Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Burgers vs noodles

Well I've seen quite a bit of China and it's not quite as I'd imagined. Still the McDonalds rip off "Best Burger" has been a pleasant surprise. But supassing even this has been the quite remarkable Mogao caves near Dunhuang with their extraordinary Buddhist artwork dating back nearly 2000 years or the immense sitting buddhas which took my breath away as I wandered into the first room containing one. Up to 36 metres high and carved directly out of the cliff these creations are my highlight of China so far. Not that there has been too much competition. I've camped next to a railway line and a main road, or yesterday I slept out in the desert (perhaps due to 7 beers and alot of vodka at 3000m altitude) and woke up covered in sand. Today we have witnessed remarkable scenery on the run in towards Tibet. Rarely have I seen grimmer industrial waste land/desert. On a plateau at around 3000m it varied from salt wrecked earth to industrial sludge lakes and barely functioning ruined towns. We almost missed out on all this however as the one bridge across the main local river was being rebuilt on one lane and the other lane had a cement mixer in the middle of it that the workers refused to move. As queues (of lorries mainly) built up on both sides of the bridge violence and murder looked likely. That is until a policeman turned up and persuaded the workers to move the offending equipment.

Tomorrow we hit the first of the really high passes (over 4900m) and we'll see how the altitude problems are going to be. More from Lhasa...... hopefully.

This was originally written on 10 August 2005. It is from my summer trip to Central Asia, China and Tibet.


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