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27 September 2011 / leggypeggy

I’ve found missing bits of the Himalayas

Don't be fooled by the beauty of these beds. Parts of the Himalayas lie beneath the covers.

The Himalayas are still growing—by about a centimetre a year. India and Australia are on the geographic plate that is slowly creeping north and crashing into these already majestic mountains, pushing them higher and higher. With all this grinding and crunching, some bits are bound to fall off.

Throughout the Himalayas, you see landslides of rocks being gathered for creative and widespread use. A lot will be crushed into gravel and ultimately used to make concrete, plenty will become housing material or fences to contain livestock and surround crops, still more will be used for other innovative and decorative purposes, and all the rest will go into mattresses.

I’m not joking. The mattress I have had in our quaint little hostel/hotel in Lijiang the last two nights has a small Himalayan ridge running down the middle—head to toe. It’s more comfortable to sleep either side of the hill, which isn’t that easy when you are perched on a slightly oversized single bed. But comfort really doesn’t factor in to the beds we’ve known in China and Tibet.

Every single mattress has been an oversized, rock-hard single number. Some have had flat surfaces but most seem to mirror the terrain and texture of their Himalayan heritage, with peaks and valleys and lumpy outcrops all over the place.

Still you can’t fault them for style. Every bed frame has been beautifully made—often carved. And the bedding has been exquisite, with crisp white sheets, fluffy coverlets, plump pillows and stylish Chinese cloths draped at the foot of each bed.

But for sheer sleeping comfort, it’s no wonder our tent, roll mats and sleeping bags have so much allure each night.

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