Peking/Beijing Revisited Photos
Since I had been in Beijing in 2005 and at that time also visited the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, I did not take many photos this time. For more see the album of 2005.
Train Journey Beijing – Lhasa Photos
We embarked on the almost 48 hour train journey in Beijing on Sep 11 at 9pm to arrive in Lhasa on Sep 13 around 8pm, and although the trip was fine and exciting in its own way, it was no Orient Express (not that I’ve ever been on that one!).
The facilities on the train get a tad ‘overused’ to say the least and clean-up is not always done promptly. The staff are constantly smoking under the ‘no-smoking’ signs so of course many of the locals (read ‘Chinese’) follow their example.
Our group had bunks in the ‘hard-sleeper’ section; we all kinda hoped for the soft-sleepers but somehow our travel company (or guide) did not manage to secure these. In the end the hard-sleepers worked out fine.
From the 2nd night onwards oxygen was pumped through the train, so most of us did not feel the altitude during the trip (the train does go the 5000m), except for some light-headedness and some headaches here and there.
The views, specially on day 2, are what really makes this trip worthwhile!
We spent 3days/4nights in Lhasa, which made it a non-rushed visit and helped with acclimatization since Lhasa is at 3700m. We had time to explore the city and make a side trip.
We visited the Jokhang, Tibet’s most sacred religious place, and the adjoining Barkhor Square and Circuit.
It was fascinating to watch the debating monks at the Sera Monastery; at times I didn’t know whether to feel happy to witness this or to feel intrusive…
Our managed to get a sidetrip organized to the Ganden Monastery (about 40km northeast of Lhasa.) The views from the Kora (walk around the Monastery) were simply stunning.
And then there was the Potala Palace. We almost didn’t make it… our guide kept telling us that there was a very real possibility that we wouldn’t get tickets… and almost seemed happy to leave it at that… he also dismissed the Palace as ‘a big building with lots of empty rooms’… Four members of our group then took it upon themselves to go and line up early in the morning to secure tickets for the group (and thank you to them for that). For most of us this was one of the highlights of the trip (I mean… being in Lhasa and not visiting the Potala?!).
There also was time to explore on our own and we had some nice dinners and lunches (thanks to good restaurant choices of our guide).
On the morning of Sep 17th we left Lhasa in 4 Toyota Landrovers and started the long day’s drive towards Gyantse. We made 2 detours.
The first one was about 1.5 hours out of Lhasa when we drove up and up to gaze down at beautiful Lake Yamdrok-Tso, one of Tibet’s 4 holy lakes.
The second took us on dirt roads to some impressive sanddunes.
In Gyantse we visited the Pelkor Chode Monastery and with the Gyantse Kumbum (a round structure of 35m high).
On Sep 18th around noon we did the short, 2 hour drive from Gyantse to Shigatse and there we had the afternoon free. The next day we visited the Tashilhunpo Monastery (the seat of the Panchen Lama). After a late lunch we did the 3 hour drive to Sakya, which took us through a high pass and beautiful scenery. Visited the Sakya Monastery upon arrival, the last of the monasteries on the itinerary. I enjoyed all of them.
Early in the morning of Sep 20th we started our journey towards Rombuk and Everest Basecamp (EBC). We entered the Qomolangma (Tibetan name for Everest) National Park and although it still took a while before we saw The Big One, the scenery was spectacular! When we got our first views of Everest and got out of the cars to gaze, gawk, stand in awe,… and take pictures, we were almost immediately ushered back in the cars by our guide (saying that we’d have more opportunities later). The group kind of ignored that for at least 10 more mins… he might have seen this 4 times already, for us it was the first time! It was Everest!!
We arrived at the Rombuk guesthouse around 2pm, had lunch and set off towards EBC (some of us on foot, like me, others in donkey carts). So I made it to EBC at 5200m!!! And beat Stephen to it!!!! For the rest of the day we huddled together in the cozy common room of the guesthouse.
That night it snowed so the landscape we drove through the next morning was eerily transformed.
That day we drove via Nyalam (where we had to wait for the road to open in our direction – there are roadworks going on and the road does not exactly lean itself to 2-way traffic) to the bordertown of Zhang-Mu, to cross into Nepal the day after.
Enjoy this selection of photos of my Tibetan Adventure. I enjoyed it immensely!