The Rooftop of the World

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Trichang Labrang Hotel

Flag of China  , Tibet,
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A knock on the door from the Dutchman was unexpected, he said the group were waiting in the jeeps ready to leave. The 9 o'clock departure time had apparently changed to 8:30, our guide continues to do anything but guide.  It meant a quick pack up and no breakfast.  I had not slept well again, day number 5 of bad diarrhoea is becoming less funny.  I was worried by a day in the jeep given the unpredictability of motions overnight! 

The first hour of driving continued to stun.  We even stopped off at a flour mill, it was not much to see but amusing how the miller rearranged his 'Tips’ sign as we looked around the timy space.  The drivers had their customary cigarette outside just as I discussed the explosive properties of flour (surface area science in action) and how a spark would send the building sky high.  Further down the road we came to Gyantse and the very impressive Khumblum Stupa and Phalkor Monastry.  It was my first time in a Buddhist monastery and it was quite an experience.  We saw scriptures written in Sanskrit and the most intricate and colourful sculptures.  Pilgrims made their way around offering prayers and gifts.  The really old and crippled somehow made their way up and down the hazardous staircases of the stupa.  There were bank notes all over the place, people just throwing them as they wound around the temple.  We continued to find the altitude tough, gasping for breath as we attempted to get to the top of the stupa. 

Back on the road we continued to drive through unbelievable landscape.  The road twisted and turned, up and down and up and down.  I thought Top Gear must be itching to get out here and do a special shoot.  The road seemed to jump out over crystal blue waters, the white snow-capped mountains always around and about. We passed the Kharola Glacier, but at 5600m people were feeling breathless and very cold so only the most hardy stayed out of the jeep for long.   Hawkers selling gem stones waved them at the windows reducing their prices drastically every second – We’ve really no use for rocks on our trip however and stood firm.

Lunch stop was at a good Tibetan restaurant and unbelievably I had my first proper food for days, some vegetable rice seemed to agree with me and even Polly’s stir fried yak meat and tomato looked tempting.  Downstairs, Polly found some more adorable puppies to play with, their mountain fur making them ridiculously cute.   

Refuelled we set about the final leg to Lhasa, capital of Tibet.  Again we circled a beautiful lake, the blue colour had to be seen to be believed.  We all felt sleepy and sick following the final 5000m pass of our journey.  Headaches ensued and most of us snoozed off before facing another stomach churning descent into a gorge.  The driver was great and although the roads look like death traps he made us feel pretty relaxed. Annoyingly an hour from our destination after another cigarette break he seemed to have a personality transplant and started to drive like a man with a death wish. The traffic had increased as we approached the town and he got stuck into the horn and raced round any object/person/vehicle in our path. He must have had an appointment to attend as he dumped us by the side of the road and as soon as the luggage was out and we were just considering giving him a tip he revved off!

All 9 of us on the trip were holding our breaths about the state of the hotel as we trudged wearily through a packed side street with our luggage. Amazingly Trichang Labrang is a great place, totally decked out in Tibetan style furniture and paintings. Our rooms are significantly warmer than the previous night and have electric blankets!! Heaven. The staff are also lovely although the resident cats are a bit cheeky and meow loudly outside our room demanding attention.

Pols and I decided to hit the town immediately after 8 hours crammed in the car and had a disorientating but fun time wandering up and down the main road outside the hotel. Lhasa somehow seems more foreign than anywhere we have previously been – largely due to immense language barrier – but even food shopping is confusing as nothing looks familiar. We gave up trying to find milk! Polly decided it would be a good idea to try and get some more paracetamol for our altitude heads, but after a lengthy conversation with a pharmacist consulting his phrasebook we ended up with some dodgy looking powders! Very cheap at least, but don’t think we’ll try them.

Feeling tired after our adventures we opted to eat in the hotel restaurant rather than brave the hectic city in the dark. Cuddled next to a heater sharing a cheese and tomato pizza and catching up with football scores and messages from home we knew we’d made a good call. I headed straight up for a boiling hot shower (neither of us have washed for 5 days!) and Pols stayed in the lobby to skype the Gicks on their final night in Delhi.  Apparently two reception staff joined her and had a chat as well! Showered up I struggled to enjoy the first English film we’ve had ‘Stardust’ as my stomach sounded and felt like a washing machine on its last legs. Another uncomfortable night lay ahead – antibiotics surely must kick in soon?
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Jojo on

Another exhausting read!! I have felt freezing cold, breathless and dizzy just from reading (luckily the tummy is not so susceptible to outside influence). I do hope the medication kicks in and you find somewhere warm to stay - Mikie drying his hair in bed was a very strange sight! I had no idea you two were also going up in the skies - you must be bonkers and did Alan really do it too?

Just had a call from Tricia safely back home after a MONTHS absence! Very much looking forward to catching up on all the news that didn't get onto the blogg.

All love jojo and Christopher

triciagick on

Great to speak briefly just now. Hope you both enjoy supper - Mikey looking better thank goodness. Am really experimenting on my profile picture for reasons which will become clear if it works - will seem nonsense if it doesn't! Here I go xxxxxxxxxxxx

triciagick on

It worked - watch that orange jacket x

triciagick on

No messed up as I forgot that when you change your profile picture it changes the previous ones too! I wanted to show you both Dads (in Jane's jacket) standing beside our favourite waitor, before showed you the proud new owner of the aforementioned Northshore jacket. Oh well will have to learn how to post photos on my blog or some other way of showing you photos. Off to check out Alice so will post a sensible comment later. Tons of love to you both - missing you and the whacky places we have been to.xxxxxxxxxxxx

Elizabeth on

Hey guys, it looks and sounds AMAZING! What a crazy Honeymoon! Everything good here at the moment - am back at work -boo but only two days a week! yay! Hanging out at Highfield and have wrangled a lunch invite so Olaf is snoozing upstairs, he can now wave hello/goodbye! will send you guys a video. Not much else to report, George at sea next week playing Ofsted style inspector on Dauntless so busy days for him! We aren't going to be getting the London gig until July now but will be getting more details hopefully soon.
Anyway all my love

Jojo on

Hi Guys - just had my Thursday steak cooked by CJB - nothing else anywhere to be had like that! Have to say I'm suprised at seeing E&G at club who said Charlotte was baby sitting - but had arrived without a tear stain to be seen on visog - it was NIGEL's funeral on the Archer's this evening and I was streaming tears! She must be made of stone.

What is your next port of call? The red line seems to have stopped at where you are and dosen't show next destination.

All love from Bosham xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

sandrarackham on

Hi Polly and Mikey Lovely to read your blog Sounds scarey the altitude sickness Wonderful experience though Take care Lots of love Sandra x x x x

Charlotte on

Not made of stone Jojo and did cry - but secretly listening upstairs at home.....not quite so secret now I have written it here though!!!

Charlotte on

Anyway, blog sounds amazing and I love the look of the prayers...beautiful. Very pleased Mikey is feeling better :-)

Things are good here. Giles has thrown himself into the fitness regime this year and is playing suash almost every night. He is loving it though. I am still trying to get rid of my Christmas bug but am going to the gym with Jamie this evening who has also been throwing himself into the new years resolution!! Need to get the fitness back as have first netball match of the year next week.

Sunday lunch planned with the Stortons this weekend so will venture up to Adsdean in the rain tomorrow to find something delicious - weather here is miserable!! Might see if I can also convince Giles to come for a walk at the same time to test out the new camera.

Lots of love xxxxx

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