Tuesday, 4 September 2007

It's a pretty big mountain...


Woohoo again!

Our arse-numbing transport from Lhasa down to the Nepal border via Everest

A little girl in Gyantse.

I wanted to add more photos to this blog but the computer, as is it's prerogative has decided against it. I had SO many good 'uns too.

Well, now I've seen the top of the world. Mount Everest or Mount Qomolangma as it's known to those who know it by that name. What am I supposed to go and see now that's going to be better than that? I suppose I could climb to the top but that would require that I am physically fit rather than the athletically challenged wreck my body actually is. The altitude at base camp alone makes walking anywhere seem at least twice the distance, so maybe I'll save the trek up to the summit for the next time I'm in Tibet...

Seriously though, Tibet and Everest have to be among the most ridiculously stunning places on Earth. Unbelievable. Mountains everywhere, big rivers, small rivers, huge valleys, more mountains and the friendship highway that passes through a fair few of them on the way from Lhasa to Nepal. You can just spend hours looking out of the window of your jeep/bus and not get bored.

There was even a desert in the middle of Tibet, we drove through it on the way to a small monastery town called Gyantse. Having had no idea that we would be driving through a desert in our 4x4, or that deserts existed in Tibet, you could call it a nice surprise. Like having extra jam in the middle of your doughnut.

While we were in Lhasa we became creatures of habit in our eating patterns, in that a group of us would inevitably end up in a restaurant called ‘Tashi 2’. On our last night there, we were playing cards after more bobi’s and momo’s and maybe even a Lhasa beer or two when a, let's say slightly inebriated, Tibetan guy comes in, goes into the kitchen and starts singing with the staff. Turns out he's singing a song about freeing Tibet. Which may not sound like so big a deal but it can actually get you arrested in Tibet, as can wearing an image of the Dalai Lama around your neck. This guy had had a few so didn't seem to care and told us with a mixture of hand gestures and one or two words of English that the Dalai Lama was good and China chased him away. Again, this doesn't sound like much but imagine if you could be arrested in England for something similar e.g. political protest. Either way, after a few beers with us he staggered off on his way home and left us to agree that such random encounters are such a great part of travelling.

No doubt everyone reading this knows it's my birthday in two days time - I'm going to be celebrating it in Kathmandu, Nepal! Seems like there's the odd bar or two here that stays open late so there shouldn't be too many problems there then. Please don't send all the presents to my house at once as they'll just be taking up space until I get back...

Kathmandu is an interesting place after China and Tibet. It's been a destination of people travelling through Asia even before smelly hippies first started making their way here in the sixties. Back then there probably wasn't a hundred guys trying to offer them treks, tiger balm or (in a very hushed voice) "the ganja". It's also got more of a ramshackle feel to it than anywhere in China. I think some of those who were the hippy inhabitants way back when are still hanging around too, there is a much greater age range among those who aren't local. What I mean by this is that, you go to Thailand, and virtually all backpackers are in the 18-30 bracket. Here, you've got them from the young and excitable to the old and crusty, I saw a guy earlier who looked like Santa with a long-term crack habit.

So in conclusion, add seeing Mount Everest to one of those stupid lists of "things to do before you die" as well as all those other things we're supposed to do like swim with dolphins and the like. Maybe managing to watch anything presented by Russel Brand without wanting to tear off your own arm just so you have something to throw at the television is on there too? Is he still incredibly annoying? Let me know.

No comments: