We had a lateish (8am) breakfast with our new friends the Dutch couple (whose names we cannot spell) and Ervin, the funny German man. They were heading off by car to Songpan, where a previous route we had planned may have taken us, but where we were no longer too envious of having seen the snow which we may have had to cycle through! Pancakes for breakfast were delightful, though admittedly a far cry from my French granny’s!
After the first five kilometres out of town, we were treated to a great snake of a road. As some young monks riding with me on their motorbike told me (young is relative, I cannot guess anyone’s age here!), it was all downhill from here… Our first days in China leaving us disappointed and stressed due to the constant honking, and our last days in China likely to be similar, we are very aware this is meant to be the most pleasurable part of riding throughout the Middle kingdom, and so it proved.
For the following 120 kilometres, until light faded, we followed one river, the right way! From a small stream in a deeply cut valley to a bigger river, we free wheeled through Tibetan villages of the most picturesque variety following the flow and accelerated by the same force, on roads smooth enough to skate on! The views were great and such a pleasure to see with such ease. The worst bit was having to stop to take photos!
We finally stopped in Maya to a big bowl of egg fried rice and pork (Alex is loving the fact people here are no longer Muslim). The owners of the restaurant then offered us to stay in a spare flat they owned, though they thought we would not want to go as there was no electricity – as if! As we were getting into bed, a highly enthusiastic neighbour came to knock on our door, and after finishing a cigarette and leaving the stub on our floor, invited us to his flat. We went and met his lovely wife, his adored bike, and his cherished picture of Chairman Mao.
The welcome was very generous indeed to the point that when they extracted from us that we may be a little hungry, the wife ran off and brought back… Instant noodles!