A long journey to Shigatse and Everest Base Camp
Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
176Trip End May 04, 2013
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As we leave Lhasa the views become incredible and our first touristy type stop, a couple of hours into the journey, is Yamdrok Lake. Just stunning. The lake itself is at 4488m however we stopped at the summit of the Kamba-la pass (around 4700m) to view it and then again at the lake itself around an hour later.
After a few more hours in the minibus and a few rest stops later, it was quite bearable as it goes with big/comfy seats and awesome people to talk to, we arrive in Gyantse to look at the Kumbum Monastery there. Cool place but my photos say a lot – its small, dusty and old looking.
Quite unbelievable, at some point during the day, we notice there is a camera on the centre of the dash in our minibus!! We ask Tenzing what the deal is and he says that the government record everything that goes on in the tour buses to ensure that the Tibetan tour guides are sticking to the rules and not talking about political issues to the tourists – wow big brother certainly is watching here!! That made us quite nervous for a bit about what to talk about haha. Tenzing was always more than happy to talk about the Chinese government but would wait until he was sure that no one was listening in. Apparently in the main squares they have audio/visual recording equipment and plain clothes police/army eavesdropping too. Apparently we were also lucky to have a native Tibetan tour guide; the government are nervous about what they talk about to tourists so are actively making tour guide examinations more difficult (having written tests in Mandarin only for example) and soon it is expected that all guides will be Chinese. Glad to visit Tibet now rather than a few years later when China has a tighter grip.
Around 6pm we eventually arrive in Shigatse, however around 20mins before we get there I start to feel queasy and just want to lie down. That's now Anna, Lincoln and myself that aren’t feeling tip top – it must be the change in diet
The others go for dinner and I try to lie down and hope that my stomach starts to feel better. After a couple of hours restless sleep I am woken up by the sudden urge to relieve my bowls. Wow I have never done a shit like that before – it might as well have been me sitting down after a colonic irrigation... well, it was on a squat toilet too haha. The worst part was once that was over, I had to turn around and be sick into the very same bowl (or sanitary ware hole in the ground if you will) – luckily I did manage to flush before I was reduced to my knees heaving carrots. Quite graphic I know, but I just feel I need to write about this stuff haha. After the guys returned, I was sharing a twin room with Lincoln – who was feeling a bit better now, I had to rush to the toilets another couple of times during the night and repeat the same brutal process. Also shared bathrooms are not fun when you are feeling ill and have unpredictable bowl movements
The following morning (25/11/10), still feeling quite sick but not actually being sick now, I rush to the toilet once more for some further intestinal water works and brush my teeth ready to check out. We are on the road again all day today heading to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and I don’t want to be responsible for multiple rest stops, running for some privacy to squat somewhere. Just before we leave though, about an hour after the last visit to the toilet, I get some light movement and was thinking surely this can only be a fart?? It was a nervous moment but I decide to try my luck. Turns out, I should have gone to the toilet again as I sharted – luckily it was only a little bit. I held the group up a bit while I sorted myself out (lol) and then we all went for breakfast.
I ate some dry toast, drank some water and Joey (who was also unwell the whole night but for an allergic reaction) told me of some herbal Chinese medicine that should sort me right out (he studied Chinese herbal medicine for around 6 months as a part of his job) – all we needed was a pharmacist. Anna was feeling a bit better, Lincoln had a much milder case of what I had, Max was developing a cold and Joey with his allergic reaction to something; we were all feeling the effects of altitude and change of diet
While we were waiting for Tenzing to sort out some paperwork stuff to do with our visit to EBC we found a local pharmacist for our bits, I also bought a Tibetan made hat nearby for EBC and we all got harassed by pilgrims/beggars for our food or money. It got to the point where we had to run away with kids hanging off my jacket and adults almost demanding we hand over cash or food. Sad to be there and witness it, but once you give something to one, you would pretty much have 50 or so kids and adults holding their hands out to your face "money, money". Best to just stay clear.
At around midday, we continue our journey to a town near EBC (where we will spend the night) and stop off a few times for food (not for me though – no appetite) and rest stops. Luckily the herbal medicine Joey told me to buy is working after just 2 doses and I don’t need to go to the toilet again that day whilst we are on the road. Unfortunately for Tenzing, the previous nights drinking had played its toll on him and he literally passed out a couple of times at a particular food stop for lunch.
After around 5-6hrs in the minibus, taking it in turns to sit in the front seat (based on who was the sickest and would need to make a quick exit from the bus), we get our first sighting of Everest and it’s awesome, you really do feel like you are on top of the world. We take some photos, but the wind, altitude and temperature force us back in the minibus and on the road for another couple of hours until we reach a small village where we are to spend the night.
When we get there, around 7.30pm, there are load of kids that appear to waiting for us like they were informed of our imminent arrival. We get out the car and are immediately accosted by these kids. They go for our bags that look like they might contain food (ie plastic bags not our actual luggage bags) and grab them from our hands in numbers. Max is the only one to lose his and the contents, including a smashing beer bottle, are spread across the ground with the kids fighting for the food and trying to rescue the smashed beer and drink it – a frenzy of desperation
Before we head down for dinner, I am feeling better but still have no appetite, I feel a nervous fart coming again and head to the toilets. They turn out to be just holes in the first floor of the building to literally a poo room below, so I squat and relieve myself of a fart that has built up – the medicine must have really kicked in now as absolutely nothing else was coming out, just gas. I am much happier now, but each further fart is still a nervous one!
Downstairs in the guest house’s living room – it is literally a living room for the people that own the building, we have dinner (not me) and talk to the Tibetans that own the place. So that we can arrive at EBC before sunrise, we agree to a 5.30am start the next day and head to bed relatively early.