Published: May 7th 2007May 7th 2007
The train ride from Chongqing was VERY long....However, the changing landscapes were very dramatic. We started off in lush green Sichuan and moved into western China, from Xi'an to Golmud. In the west the scenery changed to sand dunes and what seemed like hallucinated clear-blue lakes out in the middle of nowhere.
As we ascended from Golmud into the Tibetan plateau, the landscape changed once more. No longer could we see any trees, shrub or tumble weeds of any sort-- just bare mountains and the occassional herd of sheep/goats. Patches of snow appeared--in the distances snow-capped mountains.
We arrived in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, on a bright afternoon. We were expecting it to be colder than it was, so that was a pleasant surprise! We checked into our hostel and went out for a short walk before it got too dark. Because of Acute Mountain Sickness, we took it easy the firt few days, trying to adjust to the 3700 meter altitude.
All time was not wasted as we did managed to put together an intrepid group of 4--Myself, Xiang Yi, Oren and Kate. Together we traveled throughout Tibet for a period of 6 nights and
7 days--the highlight being Everest Base Camp. It was nice to have a foursome, as Oren's Isreali antics and Kate's fussy Polish eating habits provided much amusement!
You see Oren is an older, retired Post Office Manager/ Football Referee. He is fit as a fiddle and has boundless amounts of energy. He spends most of the year travel from place to place, bring a lot of happiness with him. For example, he carries with him a bag of balloons and gives them out to poor children along the way. He buys things he doesn't need from poor vendors, and then gives those items away to even less fortunate people. After I bought this big Tibetan yak for my grandmother, he asked me questions about her and suggested that I take her to Israel for a visit. When I explained that the flight would be too much for her to bare, and that she has trouble walking, Oren said he would carry her everywhere.
"I taykeh hur and I kerry hur ever EE whur!" He is too funny...but maybe he's right.....
Kate is about the same age as Xiang Yi and I. She's been teaching English in China
and has managed to learn Mandarin. Tall, blond and with glasses--she shared her non-dating adventures in Eastern China. While she loves Asia, Kate plans to finish her contract in November and do some more traveling. She made this short trip to Tibet during the Chinese Labor Week Holiday. Yes, you read correctly, they get ONE WEEK not just a day!
During the 7 days we visited Samye Monastery (considered Tibet's first, build in the 8th century), Yumbulagang Palace (built more than 2000 years ago, from humble beginings), Trandruk Monastery (one of the oldest in Tibet, the only one we were allowed to take pictures of; see pictures of different Buddha's statues/murals), Yamdroktso Lake (one of Tibet's holiest and largest lakes, at 4500 meters), Gyantse and the Palkhor Chode Monastery (home of the Gelug, Sakya, and Bonpa schools of Tibetan Buddhism), Shigatse and Tashilhunpo Monastery (Tibet's second city after Lhasa, home of the Panchen Lama, which is second, after the Dalai Lama). Finally we reached Shegar/ New Tingri, which is close to E.B.C.
By our 5th day of traveling, we could rewrite the book on roughing it. The toilets. Ugh. The food was limited as were the accomodations. In
Shegar we slept in these 'roustic' hut-like rooms. Xiang Yi and I both agreed that it was colder inside our room than outside at almost 5,000 meters with blustery winds. We made the best of it and travelled just a bit more beyong Ronngbuk Monastery (did not visit, overdosed on monasteries) to Base Camp. We hired a rickshaw (cart/mule) to take us up the last 300 meters so that we would not collapse on sight!
It was SO COLD.
But...WE DID IT! We reached Everest Base Camp and took some amazingly clear shots of the North Face. Some expedition tents were scattered throughout the area. We walked back down and subsequently suffered headaches, as out brain cells tried to contract back to normal.
We reached the huts and I threw myself on the bed, didn't even brush my teeth, I was so cold and tired.
That was a few days ago and so in a few days we're off to southern China.....
on the move....jessica