Into Tibetan Lands

The Himalayan foothills are turning vertical and Zippy’s long wheelbase and weight is making it difficult to hold a straight line, especially when a bus screams at us with its ear splitting high pitched horn, and the captain reacts toward the 100 ft. drop off into the river! So far so good, and the old reflexes will soon come back. The first weeks are the hardest, and these mountains are really really hard. We might have kept these mountains for the end of the trip when we are fit, but then the passes are snowed in; there is a typhoon approaching the coast, and we might get it even now. Hope not.

We have taken a day off at 8.000 ft. to acclimatize, catch up on getting some protein in; you have no idea how hard it is to get good quality protein in the small villages, and our bodies are craving it. Last night we bought a can of some kind of strange fish with a very strong flavor, and some black beans mixed in; wonderful. We have boiled eggs for morning and a bunch of greasy (tasty) pastries for the climb.

We are getting into Tibetan prefectures and seeing the dress and features of the minority population. After a 13,000 plus pass tomorrow, they will no longer be the minority. We are already seeing prayer flags flying, and old women turning prayer wheels as they walk, men dressed in huge leather cloaks with cowboy style hats and daggers. Everyone is friendly, and the air is finally clear!

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days:

Lucky Studies His First Prayer Flags

Lucky Studies His First Prayer Flags

Corn Husking Party

Corn Husking Party

Market Day

Market Day

Our Constant Companions

Our Constant Companions

A Few Minutes We Were Pedaling Up That Switchback

A Few Minutes We Were Pedaling Up That Switchback

View From Our Binguan

View From Our Binguan

Buddhist Rock Paintings

Buddhist Rock Paintings

Food

Food

On The Road to Shangri-la At Last

Bob: After five days of building up Zippy, visiting pandas, exploring Chengdu, we are leaving. Claire has been organizing route maps from the China road atlas Peter Snow – Cao  bikechina.com gave us. Peter has China bicycle touring company, but he bought us tea at a lovely tea house along the river, and shared information about our route. If you want to travel China with a guide, Peter is the man to contact.

We have enjoyed everything about Chengdu, except the poor air quality. Buildings across a single street have a blue/gray tint from the air. We will be glad to begin climbing the mountains, even if the stories we have been told about altitude sickness, harrowing long days for cyclists. There won’t be much air, but it will be clean at least! It will take us a couple of days to get across the valley and above the pollution basin. Then we will be in the mountains 10-15,000 feet for two or three weeks. We have already decided that we will need to extend our visas for China to leave time for altitude acclimatization and the usual, everything-takes-twice-as-long-in-China.

Lunch: Jiaozi, chilli sauce and spiced vinegar, with cold pejo (my spelling of how to pronounce beer).

Claire: I’m trying to eat more adventurously on this trip and so far, the spicy Sichuan food is very tolerable. Good thing Bob has had me in training for the last few weeks. (I’m beginning to absorb just how Sichuan food burns twice.) Tonight, we had mapo doufu, a regional tofu dish that is very spicy. We also actually did get green beans this time: wonderful crispy fried and salty. I’m sure our restaurant hosts thought we were out of our gourd for not wanting rice, but it was already more than we could eat and we hate wasting food, after all, there are starving children in America.

Those of you who know us and how we try to eat so healthy at home should know that our anti-inflammatory diet stayed stateside. We’re back on the see-food diet: we see food, we eat it.

I should mention here that Sim’s Cozy Guesthouse is very warm and hospitable. We got to meet Sim finally tonight and he was able to give us some good information, being a cycle tourist himself. He even gave Bob some Chinese herbal medicine for a rumbling gut. The amenities are great here and we fully appreciate that this may be the only place we’ll stay in that has in-room Wi-Fi.

Lucky: Leaving finally! I’m ready to rock and roll!