The road trip - Nepal border to Lhasa

Shigatse Travel Blog

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Writing this on last day in Tibet/Lhsasa. It has been an up and down journey literally.
We started with an 7hour trip to nepal Tibet border and then on to a place called Nyalam which is only a place on our itinerary as it is a logical place to stop after 11 hours travel. It is a rather cold miserable place with one small main street and several guest houses. No luxuries here folks, it was a 5 bedded bunk room for us all, colder inside than out with vast concrete walls and the shared squat toilets, needless to say we didn't bother to look for the shower...a little bit cold and might have left a lot to be desired, our own dirt was preferable. We wandered the few 100 metres down the street to the river which was used for hydro and also had a second use, rubbish tip. Not an auspicious start to our time in Tibet ...and wait there is more! (Must admit the guest house owners were lovely and we did get much needed hot noodle soup). 
Next day was a very big day as we had to make up the day we had lost with leaving late because Sarah was very sick. 10 hours travel in a van which took the 5 of us but not our luggage as well, we were rather crammed in with backpacks etc. We might have coped with the travel if we hadn't also had to cope with the altitude , up to 4500m today so we were all feeling it. The countryside was bleak and stark, not sure how the villages survive, it looks so barren and rocky.
We bought some innovation to Tibet when we suggested that instead of dining in their freezing dining room for lunch we move the tables outside to the sunny sheltered courtyard so we dined on the usual noodles (some of us order soup, some chow mein but we couldn't tell the difference) in truely Aussie Kiwi style. Visited our first monastery of many, it was pretty cool with ramparts for us to walk on and seemimgly in the middle of was the Satya monastery for those of you who might know about these things. We moved on to Shigatse second largest city in Tibet and I just collapsed into bed, good for the figure, no dinner for me.
Shigatse is not that big either but the monastery there is (big) and houses the panchen branch of monks, there seemed to be thousands of pilgrims wanting to pay homage to the budha and Lama(s) so we filed along with them and watched as they added their Yak butter to the 100's of burning candles and swung their prayer wheels.
We then headed on to Gyantse which had the coolest Monastery yet (even though we were starting to get Monastery overload), it had 7 levels and 77 chapels which really were just little rooms with these amazing small wooden doors you opened to see the Budha statues and the amazing art on the walls..from around 1400 they were pretty well preserved although crumbling in parts. It was fun exploring as we were left on our own to do this and then to wander through the town so we could see the Tibetans go about their day to day lives.
They were all very friendly and keen to say hello to us.
Next day was another long trip to Lhasa but we were starting to see a bit of green in the countryside and a couple of lakes , sorry folks will have to look up the names but they looked pretty good with mountains in the background not dissimilar to NZ.  We stopped at the highest point which the Tibetans drape with their colourful prayer flags we were over 4900m so we gasped for breathe as we climbed to the viewing point. We then started to descend into Lhasa on what is called locally the snake road, needs to be seen to be believed. It is an engineering miracle and the Browns Bay skateboarders would love the dizzying zigzag descent , a bit hairy in a van though!
We met the usual traffic jam as we enterd Lhasa, it was crazy, because two lanes were blocked everyone attempted to go the wrong way down the road and of course met all the traffic coming the other way. It took at least an hour to untangle the mess as we were drenched in traffic fumes.
Will leave the Lhasa  bit of the story until get to Kathmandu as you must be tired of reading this by now.
All I can say is I love Lhasa and the people are great, many have learned to say hello and welcome to Tibet to us foreigners as we mumble "tashi delez" in resonse probably with the worst accent ever!
Fly to kathmandu tomorrow and have 5 days sort of relaxing if you can in kathmandu until we head home. Sarah and te Whata left yesterday morning for Xian and will just be getting off the train after their 32 hour trip, so have been thinking of them and do miss them already, sad to say goodbye.
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photo by: seahlk