( 20.08.2012) I can’t believe how lucky we are. Right now life is perfect.
I sit at the beach of a water reservoir in the Himalayas at about 3500 height, the wind blows the temperature to a perfect warmth, the sun on my legs penetrates my jeans and it feels as if it even gets under my skin to warm my bones.
Around me I see nothing but brown mountains, from time to time the train to Lhasa, which winds up the valley, is passing by and blows its horn. The sound is echoing back from the mountains and looses it self somewhere in the far distance of the valley. Paul and I start singing the same song at once (Kings of Convenience, The Build-Up), we both love this song and so we must have thought the same in the exact same moment. Then again, I can hear no birds, no animals at all, only the waves of the lake hitting the shore in a rhythmic beat, the wind is whistling through the rough rocks and reminds me that I am in the highest mountains of the world where the nature can be brutal and beautiful, dangerous an lovely.
The water has dug away part of the sandy shore so that I can lean back against the edge and dig my bare feet in the sand. The lake has the typical color for a reservoir, blue-green, it is ice cold, to cold for swimming.
I take another bite of the spicy sausage we have bought in Golmud at the market. It is the first real sausage we have found here so far, it is so delicious that we both can’t stop eating. It won’t last as long as we planned it to last.
Since I haven’t written a blogpost in the last 6 days, I will make a listing of events. Otherwise it would take the rest if this beautiful day to finish, and that’s not good for I have some chilling out to do.
1. The arrival in Golmud
We in deed got to Golmud at the 15th of August. The wind pushed us and so we rocked 170 km in only 7 hours.
On the way a policeman in civil stopped us and asked us in English if we had called 112 for help. We denied and got to know that probably the two Russians we had met the day before had called the emergency number.
We knew that they had planned to ride through the mountains and now of course were afraid that something had happened to them. So we gave all the information we had to the police. The police obviously didn’t know their exact location and had a hard time finding them. We took our chance to ask the policeman where we could extend our visa in Golmud. The answer was as surprising as simple. :”yes, that is my job, I am the one in Golmud who can extend visas.”
Well, perfect. We made an appointment for the next day and hoped that through our will to help him in his quest he could help us out with our visa.
We actually wanted to stay in a hostel in Golmud but had to take a hotel for hostels were not available. While searching we met a girl called Daria from Ukraine. She was traveling with her brother, Roman and stayed in a hotel near by. It was a weird situation for she already knew us before we met. She and here brother had been reading our blog a while already.
At this point: Greeting to you both, it was fun meeting you. Good luck with your journey.
We decided to go to the same hotel. The Tian Long hotel. A three star rated hotel which, in my opinion, shouldn’t have gotten even one star. Our room was stinking and was dirty, the toilet was leaking water, they were unable to register us for our visa extension, the stuff wa the most incompetent stuff you can imagine and the worse of all:
When checking out the woman at the reception wanted to see all receipts from the days we had payed already. Since I don’t think it is my job to do the paperwork of the hotel I had thrown them all away before, behalves one. She looked at the one recipe and then wanted the rest of the money from me once more. I tried to explain that I had payed everything already but she still didn’t believe me. I got really angry and loud. Then the cleaning women came downstairs with two towels in hand, showing them to the women at the reception which decided that they where way to dirty an that we shoul pay ridiculously much money for the two towels, about 40 euro.
Then I flipped. I couldn’t stay polite any more and let my anger explode at the reception:” First, I have payed everything, second, we had to take the towels to stop the toilet from leaking and flooding our bathroom, third, the room was f***ing dirty and stinking when we go it, fourth, your stuff (since it seemed that she was the manager) is the most incompetent I have ever seen in a hotel, and last but not least two towels don’t cost 320 yen, not even in germany in the Adlon hotel where they are at least clean when you get them. So give me back my deposit now or you will get to kow my dirty side for real.
The people waiting in the launch partly started laughing or turne away to do as if they hadn’t listened.
The women at the reception, which turned out to be the manager herself, opened a box, gave me my deposit with a artificial smile that I have never seen before and that was expressing shame and uncertainty at once. In china, according to the behaviour-book we both have read before (China-Knigge) such an explosion in public space is intolerable and very impolite, but considering the fact that I had actually thought about denying payment for such a room and in the end being asked for even more money, I couldn’t hold my self back an made use of this weapon. I left the hotel like a proud knight that just had won a battle, my bike as my horse and my helmet like my knightly armor.
Back to the days on Golmud, it seems that I don’t succeed in making a short list of events. I’ll try again now.
We did a lot of shopping.
-warm shirt for me since I have lost my old one
-a batterie charger for our camera, the old one was broken
-we bought new sunglasses for the desert storms had kin of sand-brushed our old ones, the quality of Aldi is good, but sometimes not good enough.
- new stickers for our tires, we have stopped counting the broken an flat tires we had. It seems like this roads here are paved with needles and nails.
-lots of food, mostly conserved and compressed for we plan to go very small road from here to Chengdu where stores might be rare.
- two real an genuine zippo’s( probably fake for they cost only 5 dollars both:0) We had decided to make this investment for the normal lighters here brake at first use and our daily budget had suffered severe damage from having to buy at least one lighter a day to be able to light our oven in the evening.
-two Chinese flags which I will put on my helmet and Paul on his bike to impress Chinese police at checkpoints :0)
And that’s all about shopping
The life in Golmud.
- we never really slept long for breakfast in the hotel was from 7 until 9
- we found a restaurant where we ate three times. Very cheap but delicious food. Since we can not read the menu we used to walk through the restaurant and point at meals from other guests.
The waitress there spoke a little English and seemed to like our way of choosing. So she gave us some extras every time we came there. I on the other hand liked the waitress and so we exchanged email- addresses on the last day.
– I saw a mugging on the street when I went for some food for me and Paul at night. A guy came running over the street in front of me. He ran quite low and tried to avoid being seen by any one. I also trie to avoid being seen by him for he looked kind of angryto me. Then he disappeared between two cars. When he came back again he had a knife in his hand. But not just a normal one. The blade was about 30 cm long and mounted to the end of a one meter handle. As he had disappears I saw other people running to the place in-between the cars, screaming and crying. I tried to pass the event without getting involved and saw that a man was lying on the floor bleeding and the others tried helping him.
Not that I didn’t know before but these streets are somewhat more dangerous than I am used to. I returned to the hotel without food.
-we had a few beers on our last evening. The clubs here are not what they are in Germany. Here, you find a club that is more like a hotel with hundreds of rooms and a bar in the center. People go here to sing karaoke with their friends. As we entered the club we were redirected to a room, the door was closed behind us and the music started. It was boring to death and so we left after the second beer, found our selfs a bar that turned out to be just fine. There we stayed a few hours and talked to some locals. It is funny how conversation seems to be getting easier in a language you don’t know when a few beers have flown over your tongue.
I will describe the next story just as we experienced it chronologically ourselves for it won’t be authentic otherwise.
WE LOST OUR PURSE WITH ABOUT 100 DOLLARS AND ALL OUR BANK CARDS IN IT. What a catastrophe.
I was responsible for it in the evening
an in the morning when I woke up it was gone. I couldn’t remember having it when I got home. Paul still knew that I had payed the beer in the bar. That was the last time we saw it. We searched the whole room, looked under the mattresses of our beds, asked the reception and finaly accepted that I had probably lost it in the bar or on the way home. “We have a real problem here”, Paul said. “We can’t get any money from our bank accounts any more, we only have a little money left to pay the room”. He was right. We had about 300 dollar left in our emergency-wallet and a few yen in our pockets. The only option we have now is trieing to get money via a money-transfer or the good will of one of the bankers in Germany. If this doesn’t work, our tour is over. How can we be so stupid to take such an important thing as our bank cards out with us. Simply because we had forgotten to take them out of the wallet after getting money from the bank for shopping food.
What now. We decided to give the bar a try. One of us would have to cycle there and ask for the wallet. A chance that was near zero but still the only chance we had. I felt sick at the thought that our tour could end because we were just to stupid to watch our stuff.
“It is gone, lets try to get used to the fact. We have just thrown away lots of money good willing people have given us for our trip. What a shame. What a shame. I run arround in the room, lifting shirts, cups, blankets an bags once more, but nothing. We haven’t found it and will never get it back. Sorry to all the donators and sponsors.
I unpack my bike to be faster riding to the bar. As I lift of the last low rider bag I see that the zipper is open. I trie to close it but it doesn’t work. Annoyed from the situation and Paul standing
around and doing nothing I rip the zipper open. What I see there is still unbelievable for me. I can’t avoid laughing out loud and looking at Paul, that is still in depression mode.
There it is, the wallet.
There, where it doesn’t belong and I have never ever placed it before.
I am so happy about the fact that don’t even want to know how it got there.
I look at Paul, check if everything is still in it. As the inquiry is completed and everything is still there, Paul and I fall in each others arms. I have never experienced such relief in my life. The wallet was definetly gone in my opinion, the ride to the bar would just have been to prove it. And now in my eyes a wonder happened, something that didn’t exist any more at once lay right in front of me.
The conclusion we drew was, that I must have put it in the bag to prevent it from being stolen by imaginary thieves that probably had gotten into my drunk head. Fact is, that I can’t remember putting it there. Not even three days later. It is like a mystery to me.
Yesterday we left Golmud at about 4 o’clock. We both had a slight hangover from the Chinese beer. No offense, dear Chinese breweries, but your beer is indigestible and gives a bad headache.
We didn’t get far, about 40 km outside Golmud we found a rather unspectacular place to camp.
We ate dinner, which obviously was not that good for me. I had to get up in the middle of the night and puked out everything. After I felt much better an today I was completely fit again.
We started the ascent to the 5000 meter pass and found this beautifully place on the beach of the lake. Now the sun has just disappeared behind the mountains and the wind has stopped blowing.
Time for dinner in our amazing dining room.
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