Oct 2008: What the traveler saw...
On the road to Qomolangma - Mt. Everest - Base Camp
On the road to Qomolangma (Mt. Everest)
Our Tibetan guide, Jigme, and his driver cruised along with us in a Ford Bronco from Lhasa up to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse. From there, we traversed up over amazing switchback roads with eye-aching views of the Himalayans and finally bounced along a dirt road to the foot of Qomolangma or Mt. Everest.
Oh, it's just all so BIG - Awesome!!!
BIG is the word
It’s like all of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado thrown together into one single territory. And it's all BIG SKY country, but with fluffy shining white clouds
Tibet seems even bigger because the landscape is so barren, it is all unhidden.
We were so high up, the sunlight is so much stronger, and so everything becomes so pinpoint clear that ones’ aching eyes feels like it’s taking in more.
We traveled through towns and villages, over snow-covered passes, and mighty two-lane switchbacks.
Of the people, we saw teens on motorcycles herding sheep, kids going to and from new schools everywhere, and mostly people with lives who look like they have somewhere to go, something to do when they get there, and people expecting them and loving them.
In a couple of towns, older folks placidly sat around in the sun babysitting, chatting, and playing board games.
Pool is popular and many towns had a pool table set outside in the sun with young and older men cueing up for a shot.
From time-to-time, a pilgrim with arms and legs protected by wood panels and/or leather would be flinging himself into full prostrations along the highway’s shoulders and ostensibly would do so the entire way to the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
Unlike most colonial or neo-colonial places, there wasn’t extreme poverty or any slum-like neighborhoods. A few kids would beg, but it was more for snacks than rather out of desperation. After receiving a few coins, they’d run off and do what kids do - play tag and ball, run along narrow ledges of dirt, and just enjoy being alive. We saw only one young woman with a child who looked destitute and seemed possibly homeless. But she was clearly the exception.
If anything, even the smallest towns were busy with new roads being extended through, old houses being repainted, and often, a new school was the tallest building in sight.
Of course, there were yak everywhere. All sizes, colors, and hair lengths.
October is harvest time and everywhere, farmers gathered the staple - barley. Tractors, trucks, and wagons hauled huge stacks of barley along the modern 2-lane highway to market.
Barley is turned into the staple foodstuff, tsampa. Tsampa reminds me of poi, a soft, shapeless, and tasteless staple that fills the stomach and upon which you place different foods to give it taste and variety.
Our guide, Jigme, a devout Tibetan Buddhist, wanted to stop at every temple en route to Mt. Everest. We had started to glaze early on - ABT syndrome - and reached an accord to basically enjoy the scenery and our walkabouts in town streets.
Our stop at one Nomadic camp is on the previous video. Every yurt had a small solar panel propped up on the side of the roof getting most sunlight. Trucks and tractors rested alongside horses and donkeys. Their yak herds grazed far and wide. Pop music blared from boom boxes as the nomads sat about relaxedly in circles.
Note: You may need to wait a few seconds for the video to start - buffering stuff.
Let's do a "walk-about" & really see...
an investigation into how we know what we know;
of distinguishing truth & fact
from deep seated beliefs and reflexive opinion.
What the traveler saw...