"The bike felt the same as usual, fully loaded, it’s pegs occasionally scraping the ground as I forced it into the tight twisting switchbacks up through the escarpment.  But something was different, something in my head. I rode in ‘autopilot mode’ letting my mind wander. This was it, this was the big one. We wouldn’t be home in a few days with some stories to tell. We wouldn’t be up the pub with our mates, back to work next week."    


"We were about to head off when suddenly the woman pulled a face like she’d just trodden barefoot in a big pile of dog poo. Saying something like “Na im ping ta’aaaaaa” she pointed at the road.  She then started to do what looked like some kind of contemporary dance, flailing her arms in the air, which we took to mean that we should turn around and go back the way we’d just come. Us?  Will and Kate the great adventurers?  No way!   No road was going to get the better of us."


"On closer inspection though, things appeared a little different. The Soup was actually a bowl of hot water. In it floated a hunk of animal, half a potato and a piece of carrot. The surface of the water was covered in a layer of fat that floated around in big bubbles. The loaf of bread, made before the beginning of time, was so hard I couldn’t break it in my hands and we had to took it in turns dipping the whole loaf into the hot fatty water."


"The dark grey and black rock face of the mountains up here was deeply fractured and looked so fragile, as if it could just all tumble down at any minute. We kept moving, the bikes slithering around on the tyre punishing broken rock and gravel surface. We’d left the border behind four massive Chinese registered trucks. The way they managed to negotiate some of the rough and tight corners was amazing. I took advantage of a straight section of road and overtook. I cruised along in front of the lead truck waiting for Kate to get past before we sped off. We entered another straight section and I checked my mirrors to see if she was coming. I could see her headlight shining through the dust but then to my horror I saw it suddenly disappear down towards the ground. I skidded to a stop and ran back down the road, my mouth dry and head spinning with ‘what ifs'."