Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nyalam to Tingri

I got a bunch of Bill's blogs from each day of his trip though China and then to ABC. I will post each one seperately in a series. Oh and I did not edit! Thanks Susan Fisher

Nyalam to Tingri
So we were up early to catch breakfast and leave by 9am. This was to be another 3 ½ hour car ride on a paved road. According to Julio these roads weren’t paved back in 2007 so it is really nice to have a smooth ride! To give you an idea, it used to take 3 days to go from Zhang Mu to Lhasa and now it is only 8 hours. All this in the last 3 years. What was impressive about the ride today was getting to see the Tibetan plateau. The expansiveness of the area was incredible. As we drove down the road we would have 10-20 miles on either side of the car and then it would rise up several thousand feet. The entire area is flat till it reaches the mountains. No boulders can be seen anywhere. It’s like one big carpet. Just tiny little pebbles as the glaciers that came through thousands of years ago grounded everything to a pulp. Then remember that you are 14,000 feet high! I do not know of anywhere else in the world that is like this place this high up. So for 3 ½ hours I became picture happy taking in all the landscape had to offer. By lunchtime we reached Tingri. Not much to say here except it is a small town with only one main road and lots of wandering dogs and yaks. We pulled into our motel (and I am being really nice here) and started to unload our car. The manager came out and said that the newer part of the hotel was full and that we had to stay in the older part of the motel. So we picked up our things and went around the corner. So what, pray tell, could be the difference between the old and the new rooms??? The older rooms only have half of the dirt floor covered where the new room’s floors are completely covered. Nice! I was always told that Tingri was a dump and now I have proof. We grabbed our gear and threw it into the rooms and headed to lunch. Yup, the same old thing. After lunch we asked Geljen what else we could do and he said rest. I am not one to sit down quite yet so I decided to stroll down mainstreet. I was looking for anything that could resemble an internet cafĂ© or an international telephone. I tried walking into several places asking for a phone and was quickly sent on my way. Apparently the standard answer was for them to point next door just so they could get me out of their shop. See, even though I am in Tibet and the spoken language is Tibetan, the Chinese run everything and refuse to speak anything other than Chinese. Even the signs are in Chinese. So even our guide, who speaks Tibetan, gets frustrated because the Chinese just do not want to help. So it was back to the porch at the hotel where we all sat for the next 6 hours (waiting for dinner) trying to figure a way out of Tingri (we were going to be there for 2 days). Dinner was great. What is nice is that the after dinner discussions usually last as long as the dinners themselves. Stories get passed around. We talk about our futures, the climb or the next days events. More importantly, we all are laughing hysterically together at some point in the evening. We all finished our Lhasa beers and it was off to bed. Or so we thought. All night long the dogs of the town were up barking and fighting and driving off the yaks. If that wasn’t bad enough, every truck and car that passed by would sit on their horn till they made it through town. Add this all up and Tingri is on my top 10 favorite places never to visit again! The next morning I talked with the motel owners son to try and find out if there was an international phone anywhere. He was much nicer than the owner and actually spoke fairly good English. He said he thought he knew of a phone and that we should walk around. Each place we went to was either closed or their power was out so the phone wouldn’t work. We found one place but it wouldn’t open till the next morning assuming the power was on. Finally, we found one store that had a phone and it worked! The only thing was the owner of the store knew we were from out of town so instead of charging us the normal 2.6 yuan per minute he said 8 yuan. I had my new friend try to negotiate with the owner and he said that the owner said for me to pay 8 yuan or go somewhere else. Oh how I love the Chinese. So I made my call, paid the 8 yuan per minute and showed him I thought he was #1 with a nice hand gesture. So it was back to the motel for more hours of sitting. All of a sudden Julio remembered that someone had told him there was supposed to be hot springs nearby Tingri. We asked the motel owners son and sure enough the springs were a 5 minute car ride down the road. Once Hoshino found out that there were hot springs he said he would pay whatever it costs for us to go. The man likes his bath house. Since the Chinese control everything, including our transportation, we now had to negotiate the cost of driving down the street and back. For what was not more than 5 miles Hoshino ponied up $40. Highway robbery but welcome to the Chinese. Mind you, our room is $8 a night with food. It was fantastic. You’ve never seen 5 guys so happy to be in a tub of hot water and away from Tingri. We sat there for 2 hours till our bodies turned into prunes. Hoshino was great. He started to come out with all these stories about Tokyo, going to dinner, sake and Geisha’s. Needless to say it was a boy’s day out and well needed. When we got back to Tingri, Geljen felt we all needed beers after such a good day so it was off to one of the Tibetan tea houses. There is such a difference between the Tibetan’s and the Chinese. The couple offered us tea but we all went straight for the Lhasa beers. We all sat there till it was dinner time having realized that we successfully bypassed another day in Tingri!!! The next day we were finally going to be off to the basecamp of Everest!

2 comments:

  1. If this is Julio's team, I hear you guys made the summit. Great job, congratulations, am looking forwasrd to hearing about it and seeing the pictures. Raj Sundaram

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