First a mountain, then the return


DaliWhen I walk into town each morning, I pass everything from small crumbly buildings with classic Chinese roofs curved up at the ends, short, stooped wrinkly old men and women, people resting by their carts or slurping up noodles, villagers coming into market with baskets on their backs. But over everything is the Can Shan mountain range, parallel with the Lake Er Hai which Dali is built beside.


Tonight I'm going to climb up to a small guesthouse at 3000m, perched above the town. I'm going up with a French friend I've made in town - he's here setting up a trekking company and putting together a guidebook for the remoter regions of Tibet. We'll spend a few days up there, and use it as a base to climb to the peak of the Can Shan mountains.


After two weeks in Dali, enjoying a rest, time to write and potter about and best of all make some local friends, I've decided to finish the journey. The mountain peak will be the point of return.


Of course, it's been a big decision.


I'm a happy man. I've always gone on big bike rides when there's been something on my mind. In a way this one wasn't much different - just a little bigger than before.


After 7000 kilometres, shortly before arriving in Dali, something went click. To work out quite what the click meant to me took a week, some good long phone calls back home (for which I'm very grateful) and I don't want to know how many pages of my diary (I've got an almost-blister from writing)...and now I'm a happy man.


The decision is that I don't need to be alone any more after several years always looking for so much space to myself. I'll head back to Tasmania to see my family and drop off the bike before a month or so in New Zealand to wind down and start writing something out of the journey and interviews.


I'd like to say a huge thanks for the huge amount of support in the last week and for my expedition as it formed and progressed. I think I've managed to reply to all your emails. It meant a lot to me that so many people went to the trouble of writing to me, and I wanted to thank you individually.


It's been a fantastic experience. The highs were superb, the lows were the pits. Some places were beautiful, others apocalyptic. I think the most valuable experience was to be able to meet the people along the way who let me into their life for a minute, an hour, a day, a week. These people who had the time to smile at a passing stranger helped me learn so much about themselves and their cultures, and about myself.


For those in town, I'll be in Hobart for roughly a week from the 13th of January.


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