I wake up feeling a little bit under the weather. It’s freezing cold outside but the sun is casting a few promising rays across the city. We warm up with a large bowl of Tenchong Ersi, find out that Sandy’s Camelbak only holds one litre of water instead of the expected two, and head out towards the mountain.

The going's a bit tough in the beginning
The going’s a bit tough in the beginning

The road is dusty and filled with trucks. Looking left and right, however, our souls are soothed by peaceful pastures, grazing yak and brilliantly white Tibetan houses gleaming in the morning sun. They build their houses quite differently from China’s other minorities, usually preferring large, fortress-like houses with beautifully adorned window frames, wood features and roofs consisting of wooden panels held down with stones. Larger ones also feature a courtyard.