The beginning to BC
Will all of our team even make it to base camp?
As if Nepal doesn't have enough problems...
I was due to fly from Delhi on Air Sahara's inaugural flight to Kathmandu with special drinks and special service etc, when the riots erupted and the flight was cancelled, but I didn't complain about being put up in a good hotel. A couple of days later they put me on Indian Airlines. Bummer for Sahara.
Arnauld was flying Qatar Airlines but their office was destroyed in the riots so he arrived via Thai. Soon the curfews were over and we left without problem. We stayed one night in Dhulikhel (8 Sept) then drove to the border, crossing in the rain to stay at Zhangmu.
10 & 11 Sept - Nyalam
The Nyalam disco has moved! It is more classy but that is only a relative thing, it would be hard to be worse than the last place. It is a "must" experience, but most climbers would say only once in your life. This is were you can see the direction of modern Tibet.
In the event I (Jamie) was the only foreigner there both evenings, all the other climbers going to bed at a far more sensible time.
It is entirely Tibetan-owned and run (no prostitution), although the first night we were sure the female lead singer with her film start looks was Chinese. The second night a crazy Tibetan guide called her over and for some reason unknown to me she draped herself over me for the evening fending all other men away, amazingly enough I was the first foreigner she had met. Her Tibetan was so sing-song it sounded Chinese and even my Tibetan friends didn't always understand her the first time, but it didn't stop them from enthusiastically chatting her up on my behalf.
The format is interesting. Every few songs two traditionally dressed Tibetan dancers twirled around in lively Amdo dances, sometimes two girls, sometimes two acrobatic guys, then after a few numbers like Michael Jackson, Venga Boys (We like to Party!) and crooning love songs (to waltz to!) a guy or girl sings modern Chinese and Tibetan, some sing-along favourites some more raunchy. Occasionally clubbers would also karaoke. Nyalam is not far from the end of the earth but all the dancers and singers were amazingly professional and all have worked in Lhasa.
It was the two dancing girls' last night so no dancing, only drinking, and that included all of the staff. It got messy.
More seriously Arnauld talked with his wife who said his mother was quite sick but a day or two later her condition was not as bad so he is continuing with us.
Driving to Tingri we cross the 5150m Tang La (pass) onto the Tibetan Plateau.
12 & 13 Sept - Tingri 4340m
Thank heavens we had a good Landcruiser for the drive, no head-rattling.
On the surface Tingri is entirely different in character. Nyalam is a village that has turned into a small town full of rapidly growing modern buildings whereas Tingri is still all traditional apart from one Chinese white-tiled building, but both now have mobile telephone service, and both a disco (no, I am not going near it) and many restaurants for truckers. The Everest View Hotel (without an Everest view) is a compound ringed by simple mud brick rooms, an easy place to hang out in the sun. But change is happening, where the family lived is now a smart (by Tingri standards) restaurant, complete with a concrete moat and the beginnings of a cafe in the sun. The family has moved around the ring to a quieter place, the place is tidier and there is even talk of replacing the open pit toilets.
14 Sept - Base Camp 4950m
The new road is finished, smooth dirt and now the drive takes a mere 45 minutes, compared with the previous bone-rattling 2 hours or so. The pace of infrastructure development in Tibet, even in rural areas is staggering. So we are now at base camp and will stay two days before trekking to ABC. More news and photos tomorrow.
© Jamie McGuinness - Project-Himalaya.com - 2004