Chattin' up the ladies!!!
The flight from Chengdu was awesome...because the views flying in were the best I've ever seen on a flight! We were so low down crossing over moutains it was worth every penny. We arrived at the airport prepared for the lack of oxygen (mentally) but was surprised to find it was absolutley fine. We rocked up in Lhasa wandering the streets looking for a cheap hotels and bumped into Jen! Yay!! She lead the way to a place that was in the mix of it all and a good price so thanks Jen! We dumped our bags and headed to Jen and Martins hotel to see Martin who was not doing to well (abcess on his tonsil)) so after a quick catch up, Jen, Johnny and I hit the markets.
We were staying right near Jokang Temple, which is a constant buzz of activity throughout the day and there is a Pilgrim circuit that surrounds it which is really cool to watch. We did some hard bargaining at the markets then hit one of the rooftop restaraunts for some eats. We bumped into a couple who we met in Chengdu- Justin and Jill- who were keen to do the Friendship Highway trip with us so we orgainsied that which was pretty awesome! We went to The Potala Palace which was a bit strange- seeing as its unnoccupied. But wonderful for its historical aspects.
We headed off the following morning at 6am on the Pilgrim bus to visit Ganden Monastary. It was still dark out because Tibet clocks are set the same as China time, which means it gets dark real late at night.
Fun, but not for early morning starts! hehe. We met a fellow Aussie on the bus, Briony, who spent the day with us. We drove up a windy as road until we got to the top of the mountain where Ganden Monastary was waiting for us. We decided to do the massive (well it felt like it) hike up the rest of the mountain to get a view looking down onto the monastary and the valleys below. The reward was well worth it. The views were spectacular. Not just the monastary, but the surrounding mountains. There were prayer flags everywhere, and a prayer tower...Johnny made the most of it and climbed it! We then headed down and did the Pilgrim circuit... a track that circles the monastary. Always walk clockwise...if you dont its very unlucky. We watched the vultures circling over head-which is normal, as Tibetans do sky burials (taking the dead to the top of the mountain) and vultures make the most of it.
We then explored the monastary, met many monks, then headed over to the locals eatery where we had a bowl of noodles for 3 yuan....bargain! Super tasty too!
We started our 4wd trip a couple of days later, in a old blue Toyota Landcruiser and our tibetan driver, Puchong, who couldnt speak a word of english! Well he is Tibetan after all. We stayed a night in each town of Shigatse and Gyantse, where we visited the monastaries and Stupas, and found an awesome little tibetan restaurant that cooked up delish momos and noodle soups.We continued on and stayed a night in an almost close to ghost town- Shegar - before finally making our way to 'Qomolangma' Everest Base camp. We got dropped at the monastary where we walked on towards the north face of everest until we reached base camp.
We were really lucky, as the view of everest was clear as- really spectacular! Base camp is basically a path with tents on either side whic serve as 'hotels' and restaraunts, we chose one that was black with the hope it would keep us warm as it was bloody cold! We sat out on a little hill/mound which was at the boundary of the camp (big fines if you go further) as well as a place for prayer flags. That night no one had much sleep as the tent next door got real rowdy till the early hours of the morning and the resident baby had the poo's. So up early for sunset, we made the most of the beautiful sunshine, before trekking back to the monastary. Very unispiring compared to the trek the day before as we had no everest to walk towards! We spent our last night of this 4wd trip with Jill and Justin in the tiny town of Tingri
, where our driver decided he wasnt going to drive us to the border anyore and sold us over to another 'driver'.
Hmmm. We had some eats and farewell beers with Jill and Justin and hit the sack, then got up at 5.30am to get this 'bus'. Turns out it was a local bus, which wasnt a 4wd, and you need a 4wd on the roads there! Cheers Puchong! A very bumpy 6 hours later (and extremely scenic) we got dropped at the border where we exited the hilly, misty roads and entered the lush, green, tropical Nepal!