My lucky day

My lucky day

Do I read that correctly? Does it saying ‘hot spring’ on that road sign? I exit from the paved road towards a valley. Will it really be true? A hot bath? No, this can’t be true. Maybe just some hot water that flows from a mountain but that will be it. Such natural miracles you always imagine yourself perfectly but in reality It often disappoint you. I protect myself in my mind from that disappointment but still decide to take a look.

It’s raining and it’s cold. I’m still in the Tibetan highlands. Now in the Sichuan Province. I cycle uncomfortable on some muddy stones. Six kilometers stood there on that road sign. I slow down because of a herd of yaks in front of me. I make wash gestures to the Tibetans. They point me further. When I finally see steam above the rocks, I can’t believe my eyes. This is it. It’s real. Here it is, a hot water oasis where I can take a nice comfortable bath.

Today is my lucky day.

Hot spring in Jiawa. My lucky day

In the restaurant with two fully loaded bicycles in front of the entrance, I met Annie en Polly. A Hungarian couple who are on their way to New Zealand. They came from Yushu and are on their way to Chengdu. I decided to join them for a day or two and see how it goes.

Hungarian couple I joined for some days

The Tibetan culture remains surprising. Sometimes people stop to take a picture of us. Sometimes we were invited for a cup of tea with yak milk and yak butter. On a rainy evening we could even use a house to stay the night. Nice and warm with a fire stove where Tibetans burn dried shit of the yaks.

Tibetan girl looking at my attempt to make tsumpa - the Tibetan breakfast

We did our best to make this evening an original Tibetan one. That was going fine until Polly pulled out his laptop. “Should we watch a movie?” And that was tempting. The last one I saw was in Tehran. An Iranian movie at a cinema, without subtitles. Not much later we were watching ‘The Hobbit.’

Though it was fun, I decided to go further on my own after two days. Annie and Polly rode slower what worried me about the kilometers that I had to make. My visa was
expiring not too long anymore and my legs tickled.

Our farewell was at the Golden Lotus Temple. A gigantic Tibetan monastery in the mountains.

Tibetans in front of a golden Buddha at the Golden Lotus Temple

So I made my way further through the Tibetan culture and enjoyed more beautiful surroundings.

Tseyongtjee, my Tibetan host in Yushu had explained to me that the route I cycled the Tibetan culture is still authentic. In Tibet itself, there are a lot of Chinese influence which affects the culture of the Tibetans. The Chinese influence are bringing a lot of welfare, but it nonetheless changes the life of the Tibetan people and their traditions.

Every culture is becoming a sort of modern and loses its authentic. Here in the highlands on the other hand I see still many Tibetan nomads living and their traditional habits are fascinating.

Tibetan boy staring

Tibetan prayer flags in the mountains

Buddha painting on a mountain

And yes, it is still a long cold lonely journey over the highlands. Uphill, downhill. I start to dream about the tropical temperatures which are to come. Today I still concur the cold and rain.

After some hours in the hot spring I decide to move on. I can’t stay here forever in this comfort. I cycle and cycle until I notice that I have a puncture. It start to rain even more. The wind does not make it more comfortable. I fix my puncture and move on again. I can’t anymore. I’m cold. The road only goes up. When it is going to stop raining? A jeep stops beside me. The window is opening and a Chinese guy shouts: “You need any help!?” I think about my situation and agree to his help. I load my bike into the jeep and feel myself at the same time a weak little boy. We drive up the mountain and the rain turns into snow. I look at my phone and see that we are riding on 4600 meters high. Everywhere is snow. Had I even survived this on my bike?

I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it.

After an hour we arrive in the town of Daocheng. I take out my bicycle from the jeep and an hour later I dry myself and my stuff in a youth hostel. In my shared bedroom a cable is hanging out the bed. An electric heating blanket? I creep into a nice warm bed later in the evening.

Today is my lucky day.