Ok so when I went to China I knew I was going to be in an high altitude environment. Basically Xining is high up on the Tibetan plateau. It sits about 2.5 km high. So a few weeks there and I was happy I could do high altitude. Do not mock I know it is not super high but still.
So we decided to go to Chengdu but rather than flying to Chengdu we flew to erm some mountain somewhere. First thing I knew was Shirvine saying that she could feel her heart pounding. Quick GPS fix showed that we were at 3.5 km. Argh.
Now I would to say I was feeling brave and all was good but actually I was a bit worried. I’d just read Richard Harmond’s new book where he described his time in Hawaii at the Keck observatory. In that chapter he describes the effect of altitude sickness and gave some symptoms and altitude heights of concern etc.
Annoyingly I could not remember what those figures actually were. But I could remember that the symptom of a headache was a first warning sign. Argh. I had a headache. I also felt a bit dizzy and blood was pouring from my eyes. Well no it was’t. But it could of been.
Not to worry the Hyundai mini bus had arrived so we were off the hill top airport. Down we went on the steepest hill road I had seen. Then there was no road just gravel. So an hour latter of bone crushing dust swallowing driving we were down to 3 km and eating lunch. Not far to the hotel I thought. Wrong again. Another couple hours of driving on roads which had no side rails cars coming down both “lanes” at once. Coaches beeping and the biggest wagons full of rock all with steaming water cooled brakes. And we were at 4 km I was certain my brain was going to pop. We were heading for the yellow dragon nature reserve it was worth the 4 km altitude and certain death.
Strangely though whilst I did not die or become a super athlete, the other thing that you seem to do at high altitude, I did I think for the first time get to experience a bit of the planet upper space that I had never done before. I also got to mock the relative low altitude at Xining with its meager 2.5 km.
Even more bizarre the 500 km drive from erm the yellow dragon valley to Chengdu would make a brilliant top gear special…..well perhaps when the finish the road that is?
So now I can tick that off my list of life challenges, natural high no plane no drugs.