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Exploring Sichuan - Eastern Tibet Then and Now

03 June 17

Back when the 21st century was in it’s first flush of youth my adventure cycling chum and I developed something of a passion for China’s Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces. We would cycle there from Thailand, via Lao, loaded to the gunwales with tent, and stove, and sleeping bags, and water filter, and sundry paraphernalia in search of wilderness and adventure. 

As anyone who has joined me on the PaintedRoads Yunnan tour is well aware this is a truly beautiful part of the world. But for all the drama that the landscape of Yunnan has to offer it is heading away from the big hills, away from Tibet, away from an altogether other worldly experience. For it is in Sichuan Province to the north of Shangri-La where the real Tibetan world lays. Here we are heading into the Himalayas. Yaks and Tibetan nomads roam the grasslands that sit amidst the world’s most rugged, dramatic and lofty mountains. 

Back in the early noughties as we rode through Sichuan we were crossing passes on our bicycles, higher than any peak in Western Europe on a daily basis. We would wake on the morning, as one does, and as the sun rose and warmed the land we would watch the hues of red play on the towering snow peaks from our tent, warm in sleeping bags and savouring coffee brewed in the wild.

It was clear all those years ago that this was the perfect venue for a Tibet cycling tour. Sichuan is as Tibetan as the Tibetan Autonomous Region, it is as beautiful, it is as buddhist, but for we Western cyclists it has the huge bonus that it is far easier to visit.

And now, after years of pontification and procrastination the time has come to put the Sichuan tour together. Having cycled much of the region on the past I have a good idea of the route I wish to use, and with much bicycle tour experience in the region Cathy and Lee have been able to give tremendous input into the route. Now, for the next couple of weeks Lee, Echo and I are taking a look at what will hopefully be PaintedRoads new tour for 2018 - Eastern Tibet.

I will keep a journel of our journey on this humble blog, updates of which publicised on Facebook.

Cheerio for now

D

Camping high in the Himalayan foot hills

Camp fire merriment 

A typical Tibetan village

Spotting a poor old fellow huffing and puffing and wheezing to the top of a loftey pass these Tibetan kids rushed out to give me a push

Sichuan