Day 39: August 30th
Shangri-la is in a valley and there are a lot of mountains nearby. We decided that today would be a great day to do some biking. Unfortunately, it had rained all night and was still drizzling in the morning.
We were meeting our guide, Andrew, an American who relocated to China 6 years ago with his wife and three boys and now runs an adventure tour company called Thin Air Adventures. I cannot praise Andrew enough. Inspite of the awful weather, he still made our day really awesome. Most guides may have said its too dangerous to cycle etc., but Andrew had a really positive spirit. Because of the rain we decided to only do a half day tour instead of a full day one.
We were going to be driven to the top of a mountain from where we would cycle down 30km into the valley to a small village called Nixi. The village is known for is pottery and we were going to visit one of the families known to Andrew. By the time we got to the top of the mountain…it was still raining. We had been driving for an hour in roads cut into the mountains…it was a bit scary as most sections looked like a landslide just waiting to happen.
We decided to not cycle the entire 30km..but just to get a feel for it, Emily, Will and I decided to cycle for a few km. After all, we wanted to say we cycled at 3500 mts in Shangri-la. Andrew said he would follow us closely to make sure we were safe.
It was quite cold but the bike ride was exhilarating! 🙂 I wish we could have cycled longer but the rain just didn’t let up.
Once we got back into the jeep, Bill and Will rode on top of the jeep for a while until the rain got a bit heavier and we were all hauled back inside the jeep.
It was now time to visit the family in Nixi. Nixi Valley, located north of the Tibet road after Napa Lake is famous for Tibetan black pottery which is a family business and a skill passed on from generation to generation. The unusual thing to note is that they do not use the wheel as is used for pottery in most other parts of the world. They use flat wooden handles and other instruments to make their pottery smooth and then carve or paint on to it. We watched the family at work and you can tell it takes a lot of skill and even more hours of practice.
We had packed lunches from Shangri-La which the family very graciously let us eat in their home. Of course, they also served us some Baijiu which I politely declined. After the last incident, I decided it would be best to stay clear from it!:)
We then made our way back to Shangri-La where we bought tickets to our next destination. It was still raining and really cold in our rooms. For a town that gets so cold, it’s surprising they don’t have heating in the rooms or any restaurants. The cafe was warmer so we all ended up there once again. It was our last night together…and so we decided it only fit to have some good Tibetan food for dinner….lots of yak meat! I have to say,I’m getting used to it now.:)It doesn’t taste any different from beef actually.
We said our good byes after dinner. We had an eight hour bus journey to Dali coming up.
I’m certainly going to miss this group. Even though we had only met them four days ago, we all felt like we had known each other for a long time. Glad to have met them all and we’ve already made plans to meet some of them next month in Europe! 🙂