A big day out was planned today. Planned but ultimately not executed, we aimed for 135km up and over a pass which would have landed us in Lhatse but we fell a little short of the target. However, with the plan in mind we set off quite early for us and on the way out we bumped into our French friend from yesterday. It seems that one day was not enough for the local authorities to decide what to do with him and so he was asked to come back today. Given his predicament he seemed surprisingly chipper, which again gave us a boost. Upon leaving Gyantse the influence of the Chinese seemed to be greatly lessened, the farmers in the fields looked a lot more Tibetan and the farming methods were a lot more physical and less automated. Before you think that we were being flooded with compassion for these subsistence farmers let me assure you that we were chiefly concerned with the implied lack of tractors to hang on the back of. With an optimistic day planned this would turn out to be crucial and coupled with a head wind determined to blow us back to Lhasa was the deciding factor in not quite making it all the way.
For lunch we stopped at the only town on route which our Tibetan "Questionable accuracy" guidebook had positively fallen over itself in recommending for food. Obviously by this point anyone else using this guidebook had thrown it away as we encountered not a word of English, not a hint of understanding why we might be sat in a little cafe and certainly no great desire to actually try and sell us some food. Clearly things had got off to a bad start so we pulled out a Chinese phrase book Eleanor had armed me with with before leaving. This prompted the locals to go find someone who could read and soon we had a gang of five Tibetans trying to understand what we wanted. Now perhaps I was having a lack of patience moment but surely someone pointing at the phrase 'egg fried rice' (in Chinese) and holding up three fingers, which coincidentally exactly matched the number of mouths at the table, and also given that they are sat in a food serving establishment should have been fairly easy to translate. Twenty minutes later I refuse to believe that they weren't just taking the piss. Still we did eventually get in an order for egg fried rice and potatoes. When it came to paying I can only assume that the price of a local translator is more than your average lawyer in New York or that we had accidentally offered to buy a round for the village. With currency injected into the local economy we moved on.
While we were short of tractors, we did manage a tow behind an oil tanker. Much of the game was the same as a tractor, except it was all played with a bit more speed. About 30km/h. With three people hanging on the back, there was one on either wing with a good view of the road ahead and Andy "Literally see no risk" Cross in the middle with no view of the pot holes in the road at all. The wing spotters tried to navigate Andy "almost lost my family jewels to that hole" Cross as best we could but apparently we weren't perfect. With failing sunlight and failing legs, despite the short boost the tanker had provided, the decision to fall short was made and the Tibetan "On last warning" guidebook mentioned a hostel just past the river in a couple of kilometers. We pulled up in a courtyard and tried to book in but the owners weren't just having trouble understanding our language, they were having trouble understanding what the hell we were up to. Replaying the last 100 meters of biking I noted a lack of any signs anywhere - clearly this wasn't a hostel. That said the owner did offer us a dusty barn to sleep in and let us fill up our water bottles. Back on the road we scanned around for what our guidebook was talking about but came up short so pushed on to a campsite by the side o the road.
With the tent up in plain view of anyone coming past we expected a few curious visitors, probably curious about how well tied down our belongings were, but we were happily disappointed. One chap came alone and watched us break camp, which by now was a fairly slick process. He seemed fascinated by our stove and we gave him a cup of hot chocolate before he got bored, or thoughts of being late home were preying on his mind, and he left. Andy "Master Chef I think not" Cross took over the cooking and we were looking forward to be treated to a ginger and garlic stir fry made with only the finest ingredients. To be polite about the quantities of garlic, there was probably a bit too much for your average vampire. I refuse to be polite about the ginger - there was enough to anaesthetise a small herd of elephants. The food was balanced precariously on the point of being inedible and only the fact that we had little else to spare, no enthusiasm to start cooking again and we were starving from a hard day out encouraged us to wade through it slowly. We advised him against using this recipe on a first date, unless he wanted to be the first man to be charge with assault with a feverish ginger. With Andy suitably chastised we kicked back and watched the stars go by for a while before finally admitting we were freezing to death and headed to bed