Starting at the end
of August, I spent a little over 2 weeks on a trip focusing on Tibet. My
friends Dan and Yvonne and me started in Beijing, and after spending the
first day on our own joined up with a group of about a dozen. We spent a
couple more days in Beijing as a group, then boarded the new train that
for the first time connects
Beijing with Lhasa, Tibet by rail. The train ride
lasted about 46 hours, passing through some really amazing landscapes.
The lush lowlands give way to a much sparser beauty as the trip
progresses. The route went above 16,000 feet--the highest train in the
world, and high enough that they pump supplemental oxygen into the
train cars to keep the passengers from getting altitude sickness.
On arrival, we had
several days in Lhasa, Tibet's political and spiritual capital. The Potala
Palace (Dalai Lama's former seat of government) is well known, but to the
locals, the temple known as the Jokang is Tibet's spiritual center and the
destination of their pilgrimages. Next we boarded our Land Cruisers and
headed away from the city. We went to Gyantse, Shigatse, Sakya, Rombuk (by
Everest base camp) and finally over the border to Nepal. Our time there
was short, but between the under-construction roads and the washed-out
places and general disarray it was quite an experience. After a short time
in Bangkok on the way home, it was back to work...
Overall - Short Version