Tibet: China’s Captive Seductress

Litang, Ganze, Tagong, Danba, Chengdu – 2 weeks, 900km

Tibet. From the couch on which we’re sitting inside an apartment in Chengdu’s southern suburbs, the Forbidden Land feels far away and remote. But less than a week has passed since we crossed over our final pass of the Himalayas, snow-covered and freezing, and descended down 13,000ft through alpine valleys and along rain swollen rivers into the gray, smoggy crush of urban China. In many ways, that descent was a tragic loss of the high-altitude harmony of Tibetan culture that we discovered and relished in for the past 4 weeks. But it also brings with it a promise of change and forward momentum, for we have left the solitude of the rough, demanding highlands for good, and now will face a different kind of challenge: unyielding human density, mega-cities, and a whole new level of traffic insanity. South Asia looms large in the horizon of our imaginations.

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‘Please Go Away: Welcome to China’

We’re here; we made it, the big daddy, the second leg: China. At 5,000 kilometers and after a crazy 12 days of riding since Hanoi, we’ve hit the next of the big cities on our route – Kunming, China. Population: 6 million. Neon lights, friendly people, bike lanes and eerily quiet electric scooters everywhere. Silent killers, those things. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

It was time to leave Hanoi. We’d been there 10 days, recovering, waiting for visas, repairing bikes. More to the point, it was time to leave Southeast Asia. Continue reading