Kathmandu to Luxury Lhasa
A detour proves welcome
Kathmandu was mellow but fun, Lhasa was a life of luxury and huge meals
Our expedition begins in the historic and peaceful city of Kathmandu; if you have been reading the international press you might wonder about the peaceful bit, but we can assure you it is. The rest of the country (apart from the Everest region) is suffering a Maoist insurgency, a small number of hardcore fighters making a lot of trouble. See our Political and security assessment for Nepal for some background.
You can only be sure someone is on the expedition when the money is paid; Sukhi Sukhwinder from the Punjab, India, arrived on 30 March, paid that afternoon, we processed her expedition permit from scratch on the 31st and she left Kathmandu with the crew on the 1st of April - the Explore Himalaya office is efficient!
More on Sukhi's amazing story later.
The crew and Sukhi left earlier than our original plan because there were rumours of a strike on the road from the 2nd to the 12th of April so Jamie sent the crew in early.
Always pleasant, we took it easy here with only a few beers at lunch time and no late nights (Jamie's 5am just before everyone arrived doesn't count). The first sickness was Jamie, Kathmandu resident, but the drugs may have worked, or else evenings at Sam's and New Orleans:
5 April - to Lhasa
The Maoists caused unexpected luxury; there was a strike on the road to Tibet so instead we flew to Lhasa with a view of Everest included. After the laughably dire accommodations on the Zhangmu-Nyalam-Tingri route we were shocked at the upscale start in Lhasa, not the hardcore expedition beginning, but we weren't complaining.
The gleaming airport building was just the beginning, the Great Tibetan Mountaineering Hotel felt absolutely brand new, the sheets luxuriously soft and what hot water!
We all had altitude headaches - Lhasa is at around 3600m, but these were easily cured with drugs. There was no loss of appetite though:
Of course the real reason to visit Lhasa is the awe-inspiring Potala Palace:
In the Potala some Americans (and not ours) enlivened the tour with questions such as do the Dalai Lama's children still live here? (He is of course a celibate monk, the lineage is perpetuated by reincarnation) and while admiring the 3721kg gold 5th Dalai Lama's stupa, right after the guide explained this the question came "that must weight a lot, how much does that weigh?"??? Several smartarses quoted 3721 kilograms!...
The Jokhang is the holiest gompa - temple - in Tibet, an atmospheric place but no photos allowed inside.
After acclimatising in Lhasa the road trip to Everest BC began...
© Jamie McGuinness - Project-Himalaya.com - 2005