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I sat on the balcony, breathing in the view of the massive mountains on the opposite side of the valley. In front was the temple village of Kalpa. Slowly, slowly, the shadows of the mountains behind crept up the mountains in front until it faded to darkness.

The weather changed with a thunderstorm at 2am last night. It was cloudy and beautiful weather for climbing up the valley today.

The narrow road was cut out of a vertical cliff in parts. In others it dropped down to run just above the river.

There were lots of hydro electricity plants and lots of military garrisons. Regularly I was passed by one military truck after the next. You can tell this is near the disputed border with China.

The highlight was the climb from the valley to the capital of the district – Reckong Peo, and then up to the temple village of Kalpa. It was a bit of a slog though. Kalpa is over 1000m above the river.

I’m all kitted out for a forey tomorrow across the inner line – the area near the Chinese border.

‘And you switch it on for hot water.’
The hotel manager dangled the electric wire in the bucket of water, plugged the end into the power socket, and flicked the switch. There was a flash from the bucket in the dim, concrete floored room as the manager smiled, the fan creaking rhythmically in the background.

My spare battery sat happily on top of the fan control unit, the plug made taught in the socket with a rubber band. My clothes were sprawled out on the bed. I had decided not to climb the 700m up the side of the valley to the temple. I was hot and tired and I could feel the cramp coming on in my leg. Instead of the climb, I decided on an early night and an early start to bring myself to cooler climes.

I’m glad I did. I had a nice experience watching the shoemaker fixing up the crack in my sandals, and checked out the hot springs. I also had brief success eeking out a few WhatsApp messages at the cyber café.

After a breakfast at the happy chef’s restaurant from last night, I had a wonderful decent into the valley – nearly 2000m along a good quality road, not so steep to necessitate braking, with beautiful views.

I even met some other cyclists – Jessica and Thomas from NZ who have just finished the Karokorum Highway.

The valley was beautiful, and the road followed it, slowly rising higher and higher above the brown rushing water.

The road continues upward tomorrow – bringing me closer to the Spiti Valley. Yay!

Well. It wasn’t how I planned, but I’m here in one piece, as is the bike. No ordered taxi but an oversized motor rickshaw to my Dehli hotel at 1am. A 12 hour drive through the Himalayan traffic jam to the ski station (so the sign says) of Narkanda. The cycling can begin.

The plane was 2 hours late and my taxi driver didn’t show up. On ringing the hotel, they said they’d send him. I rang again half an hour later and they said I should find my own taxi.

I passed trough the crowds of taxi drivers offering exhorbitant rates, people pulling my packed trolley left and right, and ended up with my prepaid taxi slip being led to an oversized motor rickshaw. Somehow the bike fit, and we drove off into the Delhi night smog.

The driver didn’t know where the hotel was, so we stopped at the police to ask, called out to a homeless guy curled up in front of a shop window, and asked some dudes just hanging out, with their bellies exposed to the elements, China style.

I got to the hotel at 2am and then proceeded to put my bike together.

It all worked, and I smiled. I was one step closer to starting!

It was scorching outside as my taxi took me and bike through the heat along the dead straight freeway, lined from beginning to end with ‘dhabas’ – places to stop for food.

Finally the road started winding into the hills – and the traffic started banking up. The mountains are beautiful – not high yet, but very very steep. The road curls along their side with steep drops above and below. Villages consist of buildings on top of each other marching down the slopes.

The plan was to reach Shimla by 3. We were there as the sun was setting. My hotel and starting point of the bike trip was 60km past Shimla. We got there at 21:30. I’m knackered, and feel bad for my poor driver who must be even more tired. He had a 12 hour working day. I gave him a nice tip.

The bike is 26kg. I thought it would be 20. The second check in bag is 16kg. I thought it would be 12. That’ll be $700. Ouch. Time to panic.

Lucky Aaron was there to calm me. I stress out in situations like this. I repacked, had 2 heavy but not too volumous pieces of hand luggage and 33kg of check in luggage. Cost – $0.

It was good to catch up with my cycling buddy Mark again. We cycled together in Tajikistan, Krygyzstan and Laos.

This time he was giving meet tips of amazing, secluded monasteries high in the remote Himalayas, and beautiful side roads across the high, barren landscapes. He had been talking about it all last night, apparently. We both got excited – him from the memories and me from the expectations.

A walk,

and a dimsum later,

and I find myself in Hong Kong airport again ready for the last leg to Delhi, and then taxi to Shimla. Bring it on.

I jumped on the saddle again after a few months in Adelaide to go to Sydney for Christmas. To make it interesting, I passed by Mt. Koscuiszko – Australia’s highest mountain. Here is a video of this little escapade.

Morning push-ups, and it was the first time I have listened to it since I arrived. Infecteded Mushrooms. The music had been on for 5 seconds and I started to sob. I was instantly transported back to Borneo. And to Sulawesi. And so many other places. Rocketing through the landscape. And now it is all over. I couldn’t continue the push-ups, so shaking I was with tears.

‘You need to try meditation,’ said friend Tim a week earlier.
I looked at him.
‘Your mind is turning around and around like a mouse on a treadmill. You need to come to rest. You need to stop.’
My mind alternates from thinking about the trip, and how it is over, and how I don’t know what happens now. And then I think about the trip again.

Three days after arriving in Brighton I went to Sydney to visit my German friend Tim who was there with his partner, and to visit my family. Then a few days in Adelaide before a houseboat trip on the Murray River with family and friends. In between the moving my brain attempts to process all this. I haven’t got far with this process yet.

Murray River

Murray River

Clement and I are planning quite a bit of off road legs heading south from Alice Springs, and so our arrival in Adelaide will be delayed by 2 weeks. We are planning to meet anyone interested in joining us at Wilpena Pound on the 14th of September, and arriving in Adelaide on the 27th of September.
I will keep this page updated, so bookmark it if you are interested in joining us on the final stretch to Adelaide.

Jetty Road, Brighton, Adelaide

Jetty Road, Brighton, Adelaide