Monday, April 24, 2006

Day 234 - Yege Xiang to Qumahe

Start: Yege Xiang, Qinghai, China
End: Qumahe Xiang, Qinghai, China (95 deg E, 34 deg 50' N)
Distance: 58 km
Time: 5'38"
Avg: 10.4 k/h
Max: 32 k/h
Total: 10,647 km
Total riding days: 127
Riding hours: 0930 - 1615

Snow overnight; bright morning, which became cold with a bitter wind. The local policeman showed up in my hovel to see me off in the morning.

Two passes. Unbridged river crossings, but still cold enough to keep the rives mostly frozen, open water no more than 20 metres or so across. The large river, the red-silty Qu Ma He, is bridged just before the track reaches Qumahe Village.

I come close to dying, again, but not for any of the reasons that Asmund might have predicted. The problem: carbon monoxide poisoning. I find a nice warm room in Qumahe; at the centre is a yak-dung stove, on which a cauldron of yak-hooves is boiling up for the dogs. I assume they will be done by bed-time. Not so. The hooves boil away all night; they don't smell great, but then neither do I.

The CO levels rise though, and I don't sleep much - every hour or so I take a stride into the frozen night to gulp in some fresh air.

Qumahe Village has a few shops and even a Muslim restaurant run by a guy from Xining - what persuaded him to leave the big city and run a business out here I don't know. Maybe he makes good money - the place is certainly popular with the Tibetan locals. No electricity pylons, no telegraph wires reach Qumahe, though. It is wonderfully cut off - although they've got a satellite phone installed now and a set of solar panels that generates enough power for each household to run a low-energy lightbulb.

One shop sells the best moon-cakes in China. It's worth the trip.

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