Monthly Archives: July 2012

The loneliness of the long distance

Most of the time I don’t even think about what it means to be a woman on the road. I mean, it’s not as if I have to wake up every morning, pop in my ovaries, strap on my breasts, spend a careful half hour putting on my make-up and then decorously and delicately wend […]

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A warm unwelcome

Qinghai is historically part of Tibet, and many travellers and scholars now claim that if you want to see real Tibetan life, you go to Qinghai rather than to Lhasa, which has become a bit of a theme park in recent years and is, anyway, more and more difficult to get into if you’re not […]

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Out of the wild

Halfway across Qinghai, sensing that I had a cold coming on, I decided to give myself an early night, bought some cake, pitched my tent in a sunny spot between two fields of barley, and rummaged through the (by now substantial) library on my Kindle for some entertainment. (Ercan, the wonderful Turkish cyclist who hosted […]

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I’ve come a long way…

I have a lot more to say about the Qinghai Plateau and, well, everything (you should know me by now), but right now I can’t resist pointing you back to this post, written exactly a year ago, wherein I gripe characteristically about my To Do list and treat you to an uninspiring picture of all […]

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The spaces in between

In centuries past, Dunhuang was one of the most eagerly anticipated towns along the Silk Road, but these days only a hungry, thirsty, exhausted cyclist will really appreciate why. After a month of riding across the scorching, dusty, almost featureless desert, the ten miles of greenery I rolled through on the approach to the town […]

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The dark side of the moon

And now I’m in Xining, finally approaching the centre of China (this country is so impossibly huge – I’ve been riding across it for two months, and I’m not even halfway), having left you in the middle of the Taklamakan Desert, almost two weeks ago. Sorry for the hiatus. As a friend (beautifully) put it […]

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Negatives and positives

To my surprise, the Xinjiang Summer has a lot in common with the Turkish Winter. It’s a bit like looking at the negative of a familiar photograph. The features and contours and details are all the same, yet the whole thing’s a completely different colour. The highway I’m following through the Taklamakan Desert is strikingly similar […]

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