“Oh no” I cry out. Never ever had I thought I would think this about a sign that’s promising a down-hill. 10km of down-hill on a nice, paved road with an acceptable amount of traffic. . A cyclist dream, isn’t it? Just rolling, rolling rolling. But I am not happy about it. Or relieved. I rather fear it. Why? you might wonder. Because I am cold. It is cold. My fingers feel as if they are about to fall off as I stop to put on my third coat – the one that is supposed to stop the wind. I constantly wriggle my toes. My scarf covers my face. My hood underneath my helmet is trying to keep my ears from freezing off. Okay, it’s not THAT cold. It’s about zero. But not much. The road stretches in the shade. The wind is strong as I roll down and I brake from time to time just to check if my fingers still obey me. Adding to the no-dinner, I skipped breakfast as I couldn’t find a breakfast place close to my uncomfortable, noisy sleeping spot from last night. So, I am cold. I am tired. I am hungry. On the plus side? No need to pee. Not a crazy amount of trucks on the road.
Checking my phone for the turn-off Reuben send me is futile – the cold let’s it slide from 50% to 30% to 10% to 1%. Not good.
To my left I spot a huge parking lot, a big store and some food stalls. There’s a roof but walls are only on two sides. Typical place for expensive, not good food where the tourist buses stop. I stop. I order soup. Soy milk – hot soy milk. And can charge my phone. Waiting for the noodle-soup I walk around. Trying to get my toes to stop hurting with the cold. My fingers feel okay when I finally spot it. A stove. With benches around. The stove is rather big, rectangular in size. On the top sits a stainless-steel bowl with a bit of water and some eggs. I sit. Stretch my feet towards the heat. Holding my hands out. Nodding at the man sitting next to me. Using the opportunity to practice my Chinese in a small conversation when my soup arrives and I inquire about the eggs, taking a couple. After a few minutes I feel warm. Energy returns. And I am full. Life is good.
“So, to Shigu, you go this way?” I am asked in as simple Chinese that matches my languages skills and the guy is pointing up the road towards the village with the closed road. No, no. I insist the road is closed. “But, going there – there is no road to Shigu.” he insists pointing down the road. Stubborn, I insist on the closed road and he that I am going the wrong way now.
After retrieving my phone, I check the turn-off. Geez – he is right! I already passed the alternative turn-off two k ago! He seems about as relieved as I am that I didn’t go 8 more k, down a steep hill into the wrong direction.