I went to
Tibet with my friend, Yoshiko, three years ago. At that time, we were
in third year of the university and we belonged to the cycling club. We
had enjoyed cycling in Europe before respectively. And we also had been
to Nepal to trek together and loved the Himalayan Mountains very much,
so we then wanted to observe them from the other side. Thats why
we decided to go to Tibet for a bike trip together.
We left Japan
in the middle of February with our bikes and heavy luggage. Actually,
we tried to make the luggage as small as possible, but we needed a lot
of clothes that would protect us against the cold. In Tibet, the temperature
would mark 30C at night. And we also needed a tent and many tools
for fixing bikes. Finally it weighed 40kg!!! Fortunately, we could put
them on the plane for free.
one of the gateways to Tibet. We applied for a tour to Tibet at a travel
agency. Anyone who wanted to enter Tibet had to be in a tour at that time.
The tour we chose included a one-way air ticket and three nights dormitory
pass, and a permit to enter Tibet. We stayed there for four days and in
the morning of the fifth day, we were in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
The sky was
very clear and I felt like there were no particles in the air. The temperature
was low and I felt it hard to breathe, because it was 3,600 meters high!
We drank a lot of water so we did not get mountain sickness, but with
that, we couldnt help ourselves wanting to go to the toilet many
times during the bus trip from the airport to the city!
down at the Yak Hotel, we walked around the old town. There was the big
temple named Chokan in the center of it and there was an old-styled shopping
street around the temple. Curiously, all of the people in the street walked
in the same direction, as if there was a custom to turn clockwise around
a temple in Tibet. The clothes they wore were so gorgeous with animal
furs and jewelry such as coral and turquoise. Some men made braids with
their hair and decorated them with red strings. They seemed like very
modern fashionable people.
stayed in Lhasa for a week. During the days, we visited the Photala Palace
where the Dhalai Lhama used to live and some other temples, and we also
bought a lot of food we would need after started to ride our bikes. On
the 1st of March, we were ready to leave Lhasa to Kathmandu in Nepal.Between
Lhasa and Kathumandu, there is one road which runs about nine hundred
kilometers. There are some passes higher than 5,000 meters and the road
conditions are not always good. Of course, in most parts it is a dirt
road and landslides occur. But from the road, we could see silver-shining
Himalayan Mountains including Mt. Everest and other fantastic landscapes
of the Tibetan Plateau. Yoshiko and I started to go through the road.
On the first
day, I could ride the bike only at the usual half speed because I felt
it hard to breath although seven days had passed since we arrived in Lhasa.
We went along the wide river, which was so beautiful with light-green
colors and the shining reflections of the sun. The local people seemed
to use a tractor as a bus, and we met a lot of people on it and we waved
to each other. In the afternoon, we reached a small town which was sixty
kilometers away from Lhasa and we settled in a guest house.
next two days, we went up and down beside the entire canyon. We struggled
with the wind against us which blew after eleven o'clock everyday. But
I would forget my tiredness when I looked back the way we'd come. There
were white brilliant mountains beyond the valley!!
On the fifth
day, the big accident happened. Yoshiko's bike was fatally broken in the
middle of the desert. In fact, her bike wheel hadn't been in good condition
since we departed Lhasa, but we thought it could endure during this journey.
We looked for the part of her wheel's shaft for two hours which had suddenly
flown into the air, but we couldn't find it. We decided to go ahead by
dragging the bikes anyway. Unfortunately, a strong wind filled with sand
began to bother us, and we knew there were no towns for the next forty
kilometers ahead. I felt angry with these circumstances and I wanted to
throw my bike away, but I also knew no one could help us except us. All
I could do was to keep going ahead, believing this tragedy would be a
funny story someday. (like now!)
were few trucks that were going in the same direction as us, we decided
to hitchhike. When we waved our hands at one, a driver of a truck got
off and said '' There are forty kilometers to the next town, Shigatse,
you can't reach there in such a strong sandstorm.'' And then he drove
away! We continued to walk more than thirty minutes and then, found a
building which looked like an office for road construction.
there to ask if we could stay for a night. Fortunately, the truck driver
who said something to us before was in there and welcomed us. He took
us to his room and there were several men there. All of them were gentle
and gave us hot Tibetan tea and apples. We chatted to each other by writing
Chinese characters for a while. Yoshiko and I felt safe and relaxed after
the nightmare and we were glad to get to a place to spend the night. Then,
they offered to send us in their van to Shigatse. What kind people they
were! We took some photos with them and thanked them sincerely. We got
into the back seats of the van and left with two of them. I'll never forget
the moment on the way to Shigatse; the Chinese pop-music filled the van
and there was a huge desert around us and I felt anxious about our journey
because Yoshiko's bike was still broken.In Shigatse, we had to do two
things. One was to repair Yoshiko's bike, the other was to extend the
visa. Luckily there were some street stalls for bikes, so her bike was
barely fixed. But unluckily, we couldn't add any days to our visa so consequently
we had to leave China in twelve days. We were very disappointed because
we wouldn't get to the border of China and Nepal in twelve days. It was
necessary that we decide to go to the next big town, Latse, by bus to
to ride our bikes again from Latse four days after the accident. The highest
pass of the route, where the altitude was 5,250 m, confronted us. The
altitude of Latse was 4,000 m, so we had to go up 1,250 m!
going up a hill, I found it far harder than I had expected. The slope
wasn't steep but I had to stop to condition my breathing every twenty
meters. Some local people who we met along the hill helped me by pushing
the back of my bike. We couldn't communicate enough through language but
the action and smiles were enough to exchange our hearts.
we reached the office for road construction. At the time we were below
half-way point of the pass, so we decided to pitch our tent to keep our
energy for tomorrow.
was still a dart so we were troubled even in the descent. Suddenly, Mt.Everest
emerged in front of us. It had a gradual triangle shape towards the foot.
The shape was quite different from the one we had seen in Nepal. But regrettably,
I couldn't afford to absorb the scenery. We couldn't find any buildings
until nine oclock and I felt maximum fatigue, so we decided to pitch
our tent beside the road. We fell into the tent and began to sleep.
of this place was still 5,000 m, so I couldn't sleep well because of the
clod, choking and headache, actually. When I waked up, I found frost inside
of the tent and the water was frozen. Those situations told us that we
had spent the night in the place equivalent to a freezer.
there were only more three days to the expiration date of the Chinese
visa, so we decided to go to the border by hitching on a truck.
On the return
road, we found a truck stopping in front of a house. Unluckily the truck
was under repair but the owner said he would fix it tomorrow, so we negotiated
the price and came to an agreement.
unluckily, it wasn't so smooth to reach the border. The truck was broken
again and again on the way so we had to wait till it was fixed for hours.
Because of that, we couldn't see the scenery of the Himalayas from the
nearest point because it was already night and so dark.
at the town twenty kilometers before the border, the driver suddenly rejected
the idea to go ahead and we quarreled. Finally he returned some money
to us and we agreed to be leave him there. But thinking after, it was
a very nice accident for us because we could enjoy the last scenery of
The border was a bridge on a rapid river. I looked back and found a hanging mountain. I thought about the people behind the mountain. We had met and been taken care of by lots of people during the journey. They must live their normal life under the deep sky of Tibet at the moment. When I think about them, I feel the time go around the globe and I feel something warm.