Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Nepal!!

Well here I am back in Nepal for the second time this year. I know it's been awhile since I've sent an update, so here it goes...

Much to my dismay, in order to visit Tibet you have to be on an organized tour. After countless hours on a painfully slow internet (well I might have mentioned before, the internet was not slow- there were 50 Chinese kids playing internet games at lightening speed, however G-mail is unbelievably slow due to the filters/ sensors or whatever else the Chinese government does to it) I arranged an 11 day tour through Tibet to the Nepal border. I was extremely luck, I was able to join a Portuguese couple's tour; they not only helped decrease the cost of the tour, but also increased the fun significantly. I enjoyed Lhasa as much as I did the last time, maybe even more this time. Because it is winter time, there are many more Tibetans in Lhasa since there is no work for them on the farms. Therefore, there were thousands of traditionally dressed Tibetans spinning their prayer wheels and doing their pilgrimage around the temples and Potala Palace! Not to mention, there were hundreds of Tibetans in front of the temples prostrating themselves for hours on end!! It is hard to describe, but believe me, it was a beautiful sight.

After 4 busy days in Lhasa seeing many monasteries and a few cups of yak butter tea, we headed towards the Nepal border. Although there were many long days in the car, the scenery was breathtaking! I never knew there were sandy deserts in Tibet! We also passed turquoise blue lakes and rivers, went through 5,000 meter passes and gazed at Mt Everest and many other huge mountains. We spent one night at Mt. Everest Base Camp, but before you get too excited let me remind you that it is a major tourist attraction and it was not nearly as dangerous or difficult as you might think. We were able to ride in our Land Cruiser all the way up to the Rongphu Monastery Guesthouse. From there, for $5 a night, I had a perfect view of Mt Everest from my window. However, the guest house is 7 km from the actual base camp (5,200 meters elevation), again we were able to drive the whole way on a gravel road!! Despite the fact that it was so easy to get to, it was still amazing. I cannot explain how massive Everest is, is simply dwarfs all the other mountain around it. The next morning we again drove up to Base Camp to see the sun rise on Mt. Everest. Since China is all on the same time zone, the sun doesn't rise until 8:30 so at least it wasn't too early a morning.

The border crossing was quick and easy, the time change was the hardest thing to get used to! Although all you do is walk across a bridge into Nepal, the time changes 2 hours and 15 min! We decided to dive right into "local Nepal" and take the public bus to Kathmandu. Now that I can compare it to Mongolia, it wasn't bad at all!!! (Although my Portuguese friends did not feel the same way:)) Now that I am here in Kathmandu I am enjoying lots of good food and most of all good bread!!! Heading out not to meet with a trekking agency to organize a 3 week trek around Manaslu and the Tsum Valley and from there I will hop on the Annapurna Circuit again and hopefully be going through Thorang La Pass (5, 400 meters) Christmas day!!

Hope you're doing well and when I get on a computer that recognizes my memory card I will post a few photos!! Happy Thanksgiving!


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