Lhasa

I’m sure that if the word Lhasa was written in a dictionary it would be defined as meaning somewhere remote and far away. And that’s exactly how it felt when we reached this capital city which is one of the highest in the world. We had been riding on the Tibetan Plateau for 10 days at this point and were all in need of a rest. To our delight, we were in the old part of town which is full of fascinating markets and narrow alleyways unchanged for hundreds of years, though perhaps even more of a delight for us was the fact that the hotel had all mod cons – just turning on a tap and getting water was a novelty, let alone hot showers. We were to have a few days here and we made the most of them. Sightseeing, resting but most importantly getting the bikes ready for the next stretch. Beryl the bike only needed cleaning and some tightening of nuts and bolts which had worked loose over the thousands of miles of rough roads;  and a bulb change, several of us needed to replace blown bulbs which set off a discussion as to whether it was due to rough roads, high altitude or just plain coincidence.

I reached for my shorts and t-shirts once more, Lhasa is at only 3600m and its weather felt balmy to those of us who'd braved snowstorms and freezing condiditions at high altitudes to get here. I also felt like I was Wonder Woman as once more I could walk briskly and not feel like I was going to asphyxiate.Feeling lazy at times I also took advantage of the bicycle rickshaws to get around, a great way to see a town at a pace that's not too fast. And also that serendipitous touch of hoping that the cyclist did actually understand me and know where I wanted to go.

Two local bikers, Tubing and SeeWah turned up on their bikes, a KLR and a large Honda. They were curious about our bikes and keen to meet us, as foreign bikers are such a rarity here. Unfortunately they only managed to track us down the night before we left and so we were unable to take them up on on their offer to show us some of the off-road tracks in the hills around the city.