had a dose of Han China in Lanzhou, we soon reached the boundaries, as we pushed west. We were aiming for Labrang Monastery, a large Tibetan Buddhist monastery nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, and passing through a predominantly Muslim area. The first town of the day was Linxia, a hub on the old southern Silk Road, and a stronghold of Chinese Islam. The road was less hectic than the day before (it’s probably a good thing that I forgot to rant about the drivers in yesterday’s post, it would have taken up most of the page: let’s just say that Chinese drivers are rather too trigger happy with their horns for our taste!) and we had a gentle ride into Linxia, arriving in time for a bowl of hot beef noodles, a regional speciality. Unfortunately Nick was feeling worse, so we decided to take it easy, stopping for a break by a toll booth where, as far as we could tell you just beep if you don’t want to pay, and will be let through (presumably we’re missing something…?). A little distance before the turnoff to Labrang, we stopped at a restaurant where the owner kindly allowed us to sleep in one of the rooms used for private dinner parties. A short photo shoot ensued with the family, who caught Nick topless in his sleeping bag, and proceeded to snap away anyway.