Monday, 29th June: In terms of distance, today was a shortish ride at only 258 kms (about 150 miles). However, there were four different mountain passes, so we had a lot of fun climbing and descending the countless hairpin bends. What was alarming to most of the guys, was that in many places there seemed to be no barrier between the side of the road and the seemingly endless drop into either the Mekong or the Yangze rivers, both of which we crossed today. I did find myself being occasionally worried about the steep drop, but just slowed down until I regained my concentration. Fortunately, we didn’t lose anyone over the side of the road!
Despite the high passes, we are now gradually coming down from the Tibetan plateau and with that comes the warmer weather. For warmer, read hot and sticky! There were three main checkpoints today as we officially left Tibet and entered Sichuan Province. That meant a lot of hanging around while the border officials checked and re-checked our paperwork at every checkpoint.
The end result was that by the time we reached the hotel in Batang, I was ripe for a shower, and I use the term ripe deliberately! However, Murphy’s Law kicked in again and there was a power cut at the hotel when we arrived. Now that in itself wouldn’t have mattered too much had we not been allocated rooms on the 6th floor and the power cut meant no lifts! Consequently a few of us went on strike and cooled down in the lobby over a few cold beers until the power was restored … fortunately before anyone though to call for the fumigation squad to search for the bad smell.