Schlepping to Nepal - Part 2
Trip Start Jul 21, 2006
62Trip End Ongoing
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We continued through the barren scenery of the Tibetan Plateau for most of the morning, stopping only briefly at a nice settlement for a spot of lunch on the way. In the middle of the afternoon we came accross a working party surfacing the road and were directed to a diversion, dropping off the side of the road, down to a river, along the river then a short scramble back up to rejoin our path about 500m further on.
Tamsin inadvertantly gave us the kiss of death announcing "this is what these jeeps are made for..." moments before we got stuck in the mud
Anyway enough of this schnidey backstabby whinging. We finally managed to free the vehicle "hooray", with the help of no less than 8 passing locals (+ a donkey and a 6 year old), then after arranging a prayer scarf across the dashboard (thanks for cursing us again Tamsin luv), we promptly drove into another swamp
It got stuck in the bog. After 40mins or so locals managed to slowly free it and parked up on the other side of the swamp. We abandoned the Jeep to the swamp, lugged our bags with us (and The Chump's heavy luggage), and climbed up into the back of the lorry. We chugged back through the river onto the road and reached Shegar in the dark at just after 8pm.
After a bowl of noodles, Nima and some brave locals went back out to try to free the Jeep (better chance of recovery in the frozen ground than when it was gloopy mud), and we settled down for a pint or so. Numbnuts appeared a little later from a different hostel and was disappointed that we hadn't carried her sleeping bag toothbrush and nightwear from the jeep (in two other bags apparently). Hmm quite oblivious she was... - but we were beyond any negative feelings, remaining quite elated after the extraordinary day we'd had - quite an adventure for all of us, crowned by the extraordinary ride back through the river in our saviours' lorry.
With our muddy vehicle ready and waiting for us the next morning we made an early start in the frost in an effort to get to the first view of the Himalayas in time for dawn
The view was incredible and we wandered around in the rareified air, soaking it up and taking a couple of photos. Following that it was full speed (3hrs drive) towards Everest Base Camp and Rhongpu monastery (highest monastery in the world at 4,875m). Usual form is to stop at the monastery, then trek up to the base camp - however we had heard that the base camp was closed - i.e. no officials and no checkpoints... So we took the jeep up, and used what energy we had to walk towards the great mountain past all the no entry and "do not pass beyond" signs. We walked for about 3hrs in total, and reached about 5,400m altitude, affording us views of the glaciers approaching Everest and incredible ice lakes. Compared to the fairly desolate view of the surroundings of EBC we were glad to have taken the initiative and gone a bit further. The three of us Xavier Tamsin and I, were met by some rather disgruntled travelling companions when we returned (a few hours later than Nima and Gumbi expected) - but I was still buzzing and completely unrepentant at spending as much time as we wanted to at such an incredible place
The route from EBC took us over some rough country (fortunately so high that it was more ice than mud and the ground was very firm), remaining very arid and desolate. We passed a couple of yak herds, and bumped for a further 3hrs over passes to stay at Old Tingri with wonderful views back over the himalayas. It was still mighty cold - our down sleeping bags just keeping us warm in the -2deg night. We managed to snuffle a double room and leave the others to it (Halfwit made other arrangements, leaving Xavier a whole dorm to himself).
Day 7 of the trip was the race to the border. We drove right through lunch, and started the descent from the 4,000m plateau to 2,000m Nepal early afternoon. Going towards the border we slowly passed from the unrelenting dusty brown of Tibet into the lush green ravines and valleys of Nepal. We reached the border to be met by an impassable queue of lorries and hopeless Chinese officials, local hauliers sacrificing a cow at the side of the road (a packed lunch that carried itself there), and general disorder. We managed to get through the Tibetan side without incident, then took a taxi the 10km through nomansland to Nepal. A further good example of Dipstick's negotiation skills occured in the taxi rank after Tamsin had arranged a 10Y each fare for the 4 of us to the Nepal lines
""10Y each 10Y EACH 10Y EACH. DON'T WANT. DONT HAVE YOU"" ((Divvy in pidgeon chinese))
"that is price." ((taxi lady in english))
"" DON'T WANT DON'T HAVE. ONLY 40Y. 40Y only take DON'T HAVE 10y EACH"" ((Cretin in chinglish))
"ok" ((taxi lady in polite english))
"" don't worry guys, I've got it for 30!!..."" (d'oh)
We ditched The Stupid One the other side of the border as she didn't want to ride the peasant wagon, and couldn't carry all her stuff on public transport anyhow. We took a public bus WOW - THE PUBLIC BUSSES IN NEPAL!!! .. to Bharabise, 3hrs ish along unmaintained tracks through the valley. The bus was incredible with almost 200 people on and in it. It was chokka. There were dozens of people sat on the roof, including at one time a whole nepalese karate school, and two ironmongers with all their pots and pans with them. Inside the bus was a bit of a squeeze, and though the temptation was to pop out to take a photo, getting out was as much of an impossibility as getting back in afterwards would have been.
We settled down that evening, very content, very excited and looking forward to the adventure Nepal was promising to be. We had a nice curry (me egg, tamsin veggies), and a bottle of Ghorka beer each to celebrate. Next to Kathmandu!!! - can't wait