Still alive and riding...

Vast Tibetan grassland at 4'000 to 4'500m
Vast Tibetan grassland at 4'000 to 4'500m

The start was tough: A beautiful day when I left Yushu but after 70km I stopped on the foot of a apparently big pass. Since I was just coming from Hong Kong (0m) stayed two days in Xining (2'400m) and another two days in Yushu (3'700m) I should still not underestimate the altitude. And after the pass who knows if it's going down or if it stays at this hight? So I made an early stopp and put up my tent already at 2 p.m. at 4'200m. In the evening I got a headache (mild symptom of mountain sickness). In the night it started raining and it didn't stop for about 24 hours. So I spent one whole day in my little tent waiting for better weather... The constant noise of rain on your tent can drive you crazy! The next morning good weather was there again and I felt well. So I started climbing the pass which turned out to be 4'700m high. So in the end it was good I spent another day aclimatising.

 

After riding over a vast green high plateau with yaks to Serxu monastery where I could spend the night in the monastery hotel. Next day continuing. One night I could put up my tent next to some Tibetan herders tent and it was a clear and cold night at 4'300m. So cold that I had snow inside my tent from my breathing the next morning. The weather getting better and better I continued to the Dzogchen Gompa Monastery somewhere in the middle of nowhere, between two high passes and on the foot of a high snow capped mountain at the very end of a glacier valley. Beautiful place! A few hundred monks practising there. I could get a bed next to the monastery and even join the monks for ceremonies. For the first time for a very long time I saw some trees again. The spot was so beautiful I spent three nights there. It was also there, where I met an other tourist for the fierst time in a week: A young French hitchhiker. So it seemed that the road was officially open for tourists and I was legal here. So far I just pased any police checkpoints without stopping and nobody ever stopped me.

 

After I continued to the wild-east town of Manigango and continued to Ganzi. Coming down from 4000m to 3400m it got remarkebly milder what I enjoyed very much. And some beautiful weather with blue sky and only few clouds. In Ganzi there was no internetacces for foreigners because of fights between Tibetans and Chinese police earlier this year. I continued the next morning from Ganzi towards Litang over a little road where there is no public transport and also very little traffic. Again the scenery changed completely and I entered a very, very narrow valley with conifertrees on the slopes and a wild river down under me. After three days in this narrow and peaceful valley I was down at 3'000m. There I took a right to a smaller side valley up and over a 4'500m pass in less than 50km! This was an uphill like hell! 50km nonstop on unpaved roads with some rivercrossings. After going down to 4'100 again, up to 4'300 and then down to the city of Litang at 4'000m again. There I am now and am planning to leave tomarrow further south to Shangri-la. The weather has just turned worse today with some rain and some thunders. Hope this will pass quickly...

 

With love from Litang...

Philipp

 

ps: thanks to picasa and several hours in internet cafes in Hong Kong and Yushu I could finally upload some fotos. Check them out here!

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Kommentare: 1
  • #1

    Peter E (Mittwoch, 21 September 2011 14:18)

    Hallo Philipp Ich wünschte, ich wär so sportlich wie du. Ich war im April/Mai auf der Route Xiahe - Songpan - Chengdu. Mit dem Bus; und wollte von da via Kanding nach Litang. Man liess mich nicht. Werde nächstes Jahr versuchen von Zhongdian nach Litang zu gelangen. Wenn du in Lijiang bist, grüsse die Leute im Garden Inn! Peter

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Coming home 2

Coming home 10 months after I have left
Coming home 10 months after I have left

Going for a big journey is one thing, but coming home is another. Just today I've got a qoutation from Albert Camus from a cycling buddy:

 

"What gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have... Far from our own language, stripped of all our props... we are completely on the surface of ourselves. But also, soul-sick, we restore to every being and every object its miraculous value."

 

I think this is very true and gets the very point of the adventure of going for a big journey. And now coming home is another adventure. And it breaks down another inner structure again. After so many months on the road with no home but the tent or a hotelroom, the routine of getting on the bike every morning, looking at the sky and the weather, the impression of so many so different people, animals, landscapes, sounds, smells coming home is like another big adventure. An adventure at least as big as the going away. Coming home with all these impressions, life will never be the same again.

 

After two months of asylum at my parents house in the north east of Switzerland I found a place to stay in Zurich in April. So it was time to go for the last bit of my journey: riding the 80km back home to Zurich. I took some small roads through the hills of the Hinterthurgau, crossed the Lake of Zurich on a ferry and reached Zurich Wollishofen almost exactly 10 months after I have left the town by bike (see photo).

 

This is the end of my journey.

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From +30 to -20 degrees Celsius

Snowcovered hills back home
Snowcovered hills back home

Taking a plane with a bicycle always makes me a little bit nervous since there seem not to exist any definitive regulations and it always depends partly on the goodwill of the clerk at the check-in desk. After organizing a carboard-box for the bike and a taxiride to Bangkok International Airport I was checking in as early as possible with 38kg instead of the allowed 30kg. The woman at the counter did some phonecalls but in the end gave me boardingpass and ticket and I didn't have to pay any overweight!! Yeeeesss! It could have been 40$/kg overweight!

 

After one night in Colombo my plane to Switzerland took off at noon on February, 3 and by sunset we landed in Zurich. The temperature outside: minus 11 degrees Celsius and still dropping! And it dropped as far as minus 22 degrees the following night. The next day - exactly eight months after my departure - I cycled the last few km back home through a beautiful snowcovered landscape.

 

Total time: 8 months

Total km: 8'864 km

Total countries: 7 (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand)

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The dewdrop has reached the ocean

After more or less eight months and 8800km of cycling I have reached the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

 

After two weeks in Chiang Rai I missed my bicycle. So I took a bus down to Bangkok again just to take my bicycle on the train and head for the Cambodian border at Aranya Prathet where I crossed the border three weeks before. I decided to make a little detour through Cambodia before heading south to the sea. I passed through the colonial City of Battambang and continued from there south to the borderprovince of Pailin, known for gemstones and beeing the last "Khmer Rouge Resort". From here I cycled straight down to Trat at the Gulf of Thailand and took a boat to the remote jungle-island of Koh Kut (picture).

 

The Island is the perfect lonely-beach-paradise and endpoint of my pilgrimage from the Central Asian deserts over the Himalayan Plateau to the jungles of Southeast Asia. So I pass my remaining days here at the white beaches of Koh Kut.

 

On february, 2 my flight leaves at 7 p.m. from Bangkok International Airport direction Switzerland...

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