In April 2010, Eleanor Moseman left Shanghai on a journey of more than 10,000 miles, across 3 countries, on one bicycle. This is where she updates from the road.
  1. Yaxi, my Tibetan “little brother”.

    I had arrived in Xiangcheng, Kham (Southwestern Sichuan) and was looking for a cheap place to stay. Repeatedly getting turned away because I was a foreigner. I had expected this as the city has a massive amount of police.

    Walking down an alley, to check out a possible place, to check out a Tibetan hotel, Yaxi caught my eye but I turned away because my first impression was of beauty yet complete intimidation. He was also standing outside a gambling/arcade (he actually works there).

    He tried to get my attention but I refused because I have my “rules”.

    Running behind, he caught up with me and I couldn’t refuse talking. I stumble over my Chinese because I’m completely caught off guard.

    We make the brief introductions, where I’m from, what I’m doing, and what I need. Yaxi, you are gorgeous.

    From my photos, you would think that all Tibetans walk around in their traditional dress…but there is also the modern, city, Tibetans. Yaxi is a year younger than I.

    He insists on pushing my bike for me. Chivalry is not dead among the Tibetans. We try 3 different hotels, continually getting turned away.

    Pushing up a hill he looks at me and says, “you can stay at my home”…I stammer and reassures me his “wife” is at home through his beautiful and gentle smile.

    To make this story a little shorter, I ended up spending 6 days there with them. I had lost my eyeglasses a few km back and was walking around with sunglasses at night. They did find a motorcycle and his wife drove me to the edge of town a few days later where I found my crushed eyeglasses…with one lens. I would live without eyeglasses for 14 days.

    They were the most pleasant hosts and I didn’t spend a cent. We took walks, visited the temple, spent nearly every moment together. I would hang out at the gambling joint. Man, those Tibetans like to gamble!

    One afternoon, out on the stoop, where this photo was taken…there was a very heated debate for an hour or so about “The D.L.”. Yaxi and his wife ARE Tibetans from Qinghai and they had workmates that were Han. There was screaming and shouting…when the Tibetans walked through the alley, they would either run quickly by or stand back listening to the conversation. I was hiding in the shadow behind the door, keeping a look out for police.

    Yaxi and his wife look at me…I understood most of this conversation…and they look at me in sincerity and ask me in Chinese…”what do you think”? I sink into my chair and I say, “I’m an American…YOU KNOW what I think.” This is enough for them.

    Last week I spoke to Yaxi on the phone briefly, he can not speak English. We ended up communicating more via text message. He is currently at his home in Kangding. He wants me to return to spend more time with him and his family. We briefly discussed the current situation and we both agree that I “can’t” come right now because it’s “very very very bad”, “but after”…”after” what I ponder.

    Yaxi reassured me and that he and his family are okay, as I worry of him. Yaxi, my little brother…my thoughts are with you, your family, and all the Tibetans. “meiguoren he xizangren pengyou”


  2. Moments of the past

    Camp in Qinhai on the way to Tibet, with Brandon Wallace, under the Qinghai/Tibet Railway.

    Taking a break along Namucuo, highest salt lake water in the world. 2nd day solo in Tibet, heading West.

    Tibet at 5280m altitude. Physical ailments are beginning to become noticeable. Hungry and tired.

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  3. Bike Doctor

    The ride was taken in today for some maintenance and cleaning. She’s getting a new derailleur for sure. Jason had an epiphany that maybe a MTB component would hold up better for me. It’s not like I’m lying her down on the right side, but still, an awful lot of vibrations, dirt, dust, and just all around muck.

    My replacement tires finally arrived. TRUST ME, NEVER NEVER NEVER, SKIMP on a pair of good tires. After I met the “Potrait of the LBX” guys and claimed no flats in 5000km I kicked myself in the a$$ REALLY HARD! Our first day in Qinghai, I got 3 flats in 10 minutes – in the rain…in the city. NO MORE. I swear to …

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  4. Pause…just press ‘PAUSE’…for a minute!

    Financial banking crisis – I must go back to Shanghai to work this out.

    Also, Jason wants to leave China in December so I must move.

    I’m devastated to say the least…actually, I don’t know what I’m really feeling. My eyes are swollen from hours of crying…feeling like a failure…seeing 16 months of work and dedication ‘end’.

    No, I think not…I don’t give up that easily. It sucks when you are defeated by money, or lack there of. Of all the obstacles I’ve faced, money is the one that wants to stop this adventure.

    I’m in Qinghai, and upon arrival, I was immediately charged to keep going. It’s absolutely beautiful here, riding through mountains, spotting a lone monk down in a valley. Old temples and Muslims whizzing by on their motorcycles. No coal in the air here.

    This post is going to be much shorter than how I really feel and what I’m thinking…as I am really confused and scattered. I didn’t think this would happen, and so abruptly.

    I checked my account less than 12hours ago and have already lined up a substitute teaching job that will bring in 2500 rmb and hooked up with some previous students to bring in some cash.

    Ohhhhhhh, you haven’t seen the last of me Western China…you sure haven’t.

    What has the last 4 months done to me…made me hungry, ‘like wolf’. I want my language skills to be the best and I want to make those images that say something – real. Not just your touristy run of the mill stuff.

    I wanted this so bad…I wanted this trip, this ride, this experience, so bad. I haven’t worked this hard for something in a long time and there is no way in heck I’m going to be defeated by something like, money.

    Yeah, I read the blogs of other cyclists…and their whole thing about, “we aren’t sponsored, we are doing this on our own dime…blah blah blah”.

    Well, just because you are sponsored doesn’t mean you have a big fat bank roll. Being sponsored meant that I, you, spent countless hours researching and writing emails to companies. With perhaps 1 in 10 willing to help. Do you know what it feels like to ask for help, it’s not really all that dignifying, at least for me. That’s a personal battle of mine for another time – I hate asking for help.

    Being sponsored means you can’t just quit because you are tired or feel like it.

    It also means promising things in return for their generosity and support.

    Don’t worry sponsors – I’ll be back in that saddle in no time.
    Don’t worry fans and friends – I won’t disappoint – I promise.

    With a little time and money making, I can hopefully repair my failing drive chain, get tires (I only had 3 flats 2 days ago…yeah, 3 in one day – balls!), a new pair of shoes, and a better pair of shorts (i’ve got raw saddle sores).

    My 2 months plan – make money, repair the ride, make some images locally, pack my crap up except 4 panniers and that beautiful and lovely Saga. Oh, and of course, post some pics.

    Tailwinds and Godspeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!