Sorry it’s taking me so long to write, I’ve been really busy here in Beijing. The photo above is of me and my friend Carina at our beautiful campsite, seriously amazing! And also just a quick update on Beijing, which I’ll write more about later! We just started classes this past week, which have been really fun but very challenging. We have about four hours of language class a day and are on a language pledge. Beijing is a really cool city that I can’t wait to explore more of! Today I move into my home stay, which is nerve-racking but exciting! Wish me luck! Anyway, this post is about Tibet! So here it is!
“Today was one of my favorite days so far here even though four or five hours of it were spent on a cramped bus. Even the trip itself was an adventure. We drove up a really steep and windy road that was, in my opinion, really not meant for a bus as wide as ours is. To add to this complication, our bus driver is completely insane. So let’s just say I was definitely not soundly sleeping while we were passing cars on the wrong side of the road next to treacherous cliffs. Only at one point, though, did I legitimately think we weren’t going to make it. The driver passed a truck on the left while another car was coming towards us on the right. I don’t know how, but we were able to squeeze through the opening just before the car heading towards us hit us. After getting to the top of the mountain, we were able to see the most beautiful lake I have ever seen – in English, it is called the Turquoise Lake, and I forget the Tibetan name. After stopping there to take pictures, we went to lunch at a small place named Yam Dork Yak Restaurant (English in China can be a little off sometimes/most of the time!). Literally all we have eaten since we’ve gotten here is Yak! Then, as we approached the campsite, the road was under construction, but as it is Tibet and there are evidently no driving laws, we went on it anyway, waving to construction workers as we went! The campsite is SO beautiful. In the afternoon, a large group went to a nearby nunnery, but I really wanted to hike the mountain next to the campsite – so I did that instead. The mountain was really steep, and the altitude of about 16,000 only made it harder, but I made it to the top and the view was amazing! I don’t know what place could possibly top this.”
Day 6 – 8:30 a.m.
“I just want to reflect really quickly on my first night camping in Tibet – definitely an experience! A humungous thunderstorm passed over, and literally shook the ground throughout the night. This wouldn’t have caused any problems, except for the fact that I left my stuff in the alcove in between the tent and outside, and realized half way through the night that some of it was probably getting wet – which it was. It turned out not to be a big deal, but it made for a restless night! Also, some people, including my roommate Sabastian, have started suffering from altitude sickness. So far so good for me, but we’ll see!”
Day 6 – 10:15 p.m.
“Today has been a very interesting day. After breakfast we started our drive to our new campsite. On our way we stopped at two beautiful scenic locations. The first was a spot on the Himalayas, which was the highest altitude that we will reach during out trip – over 16,000 feet. Then we stopped at was described to us as an artificial lake, which turned out just to mean that it was created by a dam, which was also beautiful. Later in the day, we arrived at the second largest city in Tibet, called Gyantze. We went to a monastery with a very unique Stupa that was built in the early 1400s. From there we drove to the Gyantze region’s security checkpoint, where we needed to get permission to camp. I’m starting to realize that traveling in Tibet without Tibetan tour guides would not only be hard, it would actually be impossible. We then started to drive to the campsite, but stopped when the roads became impossible to drive on (they had seemed impossible to drive on to me for about fifteen minutes, but our driver put forth a valiant effort!). It also looked like it was going storm. Our leaders then made the decision to return to the city and stay in a hotel, which isn’t as luxurious as it may sound, but was still nice to get a shower, although cold! So a lot of traveling again today, but we’re getting to see a lot of different aspects of Tibet rather than just the city life in Lhasa.”