About Day 28:
Our Chinese New Years Eve was a class experience. It was filled with firework explosions and plenty of Chinese beer and whiskey. We also sported our trademark John Fogerty check shirts which made the tourists flock all around once we hit the streets of Jinghong. We pretty quickly had a table of 10 consisting of Germans, French, and Aussie. We partied hard into the early hours and navigated our way back to our hostel in the middle of town....
Today our 28th day.....and as it is Chinese New Year, the hostels and hotels are extra expensive, but we are very lucky and charm the hotel reception girls using a very unorthadox approach. It is called "Google language translator" and using some cleverly structured sentences of persuasion and a pinch or two of Irish persistance we get our hostel for the 2 nights for about 15 euro in total. The room comes with with air con, a pipping hot shower and with two big beds so It was worth it in the end.
Mekong River flood planes outside Jinghong
Our Rest days in Jinghong will be spent organising ways to get into Tibet. Cycling with our type of bicycle and gear up to and into Tibet is an absolute non runner. Coupled with this slight annoyance, temperatures are currently stradling between 5 degrees or -10 degrees celcuis with the roads pertty much snow-covered in sections. We are also not equipped for camping in sub-zero conditions and purchasing the necessary gear to do so (for the possible 2 week stint) would be far too costly. It would most certainly throw our currently tight budgets right out of kilter.
We know that we can only get into Tibet with a specially obtained permit and also within a pre-booked and organised a tour. The permit will also only be granted if we can prove that we have a detailed and fixed iternary on arrival there. It is total beurocracy to be honest and these permits, organised tours and general hoop jumping exercises are seen as nothing more other than a juicy cash cow.....a sheer blatent money racket/scheme targetted directly at tourists!! Its seems like Tibet is all about milking your money and you just have to ride to waves and be happy!!!
We do know 2 things, that we are hell-bent on going to Everest Basecamp (which also requires special permits) in Tibet and then heading on to Kathmandu in Nepal. From there we shall head into India (prob Delhi) and then to Pakistan leading into Iran after that......We are extremely exited about this stage of the trip. It may require us to take a train into Lhasa in Tibet which will take us in excess of 16,000 ft on a vertible highway in the skies.....Have a read about it...It sounds brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!
The new China Tibet Train:
The "Sky Train", "Lhasa Express", "Rocket to the rooftop of the world", "World's highest railway"; regardless of what its called, This qinghai tibet train is truly an engineering wonder.
The train is equipped with 2 Oxygen sources, 1) released throughout the cabins when reaching Golmund and heading into Tibet and 2) Personal Oxygen Canisters in case you feel light headed and only available from
Tibet to Golmund or from Golmund to Tibet (see tibet train oxygen ).
Between Xining and Golmud the tracks pass by Qinghai Lake - China's largest. But it's the Golmud-to-Lhasa sector which offers the most breath-taking scenery. That segment also offers the record-breakers: the world's highest passenger railroad (at Tanggula Pass - elevation: 16,640 ft.; 5072m) and the world's highest railroad tunnel (Fenghuoshan - elevation: 16,093 ft.; 4905m). Over 80% of the journey is at altitudes above 13,000 feet; fully half the track on this sector was laid atop permafrost.
Much of the travel involves crossing a massive plateau nicknamed "The Rooftop of the World." Special diesel engines capable of operating efficiently at 3-mile-high altitudes were designed; an internal garbage disposal system was employed to reduce pollution along the route.
Major attractions along the Tibet by Train route include:
Xining: Xinging, a city of just over one million inhabitants, is situated in a remote valley on the eastern edge of Qinghai Province - occupying China's rugged, cold-weather northern "frontier." The city is best known for the Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Temple), one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist sites in China. The Gelugpa sect was founded here by Tsongkhapa, and the hillside monastery was erected in 1560 in his honor. Up to 2,000 monks can gather to chant sutras in the Great Hall of Meditation, whose roof is supported by carpet-wrapped pillars. The Hall of Butter Sculpture includes colorfully-painted yak butter scutptures depicting important events in Buddhist history. Once home to over 3,000 monks, Kumbum Monastery now houses 600.
Qinghai Lake: The lake is about the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, though Qinghai Lake is not nearly as salty. Its waters support a variety of fish which, in turn, support a variety of birds - many of which call on Qinghai Lake during their bi-annual migrations. Commorants, gesse, cranes and swans are plentiful here. The summer months bring herds of yak. Over twenty rivers and streams flow into the lake but there's no outflow; evaporation maintains its level.
Golmud: The city's economic mainstays are its burgeoning mineral, oil and chemical industries. But to the visitor Golmud's main function is "transportation hub." Through here funnels traffic from China's eastern and northern cities to the lone highway (and now, the lone railroad) leading southwest to Lhasa. To many visitors passing through, Golmud's surrounding landscape presents an almost lunar look; at an almost 10,000-foot elevation, the region is virtually treeless.
A deluxe 5 star sightseeing train will soon be up and running on the newly-completely Qinghai-Tibet railway, Ma Jiantang, vice governor of Qinghai province, revealed during a tourism promotion meeting held in Shanghai.
About Day 29:
Last night we took it handy enough, we have met a girl from Australia named Michelle, who is cycling on her own down South and back along the same routes we have covered. We trade info and books with her whilst slagging her contraption of a bike...which has strings, bells, bungie chords and ropes galore keeping things together...Its all good sport so we take some pics...Best of luck Michelle. Hope the bike is ok again. We will keep tabs on your crazyguyonabike blog....
On your bike Michelle!!
Our night (especially mine) took a bit of a nose dive tonight...I woke up very sick in the middle of the night with what I could only presume was food poisoning from the Beef Lasagne I ate only a couple of hours previously. The further compound my midnight misery....I was faced with "The Squatter"....which is basically a hole in the ground, a common substitute for a western style toilet over here....Coupled with this slight inconvenience, Spittitty poops had now entered my vocabularly....I wish not to talk about these experiences any further!!!!!!!!....but to sum up......I was pretty ill all round!!!!
Thankfully, I felt better towards the end of the next day, but to our horror, Brian and Mike came down with very similar sickness. Tiredness and vomitting!!! We put it down to a bug and contemplate taking another rest day as a precaution. We also took out the medicine box for the first time, using our anti-sickness (mottillium) and dirrorea tablets (immodium). We reckoned they worked fine.
Brian feeling like a million dollars 2 hours before he hit the squatter floor
Mike about 6 hours before he got struck down
We also said farewell to Michelle as she worked her way down to Laos.......
About Day 30:
We are still feeling the effects of the sickness and wonder if anyone else has been affected. We try to have some breakfast but somehow it doesnt feel appealing at all this morning. There is an Elephant Sanctuary some 50km outside Jinghong on our way to Kunming, so we decide to cycle at a slow pace to it...in an effort to make up some lost ground and also to get out of Jinghong....(places get boring after a day or two!!!)....With this in mind, we plan our route. As it transpires, It is entirely uphill and roughly 86 fahrenheit. Approx 4km into the cycle, we collectively decide that we are too ill to continue.....We therefore turnback and hit back to Jinghong and take the 3rd rest day. We cannot really complain to be fair because up until now we have been on schedule and in the full of our health each day.......That night we rest alot and pack our gear well to hopefully get on the bikes and head to Kunming which will is approx 500km away from Jinghong. We are going to try and hit the motorway (boring boring!!!) for a couple of these days to pick up on our lost time...so we plan to do some serious kilometers in the coming days......
Until our next cycling day....Talk soon!!!