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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.