Would I go again? Probably not. Am I glad I went there? hmmm. Yes and no. But let’s start at the beginning. 4.5 billion years ago … haha, no not at THAT beginning 🙂
Going to Tibet needs planning in advance. You also gotta physically prepare for the trip, which means one year prior I started running up Grosse Mythen in Switzerland and did lots of exercises. More than usual. Then the day came and we fly to Kathmandu via Doha/Qatar. Arriving in the bustling city of Kathmandu wasn’t too much of a culture shock. We then did a few days of sightseeing with the group and getting to know everyone. It is impossible (well, it is legally impossible) to enter Tibet without a group. Or a Chinese guide/control freak. A little plane flew us to the east of the country. (I forgot the name already). From there we walked about 6 days along the Karnali river to the Tibetan/Nepali border. Along the way we crossed beautiful landscapes and visited a monastery that educates young children, some of them had to flee from Tibet over the mountains. At the border we camped, prepared the border crossing which meant, hide money, hide certain books (our guide had some buddhism books with poetry with him, so when we were at certain places he could read us from them). Next day the border crossing and already had enough of these chinese idiots. We then called them ‘men in green’ because of their green uniform. They searched through every single bag, looked at every book. Tore out parts that talks about Dalai Lama, Tibet (as it’s own country) and then returns a half empty Lonely Planet book. Why not just burn it? Anyway, I was standing there, thinking of how I would kill them but just had to smile. I guess this is where I learnt to be a great actress and fake happiness and all when in fact I just wanna hit them. It’s good to know how to fake calmness in certain borders also for my future travels. Smoking cigarettes usually helps.
Well, then we were officially in Tibet. Except, that they think it is China. So we also had a Chinese guide who drove us to the next village and on the way we stopped at one monastery to hand over money and medicine so they can distribute it fairly. This all had to be done hidden, without the spy guy finding out.
For relaxing times, make it Santori times.
At that village we had to wait for another day just to get cleared. It just is a demonstration on power from the “little green men” (no not aliens, I think even they are nicer).
The reason we booked this trip was the Kailash Kora. The four largest rivers have their source up there. The Indus, Brhamaputra, Karnali (which is a distributor of Ganges), and Sutlej. We met lots of Tibetans doing the kora, they all wanted to see a photo of the Dalai Lama (but all our guide books were ripped). We were not able to explain them anything of what happens, because they speak no English. We speak no Tibetan. The kora was 3 days, we were mostly on an altitude of 4,500 meters over sealevel. The way to the Dolma La was doable, but a bit rough at times. I just walked slowly and waited every 10 feet or so to drink water. We also had to drink lots of water due to high altitude. Anyway, I also made it to the top, 5,650 meters over sealevel. Great feeling. And the entire kora has obviously a deeper meaning behind it. It is not about the meters over sealevel.
After Kailash we drove to Tsaparang to view old monasteries. They were beautiful with all the drawings. But most of them were destroyed. By whom? What do you think…. I guess this was the point where I was getting a bit depressed because whatever you see, everything has been destroyed. And then the nomads were all so sharing and welcoming and the little food they had, they wanted to share with us. At the end of the trip I just had an empty backpack. Driving along old streets from east to Lhasa we met so many nice nomads. We also had to cross lots of check points from the “little green men”. In Lhasa we were supposed to go and look at the Potala Palace. By that time we were all depressed and just wanted to go back to Nepal. I think a few of the group went to see the Potala Palace but definitely not all of us. Some of us were just sitting somewhere with Whiskey and waited to fly back to Nepal.
Here we are in a room and not the tent – so we had hot baths for our feet!
So. Am I glad to have visited Tibet? The landscape is wonderful. Seeing Shishapagma, Cho Oyo, Mount Everest, Lhotse, Kailash and Nanda Devi was remarkable and I will never forget it. Standing on the pass in Nepal, looking into Tibet and then the clouds vanished for a little bit was magical. The Kailash kora did change a lot on how I see things in life. But seeing the daily oppression. Is not very holidayie. Until now, I have never watched anything about Tibet, read a book, or think about it too much as it just makes me angry. It took me a while to go to the grocery shop too.