9/9/2010 Thursday - Today was a very “blue sky” kind of day. The crystal blue sky just added to the beautiful scenery we saw on our drive from Tingri to Zhangmu which is the border town with Nepal.
We thought it would be a ho-hum drive and boy were we surprised. The BEST scenery yet! We drove about an hour out of Tingri and then had a very clear view of Mt. Everest. We pulled over and took some pictures. I think we were both surprised we got to see it again and with an even clearer sky than yesterday. We couldn’t take our eyes off of the mountain until we passed behind another hill and couldn’t see it any longer.
Further down the road we went over the Nyalam Tongla pass. It was the highest elevation of the day at 16,240 ft. and we could see the Himalayan mountain range with all of the snow covered peaks. We were able to see Mt. XiXiaBangMa with an elevation of 26,286 ft. and Mt. Cho Oyu at 26,906 ft. We remarked that we don’t think that we have ever seen anything like this before. This is really the
top of the Earth. I think we are beginning to run out of words to describe the things we are seeing since they keep getting more spectacular.
Finally we had to leave and started our descent down the pass. Lots of villages and barley farms. We stopped in the town of Nyalam for lunch, nicknamed 'The Gate of Hell' by the Nepalese traders because the trail between Nyalam and the Nepalese border was so treacherous to negotiate. We are thankful that the guide has told us the road was reconstructed in 2008. We had the best meal of the trip here in a small restaurant that the guide picked out. Finally some Chinese food instead of Indian. Then off to Zhangmu for the night.
Once you leave Nyalam, the scenery completely changes. The barren mountains and fields turn to lush green with evergreen trees and lots of waterfalls from the snow melt of the Himalayans. It was beautiful. The only concern we had was that part of the road was being worked on and there was a lack of safety barriers and a very long drop to the river below. I think this was driving a
little too close to the edge. Jason was holding on for dear life and my palms were very sweaty. We are very happy we do not have to drive that road again. UPDATE: If we had only known what the next day would bring.
Then we entered Zhangmu. Let’s just say not the best town in China. Safe enough to walk around but very dirty. We now know why the hotel in Tingri was given a two star rating. It was so they would have something lower to give the one here in Zhangmu. Definitely a one star. The elevation here in Zhangmu is much lower at 7546 ft. and we could really tell while walking the town especially since it is on the side of a mountain.
We are staying one night and then have to go to customs to get out of China. I guess it takes a while because they check all of your belongings. Then we get to cross the bridge into Nepal.
Only 5 hours of driving today.
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