Bridges have always been positive objects for me. I have spent many nights in their shelter, they have kept me dry and warm, reflecting the warmth of the day.
A good friend once told me a nice metaphor that uses bridges as a description for a friendship.
You can see them as connection between two people that builds from both sides. They both have to take care of their end of the bridge and both have to be willing to keep it standing, otherwise it will get useless and eventually brake. (Allan G.)
Right now I am sitting under a bridge of the train to Lhasa. We searched for shelter here for the horizon got covered by black clouds that came speeding towards us. Snowflakes are now all around me and reducing sight to less than 100 meters. One advantage of snowflakes is, that they don’t make you real wet, at this temperatures they hit your jacket and slide down to the ground. The disadvantage is, it doesn’t matter how big your shelter is, just like sand they fly around every corner and even when looking down to the ground they manage to hit your face.
But I don’t want to complain, snow is always better than rain.
Three days ago, on the 20th of August, I still sat at the shore of a lake at about 3000 meters height, mild temperatures and lots of oxygen to breath.
We left that lake the next day quite late but still managed to climb up to 4100 meters. Yes, that is only 1000 meters, but considering that air is getting remarkably thinner here and our bags are still stuffed with an extra 20 kg of food, we were astonished that we made it that far.
Somewhere in between the road was blocked by a military Jeep. They held the road free for a convoy coming from the mountains that was about to enter the road right in front of us. We managed to slip through so we wouldn’t have to wait until the hundreds of trucks have passed us. Friendly as I am I said hello in Chinese to one of the soldiers sitting at the side of the road and obviously daydreaming. The poor guy must have thought I am a superior of him. He jumped up, and stood straight, saluting me with his hand up at his head. He quickly noticed that I was not looking like his boss at all and relaxed again. I must say, I kind of liked being welcomed in such a disciplined way;0).
As we came arround the last corner of the day, we both couldn’t believe our eyes. There where huge sand dunes right in front of us. The really didn’t belong here in our opinion, we had left the desert behind for good and getting back to it that soon at a height of 4000 meters was none of our wishes. Luckily it was only two of them looking quite strange in front of the snowy mountaintops of the pass we were about to cross. I was imagining that they both had gotten lost and now met each other, both asking the same question:” Excuse me, do you by chance know the way to the desert?”
We raised our tent right in between them so we could get that desert feeling that we have missed so much once more. Not really, more because it seemed to be a quiet and wind still place with a clear little river.
Since we had decided to go easy on the next pass, which would bring us close to 5000 meters, we slept long, started late and against our security-planing, in which we had chosen to climb only 500 meters, we couldn’t hold us back and finished the pass in only a few hours. At 4800 meters we reached the up to now highest point of our tour.
Sorry enough, it was the most unspectacular pass I’ve ever seen.
Flat round hills overgrown with grass, no steep mountains or rocks that I would expect at such a height. In fact, it looked more like a pass at about 2000 meters. The highest point itself was marked by a huge Tibetan prayer flag accumulation that to me didn’t look like the ones on the postcards. It was more like a gathering of trash. People leave all kind of things here to sacrifice to their good. Incense-sticks, clothes, jewellery, pictures fruits and other food.
What I don’t understanding that they also seem to leave all kind of rubbish here. Empty beer cans, whine and schnaps bottles, smoked cigarettes broken sunglasses and many more.
The whole statue looked more like a overflowing trashcan that hadn’t been emptied for years.
The even less respectful people, which we saw yesterday from our camping place, run to the statue, take a picture in in Buddha-pose in front of it, grab some Tibetan prayer flags to wipe their ass after shitting directly behind the statue (no joking). To me, such a behavior would mean total disrespect to the tibetan culture, but they just give a shit.
Although we both were really short of breath we decided to write the names of three donators with white stones on the neighboring hill. We had promised to do so in our crowd funding project and thought that this, the highest pass on our tour, would be the perfect place.
At this point: dear Tracy, dear Cordula L. and dear Cordula G. (yes, we wrote the name twice for two of you by chance had the same name)
thank you again.
Because we both felt quite good and didn’t have any symptoms of the acute mountain sickness (AMS) we decided against common hikers rules ( hike high, sleep low) to stay at the pass and raise our tent here. I payed for my ignorance against this rule with a sleepless night and heavy headaches during the night, the pre- symptoms of AMS. But we were well prepared for every case and so there was no danger for my health.
In addition, it was the coldest night of the whole trip. -10C*. We again were really happy about having chosen the warmer version o our sleeping-bags.
When I got up in the middle of the night to piss, I could hardy open the zipper for a thin layer of ice had covered our tent.
We again stood up late for it is not recommendet to exhaust yourself to much at the first day in such height.
Now I sit under the bridge of the train to Lhasa. Every time it passes I wonder who is sitting in it, who has the permit to go to Tibet. I would still like so
much to go there. Now that we are only a few hundred kilometers away, it is even harder to take the next turn to the left and not follow the mainroad to Lhasa. But we have a nice alternative, we tried everything to get there and this lead us to a very small road along the Tibetan border. Today we will enter it and for about on week there won’t be any civilization, no trucks to run me over.
It has stopped snowing and the sun is burning down on us again. Let’s go as long as the weather is with us.
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