Friday, September 30, 2011
Leaving on an Overland Journey
Today was the first day of our driving trip from Lhasa to Nepal. We left with four of our friends from the kayak trip. We drove for approximately 6 hours, and arrived in the village of Gyanse. The trip was notable for hilarious company, the crossing of three high passes, and trinket shopping.
We left early in the morning in a bus decorated with prayer flags and khatas. Mom, Dad and I decorated the bus to obtain good luck for the journey. All of the prayer flags were strung along the ceiling in the middle of the bus, and the khatas were wrapped on the luggage racks. Traveling with us were Melissa (a Canadian), Blair (a Kiwi) and his girl friend, Elise (an Australian), our Tibetan guide, Tsewang, and a our driver, Mingmar. Melissa, Blair, and Elise are funny. We spent almost the whole ride joking and laughing.
Along the way, we stopped at three extremely high passes, the highest of which was 5,100 meters (over 15,000 feet). I only noticed the altitude when I stood up too quickly. All the passes had prayer flags and barren landscapes. From one of the passes we could see a beautiful, intensely blue lake from the road. We chose to pay 10 RMB (2 dollars) to have a picture taken of each of us on top of a yak. When I was on top of the yak I felt like a full-on tourist, and I felt sad for the yak. Also, on every pass there were tables full of trinkets.
We are normally not the type to buy trinkets, but Tibetan trinkets are special. The stands had mixed items, some were beautiful and unique, and some were plain junk. There were swords with handles made of yak bone, and claimed yak bone items that were made out of plastic. I bought a necklace with a piece of turquoise for the pendent. Dad bought me some stones that we saw again at the next pass to indicate they were fake. I still like the stones even though they probably came from Beijing.
We arrived at our hotel in Gyanse satisfied with the long day of travel. I was excited to have gone up to an altitude level where most people would never had dreamed of going. I am happy with my necklace and hope we will have just as good of a day tomorrow.
Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!