A Travellerspoint blog

Tintin in Tibet

10 days in Lhasa

sunny 25 °C

Tashi Delek

Sadly enough, my ten days in Lhasa with Marjorie are almost finished now. The flight Kathmandu - Lhasa was good, we had a lovely view on the Himalayas with the highest peaks piercing through the clouds.

Of course there was the south face of Everest

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We had a lovely time visiting a lot of monasteries in and around Lhasa by car, bicycle and on foot, climbing a lot.

Drak Yerpa Monastery, we visited by bicycle, first passing a baby-pass (300 meters of climbing) and then the serious work: 1200 meters climbing over 16 kms, not easy on a bicycle for an eight-year-old :) The reward we got at an altitude of 4885m, once again, made up for it and the downhill was nice, it was snowing lightly.

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Drak Yerpa monastery is beautifully set in the mountains about 28 kms outside Lhasa. Guru Rinpoche, who introduced buddhism into Tibet is said to have meditated seven years in a cave there but, then again, he is said to have meditated in every possible Tibetan monastery you visit.

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Next day, we visited Tsurpu Monastery, a two and a half hour drive outside Lhasa, mostly over dirtroad, not very comfortable sitting in the back of the car, bumping around.

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On Friday, we took bus 14 out of Lhasa and started climbing on foot, up to Ketsang Monastery (not sure about the spelling), towering high above Lhasa. Further up, there was another monastery with just one old monk who showed us around a bit. After that, we still had to climb a lot to get to the summit of the mountain, covered in prayer flags.

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We descended on the other side of the mountain, which was very steep and there was no path to be found, not easy for somebody with a fear of heights!
We got down to Sera Outze Monastery (again, not sure of the spelling), the yellow monastery you can see high above the famous Sera Monastery.

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Then after descending further, we finally got down to Sera Monastery, I was so happy to have solid ground under my feet again!

To end with, here's a picture of a delicacy sold at Lhasa supermarkets

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Tomorrow morning, I will fly back to Kathmandu and probably start the Annapurna trekking on Wednesday, so, once again, I will probably have limited internet access from Wednesday on. Will write all about the trekking in about two weeks.

Posted by Gitan Jean 23:58 Archived in China Comments (5)

Kathmandu

sunny 26 °C

Almost a week in Kathmandu and time to get away from here.
Thamel is the tourist hangout in Kathmadu and it is nice for one, maybe two days, but I have been here for five.
Namaste sir, tiger balm, good price, you smoke sir, hashish, good quality sir, coke, sir, sex, sir, nice Nepali woman sir, where you from, sir...

But, flying back to Lhasa on Saturday, to see Marjorie for about ten days, so that's good!
And then after, probably doing the Annapurna circuit.

Take care everyone!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 09:08 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

Lhasa to Kathmandu by bicycle

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Namaste

We have made it! Lhasa - Kathmandu by bicycle, passing by Everest Base Camp!

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We have cycled sixteen days in a row, covering eight passes and a few baby-passes.

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Describing the tour day by day would lead me a bit too far and it has already cost so much time to upload the pictures, so, I will just mention some stats and let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Distance covered: 1086 kms

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Longest day (in distance): day 14: 97.13 kms

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Longest day (in time): day 15: 5h 10 mins of cycling over 94 kms

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Quickest day: day 5: 92.26 kms with an average of 31.03 kmph

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Slowest day: day 10: 32.36 km with an average of 12.97 kmph

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Top speed: day 7: 65 kmph

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Highest Pass: day 8: Gyatsola Pass 5,248m

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Thoughest days: day 10 and 12 to and from Everest Base Camp, mainly because of the dirtroad

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But, we have made it to EBC, by bicycle!

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And then we had to make it back to the paved Friendship Highway over... dirtroad

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Why yaks don't need a hanky? Yak yak yak

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I was so happy to reach the Friendship Highway again that I literally kissed it, pics will follow later, could not take them myself...

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And then there is the world's longest downhill, all the way from a 5000+ mountain pass in Tibet to Nepal's lush forest. Amazing to see green plants, birds and butterflies again, and the smells! Kilometers without pedalling, steep downhill, gorgeous!

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True, once you cross the Nepali border, roads tend to be in a slightly lesser state.

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Nepali food, though

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9 Nights of camping, 5 nights in hotels, this was the best one by far:

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Arriving in Kathmandu is arriving back to pollution and traffic madness

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And time for a well deserved:

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Posted by Gitan Jean 08:51 Archived in China Comments (10)

Lhasa to Kathmandu on a bicycle!

Lhasa > Gyantse

overcast 20 °C

Hello, folks

After our fourth day of cycling, we have all arrived in Gyantse (200 kms from Lhasa) today. We are a nice little group of two Brits: Stephen and Amy, an Australian: Werner, a Norvegian: Thomas, my French friend Marjorie and me.
We have done 200 kms so far and have climbed two passes, the Kambala pass (4800 m) and the Karola pass (5050 m) and surprisingly we all made it quite easily.
Tibet is so beautiful! It is surreal to cycle through the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas and the people are so friendly! Pictures will follow soon, the colours are amazing.
Today was an easy day, 56 kms over 'flat' terrain with an average of almost 30 kmph. It is just some amazing cycling: straight roads that go on for kilometers and kilometers with snowy tops in the background and lakes with the most beautiful colours I have ever seen on the side.
After camping three nigts we are now treated to a night in a nice hotel and I can tell you we will enjoy it! Two out of the three nights camping, it was raining and hailing the whole night. And then of course there's the nice bed and shower you usually get when staying in a hotel.
Tomorrow, we have 97 kms to go over relatively flat terrain, all the way to Shigatse.
The thoughest climbs are still awaiting us, with a pass of 5.200 meters and Everest base camp at the same height.
Will tell you all about it soon!

Take care everyone

Posted by Gitan Jean 05:36 Archived in China Comments (5)

Lhasa

sunny 25 °C

Arrived safely in Lhasa, staying at my friend Marjorie's nicely decorated flat, we are much better off than the rest of the group, who are staying in a crappy hotel. Not writing about Tibet's sad history, I am sure you all know about it and if not, you can look it up, you can't here :)
At first sight, Lhasa wasn't what I had expected at all. It is all big, well paved boulevards but the old town of Lhasa, I found out afterwards, has got a lot of charm.
We have visited the Jo-Kang temple this morning, which is really impressive. Tibetan people have to queue for hours to go to prayer, tourists just pay 8 euros and walk in... All Tibetans are carrying big thermoses with butter in them to keep the butter candles going and they drop quite some bank notes at statues all around the temple. In front of the temple, there is a lot of Budhists prostrating and hords of people walk all around the temple clockwise, swinging there prayer wheels, all very picturesque.

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After lunch we visited Potala palace, the main residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959 when the fourteenth Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala in India. The 13-storey building measures about 400 metres north-south and about 350 east-west and has over a thousands rooms. It is a good walk up the steps to about 3800 metres to reach the palace's upper floor.

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The altitude has only struck me in the sense that I do not sleep too well at night, but no headaches, vomiting, coughs, diziness, so that's a good thing. We'll have to climb a lot higher still though so altitude sickness can still strike.
Tomorrow, we have a busy schedule again, visiting two monasteries outside Lhasa and then we'll have to pack for the big bicycle tour. So, next two weeks at least we'll be 'away from civilisation' so chances are I won't be able to update my blog very much, but I will try to make it up once back in Kathmandu.

Next day, we have visited Dre Pung Monastery, Norbulingka: the Dalai Lama's summer palace and Sera monastery.

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Tashi delek

Posted by Gitan Jean 10:05 Archived in China Comments (1)

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