Domar, Tibet, China
Domar, Tibet China June 9 1998
We reached Tibet just a couple days ago. Upon our arrival
we have been greeted with typical Tibetan weather. That means
you get blasted with all four seasons in a single day. Mornings
are icy, the water bottles on the bike are frozen most of the
way through. When the bright morning sun hits our camping area
things warm up a bit. By the time we start riding we still have
most all of our heavy clothes on. An hour or two down the road
and maybe we have shed our Gortex parkas, pile hat and ski gloves.
and the sun goes behind the clouds and the dark clouds of a snow
storm chase us up the valley, we stop to get our warmer clothes
back on and the snow starts to blow in at a nearly horizontal
angle. Five minutes later and it is getting hard to see more
than 50 feet down the road and the snow is freezing into my beard.
We are climbing a nearly 18,000 foot pass, as the road transitions
into mostly mud. Mud to thick to ride through, we push the bikes
up hill through the streamlets of snow melt and thick orange
mud that sticks to the tires, to the spokes, to the bikes itself.
And ten minutes later it has all stopped. We bask in the intense
sunlight of the high altitude plateau. Once again we stow our
winter clothes. The climb continues we stop at the top to share
a Snickers bar carried from Pakistan and a chocolate PowerBar
brought from the USA. We point the bikes downhill, the washboard
road endlessly hammers our bodies and our bikes. After an hour
of decent we stop to filter drinking water from an icy clear
stream. Within minutes a hail storm dumps pea size ice pellets
on us, nearly covering the ground in a fresh white blanket, and
ten minutes later the sun beams down to remove any trace of the
hail. We pack up out bottles of sweet tasting water and move
on to look for a campsite for the evening.
Update from John:
The nine days we spent riding across the Askin Chin were physically
demanding, but that only underlined the almost ethereal beauty
of the terrain. It is an austere, hard, simple and pure landscape.
The Askin Chin is also high- around 5000 meters (16,500 feet).
The altitude makes every action a slow, deliberate effort of
will, and seems to make the muted yellows, reds and browns of
the mountains shimmer against a violet sky.
Domar, where we are resting and stocking up for the next leg
of our journey, is a strange place. Half of the buildings are
in ruins, and it seems that only about twenty people live here.
We've been staying in a hotel run by a very friendly Tibetan
family- they helped us to no end to get supplies and they make
sure that our cups of butter tea are always full. It's a real
luxury to sleep in a bed and have our food cooked for us. You
never appreciate a bare cement floor until you're slept on dirt
every night for a week! We're stocked up for the next ten days-
today we bough 30 packs of noodles, 35 boiled eggs, about 5 kilos
of bread, 1 kilo of raisins, and so on. Tomorrow we'll go on
a pilgrimage site for the full moon, and then we'll set off again.
Next stop:- the ancient Guge Kingdom.