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On the road to Tibet
Report 24/3 to 27/3

The Kodali Gorge marks the border between Nepal and China (Tibet). Nepal is on the left, the Friendship Bridge in the middle, and to the right and top of the picture is Tibet. Zhangmu is the village on the hillside on the upper right hand.

Ting Sern writes,
We woke up very early in the morning (5am) to prepare for the trip to Tibet. After an early breakfast, we started transferring about 45 pieces of baggage to the lorry. We followed the road from Kathmandu to the chinese border townof Zhangmu (2170m).

After spending about 2 hours on the Nepali side of the border (the road was excellent until now), we walked over to the Friendship Bridge (the border between Nepal & China), complete the border formalities, and boarded a lorry for a “short” (2 km) ride into Zhangmu. The ride lasted 1.5 hours, but it might have been eternality for some of us. A ride on the back of the mule is certainly a lot better in this aspect!

“Ai-yoh” exclaimed Rozani as lorry hit a big pothole and threw everybody to the left. It was a great relief when concrete pavement was entered. Welcome to Zhang Mu! Another customs and border formalities awaited us. It took us about 1 hour to clear this one, standing in the drizzle. This was the first time I felt very proud to hold a Singaporean passport – the border officer asked, ” You from Singapore?”, I said “YES!” “Very good”, came the reply. They started asking me questions like “How long I will be here? Where I am going?”. A very friendly exchange indeed.

Luckily, the hotel was just 50m away from the border post. We walked there, got our room keys and checked in. The first thought was a nice hot bath – so Beng Cheong rushed in first. 5 minutes later, I heard a scream – no hot water available. Dinner was at a small restaurant at the other end of town. Since all of us was already pretty exhausted by the day’s events, we went to bed rather early.

Ting Sern writes,
Today, we go up to the Tibetan Plateau (Nya Lam) – 3800m. We packed into 4 wheel drives (4 to a car – excluding tha driver) and left ZhangMu at about 10am. The road spirals up its way along the spectacular Kodari gorge, up to about 3100m. After driving for about 2 hours and only a mere 3 km (in a straight line) … we hit a major obstacle – landslide which blocked the road. This landslide had happened only a few hours ago. So after hanging around for 3 hours waiting (for a miracle to happen?), we return back to Zhang Mu. Back to the same hotel and the same room, and after having dinner in the same restaurant, our rooms suffered a black out. I am actually keying this report via my headlamp!

At the Friendship Bridge, the team basks in the warm sun. This bridge represents the border between Nepal and Tibet. From left, Ting Sern, David, Beng Cheong and Gil.

Beng Cheong writes,
Hi there, beng cheong here. Since yesterday, I haven’t gotten any decent form of body clean-up. So.. I decided to do the necessary? YES,… a cold bath. Well I must admit that this is my fastest record time in the bathroom, 2 minutes! Imagine losing your feeling of touch just after 5 seconds of putting your fingers under a tap of running water.

For tomorrow, we’ve decided to ferry our 46 pieces of baggage across that landslide. For safety, we planned to secure a fixed rope across the landslide to safe guard those porters ferrying the loads. Together with 4 sherpas, some chinese porters, Rozani and myself, we will move off early morning as team 1. The rest will follow-up as team 2 to ferry the rest of the gear.

It’s still raining right now!! Hope that the rain will not loosen up another slide? “Touch Wood”.

I have a strong feeling that the hotel is trying to save power rather a real black out. Why? Stuck my head outside the window, I could see lights everywhere except at our hotel?

Dave writes,
We’re on the way again. A fine duffel shuffle across the landslip gully makes our day. Two dynamite blasts by the chinese engineers don’t seem to have made much difference at all. Two hours later, We’re in Nyalam (3700m) -N28 deg 9’33.8″, E 85 deg 58’50.0″ . Architecturally, ZhangMu is a blot on the landscape compared to Nyalam which has a modest amount of traditional houses. Snow on the ground. Team in good health. The spectacular Kodari gorge and its dangerous roads are now behind us. The roads ahead appear much safer than those we left behind.

This is definitely Tibet now – the toilets leave much to be desired. You really need a very strong stomach & nose to withstand the stench of the open sewers. Nothing much seems to have changed since my last visit here in 1997.

Checking out.

Ting Sern writes,
We went for a fine acclimatisation climb near Nyalam – a little rocky outcrop about 200 meters above the town. 3 members (Gil, Beng Cheong & Rozani climbed to the summit) whereas the two of us turned back about 50 meters from the top of the ridge. A nice walk.

Most of us had a head wash, although having to break surface ice of the water barrel to get to the water underneath was a novel experience.

Hopefully, these rather cold shampoos will be infrequent. Otherwise, some (Beng Cheong) might decide to forgo the shower completely until we return to Kathmandu or Singapore.

Tomorrow, we will head for Tingri (4300m). Weather is fine though windy (typical) and team in good health.

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