25 November 2010

Bus to Tibet

The bus to the border was bumpy, very bumpy.  The Nepali government has really been getting behind with road works.  Very close to the crossing point, we hit a traffic jam, which necessitated the bus reversing back down a road with a huge drop to one side.  At one point the bus nearly dropped the back wheels of the edge, which had a number of people on the bus clambering to get out, myself included.  It just about stayed on.

After that near brush with death came the ordeal of getting into Tibet.  Those in power in Beijing do not want anything sneaking over the border that might show the Tibetans who the Dalai Lama is.  All guide books need to be discarded before getting to the border.  Rather unhelpfully, none of them tell you that in their actual guide, lest it put you off buying it.  After a bag search (which was not that thorough, I think we could have got our book through), we were in.

We spent the next four days on the bus to get to Tibet going through some of the most stunning landscape yet (you can see we had some dust on our camera sensor and we bother with Photoshop either):

Seen a few monasteries:


And we got to see a bit of everyday life high up in the Himalayas :

It may be cold up there, but there's plenty of sun

It was my first experience of a group tour.  It was a very international group with about 16 different nationalities on board.  A few countries played out to their natural stereotypes, but I’ll not go into details, don't want to offend anyone  J

There were a few problems with people suffering from acute mountain sickness, and one girl eventually got evacuated from Lhasa to Beijing for hospital treatment.  The tour guide dealt shoddily with the situation, but as far as we know, everything turned out ok.

The other problem was the Sinofication of all the Tibetan towns we went to.  Slowly but surely, they are all beginning to look like bland carbon copy Chinese cities.

As much as we like to slag China off for what it is doing in Tibet (and Xinjiang, and anywhere else it calls its own that the locals disagree with), I was grateful for the road, which was so much better than what we had to endure on the Nepali side.  But that is but a small plus to try and counter all the negative things implemented by the central government.

We arrived in Lhasa on the evening of the 13th of October.