describe the feeling of a night like that. What I do can describe is the feeling after a two hours downhill: it’s freezingly cold! Like losing the feeling in your toes and having a lot of feeling in your fingers: the feeling of PAIN. It was so damn cold that I had tears on my cheek, and not because I felt like crying or even slightly sorry for myself, it was a pure physical response of: cold. And I was cold in such a bad way that I was about to lose my mind. So as my hardcore-companion-in-crime mentioned we could camp for the night. It all was perfectly clear: he is by far the number one when it comes to being an outdoor-adventurer (and no not because you’re American Luke) because everything in me said: no way! I would die if I would get in my tent without a decent shelter for the night. So we continued our ride to this little village. But as soon as we arrived there it would be clear that there was nothing to be found. A hotel without a reception as closed as a rock, an empty police-check-point where there was light but no sign of a human-being inside, there was absolutely nothing here to be found. The whole village was asleep and there were no people around. Except for this one guy. We found one guy at a petrol station. And he was pretty much our only option for the night. He was sleeping in a little army-bed just behind the window and as I woke the guy up, without even questioning myself whether that would be appropriate, he just got out of bed without looking slightly surprised. I might have looked pretty desperate, it might have happened more often that cyclist knocked on his window in the middle of the night. Because this is what happened. So as he wakes up, get out of bed and opens te door, he grabs this big bunch of keys and walks towards another building nearby. He opens the door, he tells us to keep our bicycle inside. He asks us if we need a smoke, probably his way to see if we are alright, and then he closes the door. And that’s it, we found ourselves a place to stay, so we say: good night!
DAY 28: FINISH!
19/04/2017 – Litang.
The only thing that’s really important to mention for today; we did it! In the morning we still had another 120 kilometers to go, and we just did it! We arrived at Litang at 12 in the night, and this time I was feeling absolutely all right. Why the hurry I can hear you thinking. Well, the reason was all super simple, the visa of this Dutchie was running out. So in about 6 hours I would get a bus to a town nearby to apply for my second month visa. Wish me luck!
Until next time!
p.s. and don’t forget about those hand-kisses – let’s all start today!