Since we had spent all that effort getting up into the mountains we decided to spend a couple of days up on the plateau before heading back down to Qiemo. It was nice camping somewhere with such a view, purely for the enjoyment of it, and not solely as a means to sleep as it is on a normal day of cycle touring.The weather turned on our second day up in the mountains and rain and snow came in. It continued throughout the next day but had cleared up by the time we were making our way out of the mountains and back to Qiemo.
Altogether it had been a week since we left the city. We were now cutting into our visa time, André and I only had 60 days that we planned to extend in Chengdu the capital of Sichuan, two provinces over. Getting up into the mountains had given us a taste of plateau scenery, and the next province we were going to, Qinghai, was said to be in culture and landscape. Most of the province is up on the Geographic Tibetan plateau and was historically a Tibetan province. So we were very excited to get cycling out there. Knowing that there wasn’t much more on offer from the Xianjang desert that we hadn’t already seen and not wanting to be rushed for the next part of the trip that we wanted to enjoy we decided to hop on a bus into Qinghai and be done with it.
So we rode back to Qiemo, spent one more night there before getting the morning bus out to Roqiang where we transferred to the night bus out of Xianjiang. Getting all our stuff onto the night bus was a bit of a hassle, one of the guys working as a driver had loaded up a ton of freight in the luggage compartment to make a bit of cash in the side. This is pretty common almost everywhere we’ve been, and usually there’s enough space for the passengers luggage too, but we have three bikes and all the luggage on top of that. So there was a bit of an altercation when he saw everything we wanted to squeeze into the luggage compartment. We were happy to pay for all the extra stuff we were trying to bring with us, and once that was communicated everything was sorted out.
One night bus ride later we arrived in Golmud (Germu). We had left Xianjiang province behind and entered Qinghai. Golmud is the last stop in a city before Lahsa on the Trans-Tibet highway and newly constructed railway. We, of course, are not allowed to go to Tibet. Apparently just outside of Germu was a pretty serious checkpoint making sure everyone heading south along the Tibet road had the proper papers. We were turning East to ride across Qinghai towards Sichuan province, and by all rights should be allowed to continue. As long as the guards at the checkpost trusted us we should be allowed to continue…