Entry into Tibet – Part 2

Entry into Tibet – Part 2

17th June 2005: Entering Tibet…Borderland Resort-Zhangmu-Nyalam

Today we bid goodbye to Nepal and enter the Roof of the World-Tibet. A scenic drive of about 45 mins through the Nepalese countryside took us to Kodari.
Enroute to border


This is where the Friendship Bridge lies. A small bridge over the Bhote Koshi River connecting the 2 nations. It was 11:15 am when we reached the bridge and we were asked to complete the necessary formalities.
Bhote Koshi River at the border

Soon we were informed that the Chinese officials were having lunch and the bridge would therefore be closed for an hour or so. People on the left side of the bridge(Nepal) had just finished their breakfast and people on the right side(China) were busy lunching. I was quite amused thinking about the Chinese having their lunch at 11 am. Then I realized that even though geographically people on either side were located at the same place, practically there was a time difference of 2 hours and 15 mins. The time on the other side of the bridge was 1:30 pm.
I still ponder over the time zone thing. Seems completely illogical sometimes 🙂
Friendship Bridge

We were let into their territory after some thorough but swift frisking. Land cruisers were waiting for us on the other side. 4 pax per Land Cruiser and it was mandatory that atleast one Sherpa was present in every Land Cruiser. The reason behind that was very simple. Sherpas are fit and have excellent physical endurance and resilience when it comes to high altitude and they could act as first aiders for lesser mortals like us in emergency situations.Our driver’s name was Saachi (I had to watch the video to recollect his name. It’s been 2 years guys :)) It was in this trip that we discovered an actor within ourselves. We(ourselves and drivers) had to enact all sorts of things to establish a two way communication 🙂 Certainly, actions speak louder than words.

The 1000 km(approx) drive from the border to Lake Manasarovar began. The roads were rugged and narrow climbing past a number of hairpin bends which led to the 1st Tibetan town across the border-Zhangmu. Elevation -7400 feet approx.

The frisking that took place at friendship bridge was just the trailer of what was to happen later in Zhangmu. The long inevitable formalities took place all over again and this time it was seriously time consuming.

Finally, cleared and freed from all the hassles, we decided to have tea in a restaurant. Monetary business was on full swing. Indian, Nepali currencies were exchanged with Chinese ones. 1 Yuan = 6 Rs (approx)

It was time to move ahead to the town of Nyalam situated at an altitude of 12200 feet. The drive was fantabulous. The winding road passed through mossy gullies with cascading waterfalls. Some of them even washed our cruisers. Gorgeous lush green gorges sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, left us spell binding. Heart beat skipped for the 3rd time 🙂

L-R: Dad, Karma Sherpa, Basant( Enroute to Nyalam)

Enroute to Nyalam

As we approached the town of Nyalam, the greenery that accompanied us all this while gave way to barren landscape. There was a stark contrast in scenery within a matter of 15-20 mins. We were now entering the vast expanse of the Tibetan plateau.
Approaching Nyalam

We reached Nyalam at around 4 pm and we were lodged in Nyalam guest house. Each room had 4 to 5 beds and was decent enough for a place as remote as this. We could sense the chill in the air and I had to pull my pullover out 🙂

Nyalam Hotel
That’s a clinical mask that I am wearing in the above pic.
After settling down, our main guide(not Basant) suggested that it was the right time to begin the cycle of consuming Diamox tablets. These tablets help the body acclimatize at a faster rate. But many, including myself and my dad refrained from taking the tablets and allowed the body to acclimatize at its own natural pace. It doesn’t mean that we disobeyed our guide. We just felt that we were better off without the tablets and we took this decision only after seeking consent.Apart from that it also has side effects. Some of them are: an uncomfortable tingling of the fingers, toes and face, carbonated drinks tasting flat; excessive urination; and rarely, blurring of vision.
This again doesn’t mean that one should avoid this drug. These side effects would be far better to face than facing headache, nausea, dizziness, AMS(acute mountain sickness) etc. So it all depends upon the individual’s mindset.

18th June 2005: Acclimatization at Nyalam

Rest day at Nyalam for acclimatization. It really gets boring if one has nothing to do the whole day. To prevent our mind and body from slipping away into the dormant mode, acclimatization walk was done. We were asked to climb a small hill, atop which there was a pole to which prayer flags were tied. Our goal was to reach the pole. So we began our ascent and every step now seemed to utilize an extra bit of calorie. It certainly was a daunting task for some of the oldies. I wanted to rush up the hill and explore the place above.
Meanwhile, one aunty was struggling to place her feet in the right areas and so she held my hand for support. Even then it took her quite a while to move a few yards ahead. Later, she realized that it wasn’t her cup of tea and she let me free.

Snowcapped mountains right in front greeted us when we reached the top. Ram(another Nepali guide) started screaming….
Yeh dekho, Tibet mein Switzerland. (Look at this, Switzerland in Tibet)

Strong breeze was blowing at the top. Out came the windcheaters.
A few mins rest to catch hold of our breath for having climbed the hill. The descent followed thereafter. I juggled my balance quite a few times and was down in half an hour. I then started shooting other people making their way down.
Conversation with an aunty after reaching down.
Aunty: Mujhe bhi cd ka ek copy bana ke dena please ( please give me a copy of ur cd)
Myself: Zaroor aunty, Mumbai pahunchne ke baad dunga (Sure aunty, I’ll give u a copy after reaching Mumbai)
I was the only guy shooting in the entire group.The beautiful walk of 3 hours undoubtedly helped us get familiar with the climate and environment of the place.
In the afternoon we ambled along the rustic concretized streets of Nyalam. We were delighted to see a place which had supplies of hot water for bathing. Without much delay, we took the much needed shower. 10 yuans / 60 rs per head washed away all the tiredness and we could smell the freshness in the air straightaway:)

Rest of the day passed off uneventfully.

Click here to go to Part 3
[ Published under the author’s permission ]
[ Original publication at www.kailashmanasarovaryatra.blogspot.com on September 11, 2007–the readers are requested to express their comments on the original Blog as mentioned above ]

One Response

  1. Hello Anand,

    This is really a great travelogue.My wife intends to make the pilgremage this July.We are in Navi Mumbai and would like to communicate with you to understand the nuances of the yatra.

    Please drop us an e-mail.

    Best wishes


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