Our worries the night before of bad storms didn't materialise in the end, but the weather was almost cloudless in the morning treating us to fantastic views of the lake and surrounding hills and we couldn't but help feel a little sorry for the supported groups who had been forced to take an alternative route. Andy had livened up overnight, but to allow him maximum time to recover we got stuck into some quality faff around the camp, including taking advantage of the lake to loosen the dust and dirt that had found it's way into all the nooks and crannies. The morning debate settled around how far to bike today, either a short day to the bottom of a long pass or a monster day up and over it; stopping at the top of the pass overnight was not an option due to the altitude. Happily with my legs feeling the effects of yesterday we opted for the former.
The biking today was quite relaxing, tracking round the side of the lake implied zero height climbed and the road surface was good. Soon we were rolling into Nangarste, our destination for the night. If we were expecting a small untouched Tibetan town the Chinese ensured we were to be disappointed. The old Tibetan town had been swamped with a flood of Chinese buildings so that it would not be inaccurate to refer to the Tibetan tenth of town. We tried to check into a Tibetan hostel but the owner seemed to be keener to lead us to a new Chinese hotel, which he also owned apparently. After a bit of messing around, unpacking bags, we dragged our bikes into our dorm; clearly we might miss them in the middle of the night.
With bikes stashed we had some time to explore on foot and we climbed the small hill behind the town to some ruined fort. This gave us an excellent view of the town and it occurred to us that while the Chinese had certainly been busy making sure that the towns remaining Tibetan buildings were to be massively outnumbered at least they had built schools and good roads. At this point the plan was to head over to the monastery and perhaps quiz the local monks about their views of the Chinafication process when my tummy started to grumble a bit. Not feeling on top form I plodded back to the hotel for some Tibetan two step, Delhi belly, Kathmandu quick step. My friends, these are not the names of dances and i shall supply scant details on this episode but suffice to say that we ate in the hotel so I could be close to a bed and, perhaps more importantly, a toilet. Post food Andy "dancing shoes" Cross was keen to head out and view some of the local night spots. The guide book had some advice on this topic, namely don't do it. The reasoning was that there is a large population of stray dogs in Nangarste and while in a restaurant we have the options of whether to eat dog or not it is perhaps advisable to not offer the dogs a reciprocal choice by wondering around at night. Steve saw the wisdom of this argument and threw his weight behind the drinking on the hotel option. here we met some fellow travellers, Amy and Dan, who were hitching the same route that we were biking. This is braver than it sounds given that it is strictly speaking illegal but we took a shine to their plucky spirit and we'll see them again before the trip is out.
During the night, I'm told, there was a bit of excitement which I slept through. A lorry pulled up outside the hotel and soon there was some clamorous rattling of the hotel shutters and generally a worrying fuss going on outside. Steve and Andy thought the Red army had come to take us away so Andy locked the door so they could sort out exactly what they needed to make a quick get away. Steve thought that he could speed this process up by using his torch until it dawned on him that it was a bit of a give away as to which room we were in. Eventually after some panic and pamper changing moments all went quiet so Steve and Andy went back to sleep. Note that through out this incident, while preparing for the worst case scenario of having to leg it ,neither Steve nor Andy took a moment to wake me up. True friends, always thinking of maximising my beauty sleep