Lots of clouds in the morning at base camp!
We said goodbye to our hostesses, packed up our stuff and left the base camp this morning. Our drivers had to get up several times during the night to start the cars, to keep them from freezing, so the cars would be able to go today. I visited the pony carts area before leaving, armed with my polaroid camera. The kid who drove the pony cart yesterday for me was there, and I wanted to take his photo. When others saw what was going on, they all wanted to have their photos taken. I had to say no to some of them, since I only had a few photos left. They were so intended on getting their photos taken, they left customers waiting on the carts! I was even offered money, but I had to say no.
We left on this road leading to Tingri
, which was unpaved and narrow, and followed a river.
Clouds obscure the rocky slopes above the tents at base camp in early morning
There was a place where we had to back up for another car coming toward base camp. Another time a truck had to back up a ways to let us through. Luckily the drivers were skillful and nobody fell into the ravine below. As we neared Tingri, we saw hikers! We had seen bikers on the friendship highway (basically the road we had been taking between Lhasa
and Kathmandu) along with support vehicles. We would sometimes see western camping tents by the side of the road where the bikers spent the night. It was crazy enough to bike on this road. Yeah, the scenery was great, but it was dusty, and lots of high passes to go up and come down. One had to be in real good shape and determined to bike this road. But now we had people walking? Our guide told us there were tours from Tingri to base camp, taking 3-4 days to walk! And I thought 4WD was roughing it.
Pony cart driver at base camp
We drove past a dried river bed where there were an endless sea of small rocks! Kevin was reading a book on Tibet and they mentioned such a place, and we were right there! Eventually we came down from the mountains and were on the Tingri plain. We went through a small town, then another, and we stopped at a spot where we could see the town of Tingri, and a herd of goats were grazing nearby. We saw a raptor soaring and flying high above us, then spotted another one. Through the binoculars we could see they had white bodies and a black trim on their leading edge of wings. They were very pretty but we did not know what they were.
Our hotel was at the edge of town. We could see a hill in town, and on the hill some ruins. We would visit Tingri tomorrow because where we would end up tomorrow was (Zham) Zhangmu, the border town, but the road between Nyalam and Zhangmu was under construction and would not open for traffic until usually 6 or 7 or 8pm.
Just a little of the very peak of Everest can be seen
So there was no point in getting there too early, you just had to wait. Looking toward the Himalayans, we could see some mountains including Cho Oyo. From time to time, it would peek out from the clouds. If we were lucky, we may get a better view tomorrow from the top of that hill in town.
Tingri had no electricity other than solar power. So the hotel would have electricity for a few hours in the evening, and the hot (warm) water would also be available in the evening after it had a chance to heat up in the sun all day. At least we had running water, and we were able to clean up after 2 nights at Everest base camp.
"Old" Tingri is also known as Gangkar or Gang Ga Cun, the Chinese name, so if you look at a map in Chinese, that's what you should look for. You can double check looking at google earth or something, this old Tingri is on a large plain, known as the Tingri plain.