Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

To the Roof of the World

I went on a 5-day trip in Tibet with some good people I hooked up with in Lhasa. If you are a lone traveler, checking the notice boards at the hotels in Lhasa is a good way to find some people to travel with.Trips around Tibet are expensive for one person, so people are always looking for a third, fourth, and sometimes fifth person to help split the costs.

The trip we went on went to Yamdrok-Tso lake, Shigatse and Gyantse to see some monasteries, Rongphu for its monastery, and finally to Everest Base Camp. Except for the "guide" we had, it was a very good trip. My travel companions were good company, the driver was good and very accommodating, and the scenery was spectacular.

One of the first thing I noticed as we drove out of Lhasa was the clear sky. The sky in Lhasa is very clear and blue, but it seemed to be even more so as we continued the drive. I am grateful to my travel companions for allowing me to ride shotgun.



We drove out of Lhasa along the river valley heading for the Kamba-la pass (4794 m) and the view of Yamdrok-Tso lake. All the passes are topped with prayer flags.


As we drove past and under the prayer flags, the lake came into view. It is an incredible sight. The turquoise-blue waters are amazing and the colors of the lake continue to change as the clouds and sun shift in the sky.





After a while contemplating and admiring the scenery, it was back down the mountain and on to Gyantse.


The road took us up the canyon of the Brahmaputra river. At times, the canyon was wide and the river slow. And other times it looked as if there might be some possible class-3 rapids far below.


In the canyon we had our first delay as road work was being carried out across both lanes. (It seemed as if road work was going on nearly everywhere we drove, but for the most part, there was little delay.) In the canyon cars were lined up for probably a kilometer or more on both sides of the section of roadway under repair. The wait wasn't total loss. It allowed me to wander around and get a few pictures. After about an hour we were able to get underway and enjoy even more canyon scenery.



The monasteries in Shigatse and Gyantse were interesting, but I think for me, it was the landscapes I enjoyed the most. We drove through desert with sand dunes, green rolling hills at 4000+ meters, up roads with numerous switchbacks winding their way to the top of mountains, river plains with trees turning to gold, and barely fields ready for harvest. Part of the time, if it wasn't for the lack of scrub and the green moss and grass, I could have swore we were driving through the area outside of Las Vegas. The mountains and plains seemed very similar.








Rongphu monastery was interesting because it is set in the valley leading up to Everest Base Camp. It is small, but being where it is makes it the highest monastery in the world.



The Jeeps and Land cruisers actually stop about four kilometer past Rongphu and four kilometers before the actual base camp. There, there are a collection of tents for use as tea houses and accommodation. Many of them have colorful names. We stayed in one called the "English Hotel." It wasn't very British and the proprietor didn't really speak much English so I am not sure how it got its name. But it was a nice place and the highest elevation I have ever slept at, around 5000meters.




The last four kilometers to EBC must be walked. At 5000+ meters that is no simple task so you could opt for the horse cart ride if you didn't feel up to the task. No, I walked the distance, two times actually, approximately 16 kilometers in total. For the walk you can follow the road and go to where the base camp tents actually are, or you can take the shortcut which takes you up a hill which over looks the whole of base camp, the terminal moraine left over from the receding glacier, and the remnants of the glacier itself. I have always been one for shortcuts, so up I went.





It really is incredible standing there looking up at Everest in the distance. It just captures your attention. You keep looking ... wondering ... what route have the people who climbed it taken, how were the actually able to reach the top. You take one picture, but then you feel you need to take another because you are not sure if you have caught the grandeur of it all. It really is something special.





So now the highest I have ever been is 5250 meters plus or minus a bit. It was a really good trip. The accommodations and facilities weren't always so nice, but that is something you have to expect, and I wasn't expecting much to begin with. All in all, this was possibly one of the best excursions I have ever been on. If you get the opportunity to come to Tibet, you really should consider doing something similar. There is nothing quite like visiting the roof of the world.



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3 Comments:

At 3:30 PM, Blogger jung-mi said...

Hi~ I recive your post-card from Tibet. And I read your treavl literature at your blog. It's great to me. You are there that the roof of the world. You essay is travel to Everest of me. Thanks for cards. Probably, I'm happy during few days because of your card. ^.^
Take care. Bye

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger jung-mi said...

Hi~ I recive your post-card from Tibet. And I read your treavl literature at your blog. It's great to me. You are there that the roof of the world. You essay is travel to Everest of me. Thanks for cards. Probably, I'm happy during few days because of your card. ^.^
Take care. Bye

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Susan said...

It sounds like it's a good idea you decided to take that trip! I love the pictures, and I love the way you say you have to keep taking pictures because you can't really capture what you see in them. Happy travels!

 

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