The Road to Everest

Day 12: Sunday 7 May 2006
May 15, 2006,

Day 12: Sunday 7 May 2006
Xining - Golmund

Last night we spent the night at 3,215m (almost 10,600 ft) so crews were beginning to feel the effects of the altitude – nothing too serious just headaches and shortness of breath when walking. The principle from here onwards is to remember to take it SLOWLY, SLOWLY, SLOWLY.

Today was the start of two long days across the vast Tibetan Plateau, so early mornings are in order. We initially took the Expressway out of Xining for 60km before joining the scenic road around the Qinghai Lake (China’s largest containing many species of fish and posing as a stopping area for many wild birds on their migration). It really was magnificent, and many crews took the opportunity to stop and take numerous photos. With the lake at our side we passed herds of yaks and sheep grazing by the road.

We stopped for lunch at a place called Dulan, 6.5 hours from Xining where we sampled some excellent, but very hot, local pancakes filled with mutton and green chills! It definitely warmed us up as from here the outside temperature was beginning to get cooler as we climbed in altitude.

After lunch it was another 340kms across the Tsaidam desert where we battled with an increasing crosswind which coupled with the high altitude began to noticeably increase our fuel consumption. The desert itself was very quite and felt quite lonely what with very little trucks and no mobile cellphone network!!!! Occasionally, however, we passed a couple of Buddhist pilgrims who pray by the roadside on their own 18 month journey to Lhasa from the Ta’Er Monastery, falling to their knees and then laying down every three steps. One can only describe them as very focused and strong minded people as the conditions in the desert were not at all kind.

Finally, once we crossed the desert we arrive in Golmud (a military town) and the place of our overnight halt, where the first speeding ticket of the event was awarded to HERO 4x4xplore official Ursula Harris. She was fined 200 Yuan for doing 100km/h in an 80km/h zone! An unfortunate end for her on a fantastic day. Still spirits are still very high as we enter areas which are very much untainted by tourism.

The Road to Golmund across the Tibetan Plateau

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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