Tibet border to Kathmandu,aug 26.
Crossing the friendship bridge and into Nepal our clocks went back 2.45hrs.
The Security much more relaxed here than the Tibetan side, we got 2 90day visas, mine with several wrong dates scribbled across it.
So with visas in hand The 8 of us went to find a jeep to bring us to Kathmandu. The best price was $100 for all of us.
The 8 of us squashed in, with 3 in front 3 middle and 3 in the back,Michael with the gear stick between his legs in front.
The road from the border winds around mountains, through ravines and over landslides, surrounded by waterfalls and raging whitewater rivers. Added to this, is our adolescent driver with a heavy foot and no depth perception, over taking on coming traffic, on bends and over fresh landslides, as the jeep tilts 45 degrees! The sky is on the left and the raging torrents a few seconds freefall to the right.
After an hour and a half or so of gritting teeth we stopped for lunch. First round of daal baht in Nepal for Sinead. Soon we were back in the suicide jeep for NEAR DEATH EXP No_2!!
Completely oblivious to the proximity to death from all sides, our unphased Colm macrae to be, hurtled on, throwing caution and brakes to the wind! Blindly spiriling through the twists and turns of the himalayan foothills, on whatever side suits while picking his favourite songs on the radio to accompany the terror gripping us all.
He casually sailed down one of the most dangerous roads in the world, at the best of times, never mind landslide season!
Soon we arrived in the craziness of Kathmandu driving straight through political protest on the street with armed riot police everywhere. He got us to Thamel just about alive so we reluctantly paid him the money he nearly didnt get several times as a kamikaze driver.
My friend from Nepal, Jigmie booked us into a hotel in Thamel for a few days where we caught up on Facebook and hung around with friends. before we left for Chitwan.
We got a yeti airlines flying pencil to bharatpur. Met by man driving a shell of a jeep clinging on to life. Driving past banana trees and mud huts we arrived at the national park. Shown to our room by two very eager over helpful men, showing us the room the bathroom the wardrobe, the bed,AC, AC remote,the mosquito thing, the various light switches, sockets and so on. To end this financially motivated charade I gave a small tip and they left. We went back outside to check what activities we will be doing and met our guide with huge huge nails! We where paired up a hungro-Italian couple from Qatar for the duration on our programme. Which would start by elephant safari at 16.00... Washing elephants and a Near death with rhinos
Drinking Yak Butter Tea with The Tibetan Nomads of Yunnan. Shangrila. China
Zhongdian, was renamed in 2001 to the fabled lost utopia 'Shangri la' by the Chinese in an effort to boost tourism. It lies on the borders of Tibet, Sichuan and Myanmar amid rolling hills, mountain peaks, plateaus of colorful wildflowers, rare herbs and many wild Animals sitting at an average altitude of 3000 meters. The whole area was once part of Tibet and although the Borders have moved, the Tibetan people and traditions have remained. So if you cannot manage to jump through the hoops involved in getting to Tibet itself, getting here is a good effort.
Getting here usually involves an ass numbing 4ish hour bus ride from Lijiang passing Tiger Leaping Gorge on the way.
The rainy season in is from May to July and September to October, the roads aren't great as it is, so when the rain comes it might be very hard to reach places in the area, and when winter comes around many roads can close.
The old town itself is oozing Tibetan culture, old winding cobbled streets, stupa's lined with prayer flags, and some good old traditional Yak Hot pots. The 300 year old Songzanlin Monastery is well worth exploring, not to mention the giving largest prayer wheel in the world a spin. Each evening the town square comes alive with dancing and music for about an hour or so.
Many people are attracted to the area for its excellent trekking. Treks can go on for as long as you've got time for. A simple not to strenuous day hike, leads from the Shika mountain summit,down through beautiful valleys, forests, colorful meadows, sky blue lakes and past the always watching eyes of a big hairy Yak.
The summit can be reached by the best looking cable car station i have ever seen, all traditionally done up in Tibetan style, complete with prayer wheels!
on our descent we passed some small huts & old log cabins, built by Tibetan nomads who travel with their herds.
Our Tibetan guide met a local nomad and got chatting. The nomad was seeking out his Yaks on his motorbike through the forest. He then invited us back to his cabin for some traditional Yak Butter Tea with some freshly made Yak cheese & Barely bread. Meandering through the long grass, avoiding big Yak bum cakes, we got to a small number of fairly basic and not so element proof, one room shacks.
In the middle of the floor, there was warm burning embers, surrounded by various pots and utensils.
A couple of shelves where home to batches of Yak Cheese, destined for the towns market.
He chatted with our guide, as he brewed our tea and served up lashings of the Yak Cheese.
I peeled it up and opened wide. My face tried to turn itself inside out, like eating the bitterest lemon ever, dipped in sour milk. Although sprinkled with some sugar it went down easier, and i was then offered another plate!
The Yak Butter Tea, was sweet, salty and creamy, and tasted slightly smokey from the fire.
The curious peeking eyes of the nomads little child came around the door, he was trying to figure out who these aliens where. We soon left, thanking the man and made our way back to the cable car station.
A Free Range Cabbage originating in Ireland.