14degrees off the beaten track
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August 2nd, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,China (Qinghai)

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Today’s distance / ???????: 68 miles / 109km
Average speed / ????: 11.7mph / 18.8km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 48m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 5690mi plus 377mi (?) / 9158km plus 606km (?)
Ascent / ??: 155m
Descent / ??: 895m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N36° 37′ 19.60″, E101° 47′ 02.60″

Scorching day. 109km. Beautiful. As I was lying in bed at 7am this morning, I was thinking that so long as I had a tailwind and downhill all day today, I’d be able to make it to Xining in one day. Downhill and tailwind it was! Awesome.

I left Xihai late. It was not until 10am that I got away. The attraction was this:

Nuclear Weapons Research Base Exhibition Hall in Xihai, Qinghai Province, China

The 1st Research Base of Nuclear Weapons China Exhibition Hall. I was fascinated by this, and had to have a look. I waited until the 9am opening time. I got away with not paying the 25RMB entrance fee, and just as well, because everything was in Chinese. It was not all that great, but curious all the same. It seems that there is more to this litte mysterious town of Xihai than meets the eye.

I escaped without any radiation poisoning, and made my way east, downhill.

Short fruit stop in Haiyuan paid off with delicious peaches. Eaten with a spoon, because I can’t be bothered peeling them, and I don’t have any water to wash them with.

When you don't want to peel the skin...delicious peaches east of Xihai, Qinghai Province, China

Stopped by a lake. Very nice.

Lake east of Xihai, Qinghai Province, China

Near a lake east of Xihai, Qinghai Province, China

Photo taken by passers by who had driven from Beijing to see Qinghai Lake. Took them 4 days of driving. I’ll take about two months to cover a similar distance.

Near a lake east of Xihai, Qinghai Province, China

Further down the road, I joined with China National Highway 109, the highway that goes all the way from Beijing to Lhasa (Tib*et). Anyone fancy skating that one? Someday perhaps…two 5,000m plus high passes, and many 4,000m plus passes…mmmmm.

China National Highway 109 from Beijing to Lhasa...someday...

After a while I got bored with the winding, twisting Highway 109, and snuck onto the new expressway. Straight and smooth, all the way down to Xining city, with an awesome tailwind.

Old China National Highway 109 and new expressway to Xining, Qinghai Province, China

Arriving in Xining at 4pm, I stopped in at an internet cafe and searched for a place to stay. I had heard that there were youth hostels here, and I soon found the Sunshine Pagoda International Youth Hostel. For 35RMB (3.5 Euro) for a dorm bed, I couldn’t go wrong. Nice place with lovely staff.

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    Permanent Link     Comments (6)

Comment by Chris J — August 4, 2008 @ 9:37 am | post a comment

Hi Rob,

Just finished reading another of your great updates. Glad to see you back on the road and back in your element.

How did you get that amazing picture of the hawk? It looks like the kind of thing your would have to do at a zoo…

Wishing you all the best for the remainder of your trip.

Take care.

Comment by Joel — August 4, 2008 @ 10:13 pm | post a comment

Wicked travels, as usual.

If you are still making videos, this band is running a contest. Could be good PR for you


Comment by Aunty Les — August 5, 2008 @ 2:42 pm | post a comment

Glad to hear the enthusiasm back in your blog now you're back into the 'off the beaten track'. All that 'civilised' stuff had obviously got to you.

Comment by wim harwig — August 5, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob,

The red shirt you are wearing on the photo …

Is it the same you had in the Netherlands ? Must be of perfect quality ! Travelled all the way around the globe ;-)

Comment by Rob Thomson — August 5, 2008 @ 6:13 pm | post a comment

Wim, it is indeed the same New Zealand merino wool shirt! The shoulders are wearing out a bit (where I was weraing my pack in the US), but it is still going strong. Icebreaker is the brand. I'll be getting another one.

Comment by malcolm — August 8, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | post a comment


Icebreaker is amazing.. however it is not as amazing as it was for a few reasons, the main two being the fact they outsourced all manufacturing to china and they use lower quality wool now. for example, I have a base layer shirt that is just a little too itchy to wear as a base layer…

My glowingskies shirt on the other hand… it is amazing. and happier.



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