Today is a rest day for me. My muscles, my whole body, my mind.. need a rest. Also today i need to get hygene. Took a nice hot shower today, feel so fresh! Washed all my clothes, my tent, my sleeping bag.. and my bike.
Nothing much to do here other than resting, since we were all so tired from the long ride against the ruthless weather for the past 4 days. Ganzi is a very small tibetan town, construction everywhere… polluted. Since we all reached this town, we all went on our own ways. Everybody needs privacy. I rented a cheap guesthouse not far from the mainroad, but we will all gather again tomorrow at 8 during breakfast at the mainroad before riding together again.
In the morning while heading for breakfast, i came across 2 hot tibetan girls, yes… seriously theyre hot. (sorry guys i didnt bring my camera that time… was just planning to go for bfast only). Only thing i know how to say in tibetan language is “tashi delek”, which means hello. And u know me well, being the naughty me… hehe… i simply say “heeeyyyy tashi delek girls!”. They smiled and i continue, “awww u two are so pretty… i love the both of uuuuuu!!!”. Suddenly 1 of them replied… “I love u tooo!!”. Eh?? Alamak they understand english! So i quickly walked away…. ehehehe…
At lunchtime, i went to a tibetan restaurant. There were a group of tibetan monks having lunch there. And as usual me being sarcastic, went inside the restaurant, and saying out loud, “heyy… salam alaikum boys!”. A waitress came to me, and i said “wo yao che fan… and… niu row” (i want to eat rice and beef). Coz im not too sure wether i pronounce the word “niu row” correctly, i put both my fingers on top of my head and acted like a cow… making a cow sound. Everybody in the restaurant were laughing at me. Then i continued, “wo bu yao tzu row” (I dont want pork), and while saying the word “tzu row”, i acted like a pig making a pig sound. Now everybody in the restaurant were laughing louder. I really attracted attention. The monks then came to my table as they were curious at me. We then ended up taking a picture together, talking and laughing happily, even tho we dont have a clue what we were talking. Today was fun, maybe because im a bit hyper today, being so playful and attracted the locals attention along the street. hehe. Well i think its a good rest day today, as starting from tomorrow ill be riding along the chola mountains, its tough, gonna be very tough, as now im sitting at 3300m altitude, and the next town which is manigange, is at 4500m altitude. So im not sure when i can reach the next town. Till my next entry, zaijian!
After 4 days of cycling thru the sichuan-tibet mountains, finally i reached a town called Gadzi, which is 265km from Litang. The ride here is much easier compared on my ride on episode 1 because of 2 things. Firstly, im already on tibetan plateau, so not much climbing. Its mostly up and down, and flat terrain. Secondly, im not riding alone this time. While i was in Litang, i met a few cyclists, and few are going on the same direction. So we all team up, and now our group is riding together towards yushu in qinghai.
We are from different nationality, 5 chinese including fay, 2 japanese, 1 american, 1 spanish and of course… 1 from malaysia ;) After yushu, all of them will ride to lhasa, the capital of tibetan autonomous region, the spanish guy will head to mongolia and finally to siberia, i will ride to xining. So for now, im riding in a group. Riding together benefits me, since most of em are so experience, the spanish guy has been cycling for 7 years around the world! Hes an expert and he taught me so many things. Ah… all of them taught me so many things. Another good thing is, those chinese group even have a truck following them. They hired a driver and a cameraman! So its easier, the the truck will scout for a good place to camp first, so we all dont need to search by ourselves. Plus, we dont need to carry so heavy luggage… since we can dump it inside the truck. But i dont wanna do that, because i need to depend on myself to prepare me the tough ride after xining crossing the desert.
Only the first day was easy ride for us. We did a lot of climbing, its high, but fine weather. The second day was really hot! Then i told em, “ahhh… welcome to Malaysia huh? Today i feel like home” :) All the 4 days we’ve been riding in the most remote area in china. It was like nothing in between. No towns, on the road it was only us. Only once in a while… there were motorbikes. So we spent the last 3 nights camping near the river. The last 2 days we rode in the rain and ruthless strong wind… and it was so cold. At night, it was raining, so its very very cold. At first i plan to take bath at the river. So i told the japanese guy that im going to the river to take bath. 3 minutes later i came back to him… and told him, “Oh no i think i better go to sleep. The water is too cold for a malay”. He laughed. Everybody knows i have problem with the cold. Since im the only one who came from a hot weather country. But of course, i never complain.
And our group is fun. The spanish guy is a joker… he is actually a clown. And he entertain us with his clown tricks… very funny guy. Also its fun to hear his travel stories. As we all learned a lot from him…. he inspired us :) Also they are all very understanding. The chinese helped us when we had trouble against the china police. And a guy named Elvis from HongKong helped me a lot on telling me where to buy good food and stuff. Also they warned me which one is pork… so that i dont eat em… because they know im a muslim and they respect that. They also helped me to get the direction of mecca when im about to pray, because i lost my compass back in chengdu hehe. So nice of them, good hearted people. Well, at least for now, its easy ride for me all the way to Yushu. I dont need to struggle alone for now. And i will learn as much as possible from this group, before i ride alone again crossing the dangerous taklamakan desert in xinjiang province.
First of all, im sorry to those of u who tried to contact me on facebook. Those of u who tried to add me and even send me msg on fb, its not that im ignoring u. Just to let u know facebook is blocked here in china. So i will reply all the messages and confirm the friends request once i reach pakistan or kyrgyzstan. Not only fb, sites like youtube and vimeo are also banned here. But suprisingly, google works fine. Im still using our own google.com.my anyway.
The Sky Burial mmm…
One of the customs of the tibetan people is the sky burial. When a person dies, they will put the body on the hills, cut it into pieces, and let it be there. The smell will then attract the vultures to come. The vultures will then surround the body, tearing it into pieces and fly with it into the sky.
It might sound uncivilized for most of us but this is their culture.. their belief. We have to respect that. According to their belief, which is the Tibetan-Buddhism, the body is just like a vehicle that is borrowed from the earth. Its temporary. When a person dies, the soul will leave the body, and it is no longer in use. So, by letting the vultures eat it is like the final act of generosity to the world. Well, theres a similarity between them and our islamic belief. Our body is indeed a temporary thing, our soul is forever. Our body is just like an oxygen mask, we need to wear it while we are here on earth. When we die, our body will return to the earth, and our soul will go to where it came from.
One sad thing tho, the mat sallehs here are so into it. U can see it here in Litang, and this morning they all went to see the sky burial not far from the monastery that i went a few days ago, came back and proudly showing everyone the pictures that they got. I didnt even bother to see it, its not that i dont want to experience it, but i dont want to encourage it. U know, these tibetans in my guesthouse are arranging the trip to the sky burial, and u have to pay a little amount of money to see it. Theyre making money out of dead people! Uhh… never encourage that! Imagine if 1 of ur family member dies, and u see foreigners come to take photos and proudly show them to their friends. Its not something sexy to me… so…
Getting ready for Episode 2 hmmm…
Fay has been very kind to me. She cooked dinner for me, and we spent time almost the whole day together. Riding for miles and miles together, climbed hills and did some fun language exchange. Went for a shopping in this small town together as i need to get another set of winter jacket. It gonna be very cold on my next route, as im cycling to qinghai province, ill be riding along this tibetan plateau, crossing the Tro La Pass, passing by Chola mountain and Daxue mountain range. My aim now is Xining in Qinghai, as the great Qinghai Lake started to wave at me, asking me to visit her. Thats roughly 1500km away. But i will pass by Yushu, some 700km away. If u still remember on our malaysian news, Yushu was greatly destroyed by earthquake somewhere early this yr, not so long ago. They say there were like over 2000 ppl died from this earthquake, and i plan to see the life condition there.
Today i met a chinese girl from the big group, lead by the american. I have hard time remembering her full name but i call her Fay. And she call me abang haha. Shes riding north to Qinghai, then will turn southwest towards Lhasa. Hmmm… most probably im gonna cycle together with her and her group towards Geermu in Qinghai, bcoz im heading there too, then ill ride alone again from there, head to northwest towards Kashgar. Very talkative to me, shes speaking mandarin to me as if im chinese and i speak english to her as if she understands english. We dont understand each other but we kept on talking! I then told her, “you keep speaking chinese to me and i keep replying in english, we dont understand a word but we keep talking! Amazing!”. Then we looked at each other… and laughing loudly… hehe. We decided to ride together today, to train ourselves to get used to the altitude. After lunch, we rode together some 20km towards the west from Litang.
Shes 24, from… errr… entah… some part of china i cant remember. Shes a tourguide since she was 17, and a strong woman. Hmm… i can imagine how nice if i can find a partner that doesnt mind to ride together with me around the world. Explore together, sharing the good and the bad moment together… watching each others back… would be lovely… ahh.. another dream of mine. Hope to find one, if not in china… maybe somewhere in the exotic kyrgyzstan? :)
Passed so many beautiful views, and at 1 point we decided to stop cycling, put our bike somewhere safe and start climbing to 1 of the hills. Good, time to train our stamina at this over 4000m altitude. When we reached the top, i checked it was already at 4600m altitude. While waiting for the sunset, we both keep talking, with our own language. since she doesnt understand english, i spoke malay to her and she replied in mandarin. It was fun. Taught her a few malay words, funny when she tried to speak malay. Cuteness… and sexy!!
After hours of waiting, laughing and talking nonsense, we finally watched the impressive sunset. It was good to see the color of the sky changed, from light blue… to orange.. to dark blue, then the stars starting to appear. When its getting darker, the wind is getting stronger and its getting colder. The wind was so strong and we started to have hard time breathing. We then quickly rode back to Litang town… it was fun… going downhill, at some 45km/hour. She then went back for shower, i went straight to the muslim restaurant for dinner. Again.. luck was on my side. I had my dinner, and when im about to pay, the owner, again, told me, “No pay no pay, muslim, islam”. Aww mannn….. what a day…
Being on the highland of Tibet, sitting at over 4000m altitude, made me feel so lazy hehe. just wanna slack around… feed my laziness :) i even had problem breathing after walking up the stairs when i arrived Litang. so to get used to the altitude.. i went for jogging, running fast then stop, breath, the speed up again, to train my stamina. Wanted to go jogging every morning, but im afraid of those tibetan dogs in the dark. Theyre very aggressive. So i jog in the evening instead, try to get used to the altitude. I think luck is just on my side, when i reached Litang, theres a guy asked me where i came from. i said malaysia. he then asked me wether im a muslim. i said yes. he then brought me to the only muslim restaurant in Litang. Wehehehe theres still a muslim restaurant in this tibetan town huh? nice :) I had my dinner there, and when i about to take my money to pay, the owner refused to take the money. He said, “Wo men, muslim, islam, same same, no pay”. I still tried to pay but he insist. Oh, how nice the hospitality here. I then said “xie xie, salam alaikum”, then i walked away. This never happen back in kl. I never care if i see muslims back in malaysia… hehe but here, i get excited when i see muslims as theyre excited when they see me too.
But here, even its sunny and blue sky everyday, its very cold.. even in summer. Its around 12c at daytime with the strong wind… brrrr… Very very dry… oh my skin is so damn dry now. Coming from humid and hot weather of Malaysia, surely i have a hard time here. But i dont see that as a problem. I see them as a training for me… to prepare myself the coldness of Siberian Plateau when i ride there few months from now, and also the very dry weather in Xinjiang province of China.
I met so many cyclists here! Amazing! Some of them are going north, some to the east to chengdu, some to tibet! met a couple from austria that plan to cycle to tibetan autonomous region, they cycle from here (Litang) to Batang, then tried to head to Marqam (thats my original route remember?), but failed lol! and had to go back to Litang haha. I told u… none can get thru now. so theyre now clueless, dont know where to go. Also i met a big group, mix of chinese, japanese and american that are going north towards qinghai too. So i might join them, will talk to them next time. Hmmm…
But this place is indeed amazing, exotic to me. Its like a wild west, cowboy town. Dont know why all these tibetans are wearing the cowboy hat. They look exactly like the burmese.. but bigger, a warrior look. Even the tibetan monastery, is a new experience to me. Seen it on movies, now i see them for real… with my own 2 eyes. I got lucky, when i arrived the monastery, they were about to start praying. I just sat at 1 corner and watch them praying from start to finish! Even while praying… they could still smile in front of my camera lense hehe. Its amazing hearing them chanting, then clapping, then chanting again.