We wake to the sound of a dozen Chinese voices preparing for the big ride. Some of them have rolled in at 10 last night but are the first to get up. At their rate, they’ll need it. Only the Hunan group is still around when we finally make it down the stairs. Of our plans to get up at the crack of dawn is not much left.

We put our sweaty and dirty riding gear back on, wipe the sleep grime off our faces and stumble into the kitchen where we’re supposed to get breakfast. And breakfast there is: the owner’s lovely wife (who could really be his daughter) serves us two large helpings of noodles and wraps up a large, freshly-baked baba (a dry wheat cake) for our trip. The neighbouring shop complements our supplies with some drinks and a smile wide enough to allow a small truck to pass.

Pete enjoying breakfast in the inn's kitchen
Pete enjoying breakfast in the inn’s kitchen