Despite wishes of Happy Easter and chocolate eggs being distributed in the breakfast hall, Day two of the Trans Himalayan Adventure started on a sad note.
Last night Car 3, the 1925 Rolls Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost of Chris Evans and Mark Seymour, reported some issues with the car’s manifold. Despite the sweeps working into the small hours to try and get it ready for today, the crew decided that given the climb ahead the best and safest option was to leave the car in Yajiang. Chris and Mark then jumped into a support vehicle until a car and driver can be sourced once in Tibet.
Once on the road, it was straight into the climb to the Janza Pass, reaching a high point of 4,436m above sea level. A whopping 18 hair pins later, and we reached our second pass of the day – the stunning Kazila Pass. All before elevenses!
On the way, there were numerous local cyclists making the pilgrimage to Lhasa so having horse power rather than pedal power provided some comfort. The weather was glorious and having only caught a glimpse of a blue sky yesterday, our first since arriving in China, created the most gorgeous landscape.
As we came from the highest summit, the scenery changed with brightly coloured houses appearing. This is a new winter village for those who live in the mountains when it gets cold our knowledgeable guide Jimmi explains.
We drove through the bustling town Litaing to the Long Youth Cole Monastery. As the cars lined up in front of the steps to courtyard leading to the three main temples, the monks and local workers appeared to welcome them to the town.
Nothing like these array of vehicles containing a group of westerners has ever come to this area before and caused quite a stir. Children and youths posed with the cars and drivers while some were more inquisitive as to what was under the bonnet. David and Julia Little even had the mudguard on their 1925 Bentley Super Sports cleaned by an enthusiastic local who just wanted to be a part of the event. And would have cleaned the whole car if time allowed.
The crews were also interested to see what was inside the monastery. Rich tapestries, vibrant paintings and ornamental statues adorned the walls and ceiling as the monks in the temple went about their daily prayers.
All the cars managed to get to the Monastery although Dominic and Rosie Collins’ MK2 Jaguar was in need of some TLC from the sweep crew as it was over-fueling. A quick clean of the spark plugs and a bit of tinkering with the ‘mixture’ and they were back on the road and even had time to throw up a quick prayer asking for their troubles to be over.
The route to the night halt took us through the Wetlands National Park which was apt given a small snow shower was followed by a downpour of rain.
Michael and Anne Wilkinson in the 1937 Alvis 4.3 were a bit concerned to be stopped by police this afternoon but thankfully it was just for photos.
Climbing back up to 4,400m, we were greeted by snowcapped mountains and frozen lakes, with our first smattering of snow on the roads, before beginning the slow descent to Batang. In the base of the valley, it was bath time at a natural hot spring while locals sold their wares to passing trade.
On arrival at the hotel, the cars were again surrounded by the locals and unlike last night, there wasn’t too much spanner work needed. Maybe the cars are becoming as acclimatised to the altitude as the crews are? Sweeps Gary Pickard and Gary Oliver had opened a spark plug cleaning service and were doing a roaring trade before the entire rally went for a lovely Sichuan banquet.
If today felt full of twists and turns, our crews should brace themselves for tomorrow as we go to our highest altitude to date – and have 72 hairpins to get through!