Starting in Yunnan Province of southern China, Matthew cycled alone, unsupported, and without the necessary permits, into the mountains of Tibet. Cycling roads that varied from smooth pavement to rough rocks and cobbles, he climbed high snow covered passes, crossed through deep arid canyons, and cycled past police checkpoints at night to avoid detection. His tortuous path eventually led him to Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, where he trekked through the surrounding mountains, explored its monasteries, and delved into the Tibetan Buddhist culture and its tragic relationship with its modern day overlords. His journey continued past Everest base camp and dropped into the verdant green of Nepal. Matthew continued west on the baking, chaotic plains of India before turning north, cycling deeper into the mountains, over ever higher passes, to Ladakh, to finish on the edge of the Muslim world, on the India-Pakistan cease fire line.
Hard Road to Nirvana is a story of a supremely difficult journey of harsh roads, high altitude, climatic extremes, and trying human circumstances. Yet it is also a thoughtful exploration of the Tibetan Buddhist lands, its people, culture, religion, landscape, and its modern day situation. It is a grand solo journey, a hard-won pilgrimage, through a dramatic and beautiful, yet unforgiving landscape, told with perspective, sensitivity, and insight.
Includes 14 photographs and a map