Land of extremes

DCIM100GOPRO

Small road house dinner, my first day in Qinghai

DCIM100GOPRO

Home Dog Wind, from Guangxi province. He was headed north.

I am now in Qinghai province in the city of Golmud. This morning it was snowing and I looked around to see that I am surrounded snow packed mountains. It is going to be a cold ride south from here, but I hope to find shelter with locals in small villages along the way. The desert was difficult, almost everyday there was a sand storm and temperatures at night dropped below freezing. Local truck stops however carry their own special “Baijiu” (Sake) recipe, and a few sips helped warm me through the cold nights.

golmud-to-lhasa-railmap

I am so close to Tibet, that could easily make a brief trip over there. That is… if I wanted to book a tour with a guide, confirm with hotel dates and give up my bike. It is currently impossible for anyone without a Chinese passport to enter Tibet independently. Too many protests and riots before and following the China Olympic games. In some ways it would be a sad sight to see, considering that the Dali Lhama has lived in exile since his departure in the late 1950’s.Old potala palace

Tibet’s Potala Palace before Chinese invasion

Modern Potala palace

After

I feel strong yet confined here in China. People, pollution, traffic, noise is sometimes overwhelming and in many ways I feel that I am better of in my cold tent out in the desert. All night and day I can hear the horns from the cars outside my hotel window honking at pedestrians. Mega phones seem to be the new craze, and everywhere I go, supermarkets, side walk corners and city centers they are blasting pre-recorded loops advertising cellphones and sales. Accommodation continues to be difficult, but there is not much I can do.

It is almost June but there is still plenty of snow, cherries are in season and throughout the town there are carts selling kilos for a few cents. Flowers are blooming.  I continue on.

 

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