Kalishu Himalayas

The yaks were gathered beside the road and I watched as one made a dash across the tarmac to the green grass on the other side, the bike in front of me just managed to swerve and avoid it. That would have been an ironic end to the last day in Tibet, hitting a 400kg yak. Our morning had been a cold one – no-one seemed to get up early here in the small town of Amdu, just a couple of hours from the Chinese border. In fact, our hotel which was basic but at least had a restaurant on the ground floor had refused to serve us breakfast as we wanted to get up so early. So we went on a trawl of the town’s eating establishments, until finally we found one that was happy to open at silly o’clock in the morning so that 14 hungry bikers could have a hot breakfast before hitting the road. The deal somehow also included me standing alongside the cafe’s proprietor and cooking the fried eggs for everyone in a wok.

One final high snowy pass with the usual pilgrims clustered at the top around the stupa and shrine, both festooned with prayer flags. After that it was all downhill as I watched in my mirrors for as long as possible as the snow-clad mountains of the Himalayas disappeared behind me, we were leaving the most majestic range I have ever travelled across and heading into the hot, humid plains of China. It was goodbye or kalishu as they say in Tibetan, to the cold and snow as I packed away my faithful Gerbings jacket and hello to China.

To me it felt like South East China, it seemed like such a long time ago that we had left the North West and we had been heading steadily east and south ever since. But actually, as China is such a vast country, it still counts Qinghai province as the south west.