Day 319 – Mind your heads
Leaving early as we are rolling two days into one today, to try and catch up on our itinerary so as not to miss out anything in Lhasa. So we start our long journey, hearing stories from our guide and driver about other groups being stuck due to car trouble and weather hindering progress.
The journey is slow today again and in the end takes us about 12 hours. We had a couple of high passes that created for some more white knuckle rides and with the amount of traffic we were passing coming the other way realised just how much the weather had affected this area and the traffic that uses this one and only road. Negotiating oncoming vehicles whilst looking up for the fear of falling snow, rocks or just debris made for some interesting driving and at this point we should mention the skill of our driver. When we are sliding and skidding due to snow or muddy conditions and there is a stupid amount of meters below us till the bottom of the valley oh with a raging river at the bottom of it just for good measure, our driver is still cool calm and collected. Though we have learnt the signs for when the tense times are upon us – the music goes off and we stop for a lot of fag breaks.
The road led us down into a valley/gorge at one point and we thought that this would make the going a little easier, we even had tarmac for some of the way. But in fact we were still stopped a number of times. Passing convoys of trucks and coaches, as this road has been closed for days due to avalanches and land slides, we lost count how many. We also passed a number of heavy duty JCB’s and bulldozers who had just finished clearing. Turning a bend in the road we come up against a line of trucks who we believe have just broken down, however on further inspection we see that round the next bend the front lorry driver has just witnessed two huge f**k off (sorry but the only word that can be used to describe the sheer size of the boulders, no houses, that are in the road) huge landslides, which he could have very well been under.
Infact just metres down the road from this we see a 4×4 on top of a avalanche with some very sizeable rocks making a very good impression on the bonnet, it looks like nobody was hurt but we realise just how much we want to get out of here.
All is not that bad though as we come through the gorge and entered into a valley where all we can see are huge snow capped mountains all majestic in front of the Tibetan blue sky background. This is the Tibet we have come to know and love and what we wished to see. We also got to drive around one of the sacred lakes in Tibet, by no means the biggest we are continuously reminded by the guide, even though it is huge, but very beautiful, with its aquamarine water and mountains surrounding it.
We would just like to say that we are enjoying this journey very much and keep mentioning that this is a highlight of the year away, should you be getting the wrong impression. The adversity just makes the experience all the better. And we are not making up these stories, in fact we are not even putting in half of what we experienced otherwise you could be here all day and some of us have work to do!