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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

12. A journey into Tibet – Back to Kathmandu

July 2012

Previous posts:

A journey into Tibet - Kailash Manasa Sarovar
1. A journey into Tibet - At Kathmandu
2. A journey into Tibet – Mountain flight
3. A journey into Tibet - Manakamana
4. A journey into Tibet - Kathmandu to Nyalam Mu
5. A journey into Tibet - Rest day at Nyalam Mu
6. A journey into Tibet - Nyalam Mu to Zhongba
7. A journey into Tibet - Zhongba to Manasa Sarovar
8. A journey into Tibet - Manasa Sarovar, Darchen and Ashtapad
9. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Darchen to Derapuk
10. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Derapuk to Zutulpuk
11. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Zutulpuk to Darchen and back to Zhongpo
July 2012


We started from Zhongpo at 6:30AM.  It was still dark but Sherpas had woken up early to prepare tea and breakfast. What better hospitality we can ask for? Their service was unmatched and will be remembered for long.

A destroyed fort near Saga
The town was completely silent when we left Zhongpo. After about 2 hours of travel, we reach the town of Saga. Here driver and guide decide to stop for breakfast while we roam around the town. The town seems to be in construction and renovation mode. I avoid taking photos as there are major military establishments. I think I should mention some precautions to be taken by travelers in Tibet:
  •           Do not take photographs of military buildings, army people, and immigration office and check posts. It will cause lot of diplomatic issues and result in your deportation from China.
  •           Do not try to talk to Army or Police. It is not India.
  •           Do not talk sensitive issues about Tibet with local people. Not even with Tibetans.
  •           Do not carry Tibetan flags, books related to Dalai Lama or Tibet independence. If you are lucky, you will be sent back by customs!!
  •           Keep passport with you. It will be checked at many places.



The journey after Saga was uneventful. At one place, driver stops the vehicle to take bath at a stream close by.

Our guide at Paiku Tso

The weather changed after we cross Nyalam Mu. It was raining heavily on the other side of Tibet. As brown mountains give way to green ones, rains lash heavily. What a striking difference in the matter of few minutes!! My dream of taking snaps of waterfalls during return journey had to be abandoned as fog covers the area.


At a check post, Police with an emotionless face comes near our vehicle to inspect. He takes our passport and opens them up in that heavy rain unmindful of the fact that they get wet (he is wearing raincoat). Our heart beats fast looking at the way he treats our passport. Unable to contain our anxiety, we ask him to come inside the vehicle and check so that the passports do not get wet. He stares at us and reluctantly comes in.



It was still raining heavily when we enter Chinese immigration Office. While our guide does the formality of group visa break, we stand silently in the immigration office. Guide returns back and we proceed towards immigration. Now I get a chance to see the drama in immigration office because while entering I was at the end of the queue and missed lot of actions!! The guide goes towards an Officer and gives the documents. Lot of “chin chau chu” chat happens between them. Officer seems to be unhappy. Guide gives more documents. Repeat of “chin chau chu”. This repeats for some time and at some point Officer seems to be satisfied and asks us to proceed further. By then there is a big queue of local people behind the main immigration counter. The Officer asks us to directly go to the front of the queue. When locals object, Officer tells them that we are “Passport people” (Locals on both side just carry ID cards).



On the other side, there is a huge crowd of pilgrims trying to enter Tibet. People were standing on the friendship bridge. It is raining heavily but people have to stand in the queue. It was tough.



Nepal immigration is cakewalk. Guide takes care of that. During that time we have lunch at a restaurant. The journey now is relaxed. Though we are in Nepal, we experience Home coming.

A waterfall that I had missed during onward journey.



On the way back, we see a bungy jumping spot on Bothe Kosi River. Known to be one of the best bungy jumping spot in Asia, It was fun watching people perform the act. It would have been more fun if I had done it!! But that has to wait!!



Can you think what the first thing I did in Kathmandu was? Took bath!!!!

Final words:
The greatest trip of my life ends!! Let me tell you, it was not an easy job. The preparation, effort and money put for this trip was enormous. One has to be either religious or adventurous to undertake this trip. My suggestion is to visit when you are fit and healthy. Do not postpone to the last part of the life. There are many other places to visit during those old ages!! If time and fitness permit, try Indian route. I hear that it is different experience. 

And go as soon as possible. With Tibet opening up, lots of changes are taking place. If there are no disturbances in Tibet, I am sure that the facilities improve dramatically making this trip very easy and simple. Signs of road construction are visible in the parikrama of Kailash. When Chinese can build road to Everest base camp, it is not a big deal to tame Dolma La. The remoteness of the place is decreasing!!

22 comments:

Santosh bs said...

What a wonderful journey you had, you are blessed! Thanks for the entire virtual tour :)

R Niranjan Das said...

That was an awesome trip to tibet and mansarovar. Brilliant narration and photographs.

http://www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

Tibet Treks said...

Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia. It offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet.

Tibet mountaineering

Srikanth Manjunath said...

The virtual journey for me to Manasa Sarovar awesome. I felt i had been with you all the time the way you were narrating experience, and the photographs.

congratulations buddy:-)

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!!

ashwini said...

Aravind,
Nice Pictures and a great travel blog for anyone who is visiting this place.Thanks for sharing.

Aravind GJ said...

Ashwini,
Thanks for your comments.

Srik said...

Wonderful! Wonderful!!

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks Srikanth.

The wild said...

Super trek Aravind ,nice narration as always!

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks Arjun.

Abhijeet said...

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I think, you should check this & participate here, seriously ! So far your writing is little detached, its more of reporting. A good trigger for you to graduate to a new genre of writing.

ALL THE BEST !!!

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Raghu Prasad.K.R said...

hi..
i am raghu from kasaragod..
i like to talk to you.iam very interested in trecking.so if you gave ur number it will be helpfull to me.
mine numbe-+919995419479(kerala).
know kannada

Aravind GJ said...

Raghu,
No problem.
Can you give me your email id.

Mithun Kumar S R said...

Hey Aravind, I happened to slip into your blog while researching on Manasa Sarovar Yatra. I just cant believe how I spent (invested might be the right word) the last one hour and ended up in this last post.
Your travelogue has added fuel to my desire to visit ManasaSarovar further. What a great narration. Thanks for posting your trip.
I might need your help for plannning my trip. Will get in touch with you.
Now I have bookmarked your blog to read through the archives. Looks like I found a gold mine:)

Aravind GJ said...

Mithun,

Nice to hear that my posts helped you.

No problem. I can provide the information that I have.

A Bhopali said...

Just finished reading your blog posts on kailash manasarovar yatra. Read few other blogs on the subject covering Indian route as I was supposed to thru that route this year. Unfortunately it got cancelled due to Uttarakhand tragedy. Now I (65) am going with wife (63) thru kathmandu starting on 13th aug. Your posts and photos are not only excellent but also very helpful for us. My wife has knee problem but can walk 3-4 km. with some difficulty. Can she undertake parikrama on pony keeping in view the second day descent? As we are Jain and intend to visit Ashtapad but it seems the vehicles are not permitted for Ashtapad now. Can she go to Ashtapad on foot? Finally what were the charges for pony/porter? I can easily walk about 8-10 km. daily so do not need pony I think.

Aravind GJ said...

Bhopali,
The second day descent can be hard on knees. Having said that many people in our group were 60+ but still they could descend without any incidents. But a lot depends on the weather. Luckily for us, the weather was good when we crossed Dolma La.

I suggest that you decide about Parikrama on reaching Darchen based on the health and weather condition.

I think pony charges were around 1500 - 2000 Chinese Yuan. You can take a decision whether you hire a pony or not in Darchen based on your physical condition when you reach Darchen. The first and third day of Parikrama is very easy. It is only on the second day where we need to put in all our energies. And I also do not know whether you had any previous experiences with high altitude. High altitude makes all difference!!

Until last year, Jeeps were allowed to Ashtapad.

Depends on how far vehicles can do in the direction of Ashtapad. It will be a long walk if you have to walk from Darchen to Ashtapad. You need a full day for that.

Unknown said...

Hi Arvind,

Fantastic pics and great write up...i am planning on this trip as well.... could you tell me the exact dates when you started from katmandu and were back in katmandu please..... I am trying to figure out what is the best month / dates for this trip.

congratulations and thanks in advance for your reply.

Aravind GJ said...

Unknown,
Thanks for your comments.

I started from Bengaluru on 28th June and returned back on 12th July.

June/July/August are the best months. But even then weather can change any time :-(