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Electric blankets, cold tablets and truck loads of Monks

Let’s start with the Tibetan monks shall we? There we were, up in the Grasslands, or should I say Snowlands, between Gansu and Sichuan provinces soaking up the vast landscapes, warmth of the afternoon sunshine and getting our first whiff of Tibetan life when we were overtaken by a procession of perhaps 15 cars filled with red robed monks, and at the forefront of the hazard light winking snake was a cattle truck full of teenage monks. Hmmm, could this be linked with the heavy police and army presence we experienced as we lunched in Hezou? The experiences of Khorog have taught us to heed advice on the road, so when shortly after we headed up a track to make camp and were followed by a police 4×4, we realised something was definitely up. We were advised to ride on an extra 10 kms or so as there was growing friction in the area, as it transpired, the act of self immolation had taken place, a horrifying way to protest against the governments restrictions on the Tibetan people. It’s not just colourful flags and ruddy cheeked children here, there is a harshness in this wilderness.

So the wilderness doesn’t come with out it’s tests and trials, an ever increasing altitude took our breath away, we felt the nip of jack frost, in my case Jack was biting off my digits as we camped in snow like he hadn’t eaten for a week. The cold was brutal during the night, our water froze and a layer of ice and snow cocooned us in our tent, but don’t feel sorry too for us, in the morning we emerged after hot porridge and coffee like pink and grey butterflies happy to cycle for a new day.

Even though the nights were cold, the sun shone during the day and we rode alongside grazing yaks, glossy horses and saw eagles and vultures spiralling in the thermals. Clusters of nomads dotted our route, their ingenuity to making the most to the sun intrigued me, reflective dishes heat their teapots and start fires while yak-pats splatted on tarmac dry out to fuel their burners. Nice.

We’re now in Songpan, over 1,000 metres lower than the Grasslands but it’s still cold at night. No yak-pats here though, it’s electric blankets and heat lamps all the way, which is great as Pete and I both brought colds with us down through the mountains. Hence the dash to the chemist this morning where the usual game of charades commenced and packets of tablets were dished out. Who knows what we bought but lets hope they do the trick!

Once again we’ve been hot on the heels of our good cycle friends Ramon an Hanne, who we last blew the froth with in Lanzhou. We’ll do the same again this evening and wave them off in the morning as they ride south to Chengdu. No doubt we’ll be seeing these guys again, even more likely as when Ramon strode in after lunch with a Lonely Planet for Vietnam under his arm he said ‘So let’s talk about Christmas…’


14 Responses to “Electric blankets, cold tablets and truck loads of Monks”

  1. Blimey, it gets more and more exotic and I’m becoming a well-travelled armchair tourist so keep on pedalling.
    Love the photos too – they are really stunning.
    so glad you are both ok and happy
    Love you both so much


    mary Reply:

    Turn that armchair into a seat on a flight to see us Marian! xxxx


    Posted by Mum/Marian | October 25, 2012, 10:15 am
  2. As soon as we’ve moved and Buzz can do long-haul we will. Am going to do pre-Christmas in Gsy with Jen – out come the sparkles!


    Posted by Mum/Marian | October 25, 2012, 1:58 pm
  3. You two are my heroes! What you two are experiencing and achieving is just mind-blowingly excellent!

    You’re blogs are so interesting and they’re keeping me going through the nights of breast feeding Mollie my lovely new 4 week old! Keep writing I need more!

    Lots of love and continued luck to both of you.
    (Fleeburs) xxxx


    pete Reply:

    Hey Lise and Mollie! Great to hear from ya!

    Congratulations on you’re new little’un. How’s things apart from the long nights of lactation?



    Posted by Lisa Osborne | October 26, 2012, 4:24 am
  4. Hi Pete,

    Just finished a stint actually and now trying to coax the little tike back into her cot rather than my bed!

    Mollie is great and very easy (so far) however Simon’s Dad has just died and we held the funeral yesterday. We registered his death and Mollie’s birth on the same day, so it’s been a roller coaster of highs and lows for the last 4 weeks.

    It looks and sounds like you’re having a brilliant adventure, I’m very envious – although I know very well that I could never do anything like that myself, It takes a lot of guts determination – I’ll just have to let having children be my adventure and let me tell you it has it’s own very significant challenges!

    Stay safe and well both of you
    Lise xxx


    Posted by Lise Osborne | October 26, 2012, 4:43 am
  5. Hi guys! Wow! What an amazing adventure, looks stunning (and that’s just Mary posing in her pink outfit!) and so impressed with your journey so far. Really interesting blog bringing these far flung tales back home! Inspirational!
    We’re on our own little (emotional) journey at the mo, as our baby is due in less than a month! So I’m very much another armchair follower!
    Loads of love, take care, Sylv xx


    mary Reply:

    Oh Sylvia that is great news! Congratulations!!! OK so you really are allowed to be an armchair traveller! Glad you like my high altitude campsite ensemble…‘Mary wears a fleece lined, pink and grey 100% polyester outfit, gathered at the ankles and wrists to retain warmth…this fashionable two piece can be found in any street market which holds true to the concept of practicality not compromising style…’
    Keep US posted with your own adventure please!!
    Lots of love to you xxxxxx


    Posted by Sylvia | October 26, 2012, 6:55 am
  6. Make the most of that electric blanket when you hit town … nowhere you can switch one on when you’re out on the steppes … expect you are snug as bugs in rugs anyway in the new tent? Hope so anyway! xxx Mum Jen


    Posted by Mum - Jen | October 27, 2012, 12:17 pm
  7. Because the question was asked in the first place…. Why is the Dalai Lama suppressing religious freedom? http://wisdombuddhadorjeshugden.org/t
    You get that online in China but not too much on google here ?
    You’re there so I hope you can answer the question and put the world to rights!… if you can?


    Posted by Jim | October 29, 2012, 2:24 am
  8. Hey hey!

    I love the pink – you’re working the look. Clashing patterns is bang on trend, and the print on the top is totes baroque.

    In Lithuania now, sorry I haven’t had a chance to reply yet, it’s been a bit chaotic. Hopefully get to skype at some point. I’m now gmt +2, so let me know when you have some free time.

    Love always Xx

    *wanders off to look at video*


    Posted by Bean | November 2, 2012, 5:46 pm
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  11. R.I.P.


    Posted by Chris | April 29, 2018, 4:21 pm

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