The Road to Everest

Day 14: Tuesday 9 May 2006
May 15, 2006,

Day 14: Tuesday 9 May 2006
Nagqu - Shigatse

Today we all woke up to a great breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, jam and instant Nescafe coffee – basic but much needed as many had battled with a disturbing nights sleep, again all altitude related. Eileen Ainscough commented she never thought Nescafe could taste so good!

Medic Mike by stupas and prayer flags
The mornings run took us through some wonderful scenery to see the famous Chorten Rang-po Stupas. These eight Chortens represent the main events in Sakyamuni’s life and tasks to be completed by Buddhists to achieve eternal life. Each Chorten has a square base symbolising the earth, a dome (water), steps or rings (fire), a parasol (wind) and topped by a crown representing the ethereal sphere.

Shortly afterwards we arrived at the small village of Yangbajain where some took lunch. After lunch we passed the Hot Springs where the ‘waters’ can be experienced, but no crews took up the offer of a ‘quick dip’!

We then travelled on brilliant gravel roads and onwards towards the highest point of the Great Tour of China, Mount Xuegula Pass at 5,430m (17,950ft). To reach the summit we climbed the steep pass through a number of hairpins and arrived at the top where prayer flags adorned the hillside. Here there were splendid views of the surrounding mountains.

Just before the summit, Do and Annemieke’s Jag suffered from their reoccurring fuel starvation problem and had to be towed the last few hundred metres by the Holopainen’s reliable Land Rover Defender, who managed it with ease.

The worst breakdown of the day and probably of the whole trip was Medic Mike’s official vehicle, the Land Rover Discovery. The front shock absorbers complete broke on the high pass and work had to be carried out at the summit in order to get the vehicle mobile. This was very hard work for the mechanics as strenuous work at high altitude has great effects on the human body and it was important they didn’t work at their normal pace making it a very late night in for them.

As we descended the mountain we went through valleys and smaller cols to cross the Brahmaputra river over the new bridge where we saw the old ferry which used to carry vehicles across. The gravel road here became rougher and bumpier with bad gullies crossing our paths.

From here we arrived in Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest town, which was indeed very traditional in appearance. Our rest day tomorrow will allow us to explore it further.

Do Meeus' Jag heading for Shigatse

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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