First 2 days of my Tibet Trip
26.05.2007 - 27.05.2007 17 °C
We had an early start leaving already at 6am. The bus was dreadful, as it was so cramped that even I didn't have enough leg room. Poor Jon was half lying in the aisle and half over our petrol tanks that were in the back row of the bus. Very safe...:-)
We are around 20 in one bus and there are 3 buses in total so quite a big group which isn't great but it was the only way to get into Tibet. The group seems quite mixed, we even have a few pilgrams and monks on the tour. We had breakfast outside of Kahtmandu overlooking the whole valley which was nice. The streets were in so bad conditions that it took us 3.5 hours for 95km. I have never seen roads in so bad conditions. Unbelievable. When we finally got to the the border we had to first haggle with the money exchangers to get our money changed then walked in to emigration from Nepal and then across a bridge to the Chinese border, where our luggage was sprayed with some desinfection, our temperature was measured to make sure we don't have Sarse. We got our 2 copies of original visas there which we must not loose otherwise your trip is straight away over and you are being deported. Great and that where I loose everything at the moment. I might as well not bother.
Apparently they even check your bags for pictures of the Dalai Lama. Even when it is in a guide book they just tear out the page. I was lucky, as I am reading the book "7 years in Tibet" at the moment and they probably wouldn't have been too happy about that as it has an introduction from him in there. Once we have walked accross the border/bridge we were greeted by our new Tibetan guide. Apparently he is a monitor for the Chinese but who knows... The whole procedure took that long at the border that we had to stay in that border town over night - Zhangmu 2500m. The drive so far was very scenic with mountain valleys and gorges and the river running in the middle again. Zhangmu was quite strange. More developed and modern than I thought but still all a bit strange. Our hotel, Sherpa Hotel, was very basic, so they didn't promise too much when they said it is going to be a very rough trip and the accomodation for the first few days will be very basic with no showers, no running water etc. I shared the room with 5 other guys: Jon & Kirby, Eduardo from Chile, Pascal from Belgium and a German guy. The beds were so close together that you pretty much ended up in the next bed when you rolled over. The toilets (sorry, I know I am going on about toilets....) were disgusting. Just a whole again but really dirty and sooo smelly. An interesting engineering fact was that the drain for the so called shower had stuff from the toilet flowing into. Yummy! I rather not showere then and poor Eduardo didn't notice and wasn't too happy when we told him... ha, ha.... Well, at least we had sink where you could brush your teeth. We just had a look around in town and then had dinner. Eduardo seems nice and the Belgium guy seems a little weird....
Breakfast the next day was at 5am (allegedly) and departure at 6am sharp. After not getting much sleep again, although we had a reasonably early night, I was absolutely knackered. Breakfast of course wasn't ready at 5am more towards 6 am and it really wasn't worth waiting an hour for it. A soup bowl filled with what looked like porridge, but turned out to be egg with milk and something similar to bread.
The Chinese have one universal time zone for the whole of China which is Bejing time. That means it is 2.15 hours ahead of the Nepali time although it is that close. That means it is bright until at least 9pm but only gets bright around 8am ,which makes the getting up early even harder. Our guide didn't even show up for breakfast so we only left around 6.45am.
The scenary here is crazy. It almost looks like desert but in the middle of the mountains. Just sand, rocks and dust. No trees. We are driving through riverbeds, got stuck in mud and it is so bumpy and dusty that the ride is quite uncomfortable but it looks incredible. In between you sometimes see the snowy mountains. It is breathtaking to watch. Really beautiful!
I was shattered today, so like most others slept a lot on the bus. We passed another Chinese border check point where I really have seen the worst toilet in my life (and it still hasn't been beaten 2 months later). Someone walked in there and has straight away thrown up in there which exactely how I felt when I walked in. Just a whole in the concret and there isn't even water to flush. In Nepal you had at least a kanister with water and a small bucket to scoop water out of the big one and use it as flush. But here the stuff just lies there from months and probably years... Urrgh.....
A few people got quite sick today as we went up as high as 5200m. For those who haven't been trecking before it is quite a shock to the system. If you imagine what problems we had on the Everest Treck by slowly walking up there and having acclimatisation days in between and now they just bring us to that altitude straight away. One guy was so violantly ill, I don't think I have ever seen anyone being so sick and a Japanese girl had to be put on oxygen. We seem okay, although I feel as if I amight come down with a cold which would be rubbish. We are staying overnight in Lhatse which is even more basic than the last place and I am sharing the room with 4 of the guys from yesterday. The toilets are a nightmare, the smell is so bad, it feels as if you are running against a wall. Again no sort of flush or anything. Those wholes don't even have doors, so everyone can just walk in. Nice! Not sure what is worse, the smell or the sight of all the exrements that have been there for ever. It was so bad that it was even too much for the boys :-) Thank God I have my antibacterial wipes and my sterilising handwash where you don't need water for, as we don't have water here at all.
We were driving for 13 hours today which was exhausting. Although you are not doing anything it is tiring, it might be the altitude again. Dinner was very questionable. My hot and sour soup had some sort of cabbabe in it and my cauliflower was something that looked like succhini or so but it certainly wasn't cauliflower. At least we could get something to eat. The first agency we consulted regarding the Tibet Trip told us that not only would we not have water, showers and toilet but there would be nowhere to buy food, so he suggested to take a lot of biscuits and dried fruit on the trip. Not sure he really wanted to sell us the trip! Very questionable sales technique!...
From tomorrow onwards it should be better as the accomodation should be better and we also do some sighseeing, instead of just driving all day. We have seen Everest today. From the other side, this time we are facing the famous North Face that gave the brand it's name. We were crossing over Lalungla where we had breathtaking views over the Himalayas including Mt. Cho Oyu (8021m).