The Rooftop of the World
Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
360Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Where I stayed
Trichang Labrang Hotel
The first hour of driving continued to stun. We even stopped off at a flour mill, it was not much to see but amusing how the miller rearranged his 'Tips’ sign as we looked around the timy space. The drivers had their customary cigarette outside just as I discussed the explosive properties of flour (surface area science in action) and how a spark would send the building sky high. Further down the road we came to Gyantse and the very impressive Khumblum Stupa and Phalkor Monastry
Back on the road we continued to drive through unbelievable landscape. The road twisted and turned, up and down and up and down. I thought Top Gear must be itching to get out here and do a special shoot. The road seemed to jump out over crystal blue waters, the white snow-capped mountains always around and about. We passed the Kharola Glacier, but at 5600m people were feeling breathless and very cold so only the most hardy stayed out of the jeep for long. Hawkers selling gem stones waved them at the windows reducing their prices drastically every second – We’ve really no use for rocks on our trip however and stood firm.
Lunch stop was at a good Tibetan restaurant and unbelievably I had my first proper food for days, some vegetable rice seemed to agree with me and even Polly’s stir fried yak meat and tomato looked tempting. Downstairs, Polly found some more adorable puppies to play with, their mountain fur making them ridiculously cute.
Refuelled we set about the final leg to Lhasa, capital of Tibet. Again we circled a beautiful lake, the blue colour had to be seen to be believed
All 9 of us on the trip were holding our breaths about the state of the hotel as we trudged wearily through a packed side street with our luggage. Amazingly Trichang Labrang is a great place, totally decked out in Tibetan style furniture and paintings. Our rooms are significantly warmer than the previous night and have electric blankets!! Heaven. The staff are also lovely although the resident cats are a bit cheeky and meow loudly outside our room demanding attention.
Pols and I decided to hit the town immediately after 8 hours crammed in the car and had a disorientating but fun time wandering up and down the main road outside the hotel. Lhasa somehow seems more foreign than anywhere we have previously been – largely due to immense language barrier – but even food shopping is confusing as nothing looks familiar. We gave up trying to find milk! Polly decided it would be a good idea to try and get some more paracetamol for our altitude heads, but after a lengthy conversation with a pharmacist consulting his phrasebook we ended up with some dodgy looking powders
Feeling tired after our adventures we opted to eat in the hotel restaurant rather than brave the hectic city in the dark. Cuddled next to a heater sharing a cheese and tomato pizza and catching up with football scores and messages from home we knew we’d made a good call. I headed straight up for a boiling hot shower (neither of us have washed for 5 days!) and Pols stayed in the lobby to skype the Gicks on their final night in Delhi. Apparently two reception staff joined her and had a chat as well! Showered up I struggled to enjoy the first English film we’ve had ‘Stardust’ as my stomach sounded and felt like a washing machine on its last legs. Another uncomfortable night lay ahead – antibiotics surely must kick in soon?