The Road to Everest

Day 11: Saturday 6 May 2006
May 15, 2006,

Day 11: Saturday 6 May 2006
Lanzhuo – Xining

Road to Xining
Today was a shorter travelling day after the long run yesterday.

We left Lanzhou alongside the Yellow River (China’s second largest). We then took the old road for 100km before joining the Expressway towards Xining to avoid the industrial towns of Hongga and Minhe.

Near to Ping‘An we left the Expressway to take lunch in one of the many restaurants in this bustling town. The restaurant we chose serve a wonderful beef soup and some delicious sweet pancakes that were very welcome indeed.

After lunch we climbed slowly into the hills, making our way along a very scenic road crossing two passes (3,545m and 3,820m) with splendid views of the surrounding areas.

Ta'Er Monastery Roof
We then arrived at the Ta Er Monastery. One can only imagine what it must have been like for early Buddhist travellers arriving at this most picturesque of towns, complete with much fine architecture in its hillside setting.

The Ta Er Monastery, which has 700 monks, dates from 1560 and was the birthplace of Tsong Khapa, founder of the Yellow Hat Buddhist sect now led by the Dalai Lama from his exile in Dharamsala.
Ta'Er Stupas

It was fantastic and very peaceful as we wandered through the town’s different streets, squares and temples away from the tourists. It was a 200m walk and 200m climb to visit the monastery’s famous Butter Sculptures, which are located in a small temple at the top of the hill. The sculptures, which are made every winter and changed every year, were astonishing and incredibly detailed.

From here we took a short run on the Expressway to our overnight halt in Xining, another typically busy Chinese town.

Debating monks

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Day 30: Thursday 25 May 2006
Zhaoqing – Splendid China, Shenzhen

On this our final day of the Great Tour of China 2006, we made a short journey mainly on expressway from Zhaoqing to the Splendid China Cultural Park in Shenzhen for the ceremonial finish.

May 26, 2006
Day 29: Wednesday 24 May 2006
Guilin - Zhaoqing

We left Gulin on smooth fast roads with wonderful views of the ‘eggbox’ type hills. These are hills of limestone which have eroded into shape over centuries covered in native vegetation and resembling very large teeth.

May 25, 2006
Day 28: Tuesday 23 May 2006
Kaili - Guilin

The agenda today was another long driving day to Guilin along a mixture of road surfaces: smooth main roads, bumpy secondary roads and some roads still under construction.

May 24, 2006
Day 27: Monday 22 May 2006
Huangguoshu Falls - Kaili

Before negotiating another day on the road, everyone spent a couple of hours today visiting China’s most scenic falls at Huangguoshu. Set against lush, local vegetation, the falls make up in beauty for what they lack in size.

May 23, 2006
Day 26: Sunday 21 May 2006
Kunming – Huangguoshu Falls

This morning we took the northern road from Kunming on a mix of main highway, dual carriageway and back roads. The first town we passed through was Quiyang en route to Honggu, a large town with coal mining and steel production as it’s main industries.

May 23, 2006