Sangke Grasslands

04:25 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

With the town of Xiahe disappearing behind me, I stole one last glance over my shoulder before heading off towards the huge expanse of the Sangke grasslands. The sky was beautifully blue and my hired bike glided over the roads. The grasslands around Xiahe are famous in western China and I knew cycling to them would be something special.

I didn't know how long it would take to travel to the grasslands but set off regardless. The surrounding hills began to tire allowing the valley to open up. I swept along the road, constantly craning my neck to take in all the panoramic views. I was alone with the birdsong, which was only occasionally disturbed by a passing car or cart. I began to measure the day by the number of 'hellos' and waves I received.

Quickly the hills receded to the horizon and toyed with a few wisps of cloud. The flowers across the plain were in full bloom, filling the air with perfume (and allergic reactions for mollycoddled westerners like me). The colours I saw were beautiful and the scale of the environment became overwhelming. The further I cycled, the larger the grasslands became. The ride was interrupted whenever I stopped to take pictures. This happened a lot. I'd soon be back on the bike, gunning it along the perfectly smooth road. I had to keep checking my speed because I was really enjoying the ride but I was conscious about using up all my energy out in the middle of nowhere. My smile was beaming.

Occasionally a motorcyclist would slow down for a chat. Mischievously, local children would run to the roadside and wave and shout 'hello'. My reply would be met with the children barrelling around in excitement.

After an hour of cycling I reached my destination, which was quite disappointing. A visitor centre had been constructed but it was totally over developed and ruined the scenery. I glided through on my bike and left as quickly as I'd arrived. I could have stayed longer but I was craving the road again. The destination was irrelevant, the joy was in the journey.

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