Trek to: Hilsa & cross the Nepalese border into Tibet
Internal Transfer: Landcruiser to Purang (aka Taklakot)
Visa required: Yes if British plus an Aliens' Travel Permit
Currency:Chinese Renminbi (RMB)
Time Zone:+8hrs GMT
Day 11, 1/07/10 - Mt Kailash, Tibet
When dawn broke this morning I was already waiting in anticipation; as the rain fell we drove making our way to the Friendship bridge, where Tibet borders Nepal. The border crossing was absolute bedlam, there was pushing and shoving - clearly, out here the concept of forming an orderly queue just doesn't exist.
Our bags were machine scanned and then all the bags (both rucksack & holdall) were meticulously checked through by hand. As there were only two officers performing this duty the whole process was extremely slow and arduous.
When we finally pushed our way through, crossed the Friendship Bridge and took our first step back upon Nepalese ground I could feel my body physically exhale. Up until the release of that sigh I don't think I was fully aware of just how much tension I was holding in my body. The atmosphere on the Nepalese side was a complete contrast to that just experienced some 5mins ago, here there was colour, vibrancy, laughter - the energy just felt so relaxed and free.
We stopped off for breakfast before being picked up to begin our journey back to Kathmandu; at this point we weren't sure how long this journey would take as the monsoon rains tend to cause much disruption in the form of land & road slides. It was good to head off on a bumpy track leaving any thoughts of the prestine & eerily immaculate tarmac road of Tibet behind us.
En route to Kathmandu we stopped off at the 'Last Resort' a beautiful, secluded place where we experienced a complete visual & sensual contrast to that which we encountered throughout Tibet. Here the air felt fresh & we were able to relax, enjoying the colour of a lush, vibrant canyon. This canyon is also home to Nepal’s only bungee jumping facility & the world’s largest canyon swing...but no, I didn't have the desire to try either!
Driving back to Nepal we passed a huge statue of Lord Shiva situated high up on a hillside. A day or so ago the Nepalese Prime Minister resigned (much to the majority's delight) and suddenly police/army checkpoints had popped up everywhere. Apparently, because I was a tourist our vehicle often just got waved through with only a passing scan; basically they were checking for the presence of any Tibetan refugees.
The contrast in scenery between Nepal & Tibet is immense and we now found ourselves travelling through deep green gorges with massive waterfalls spouting from above, a place where cultivated terraces lined the hillsides. The vibrancy I experience from Nepal & its people is something that I'm yet to experience anywhere else.
When we arrived back in Kathmandu my change of flight had been confirmed, though rather unexpectedly this now meant that I was flying home tomorrow at 9:30am. After dropping off my gear I speedily made my way into Boudha to pick up some maps, had a quick shower back at the hotel & then headed to the Responsible Treks office to meet the guys. We transferred our photos and Procras had also come along for a farewell meal.
Being my last night in Kathmandu we all headed out & shared a delightful meal in the Boudha Kitchen. Pretty much every starter on the menu was ordered so we could all tuck in & have a taster of everything.
It was so hot during the night I opened all the windows & much to my absolute horror soon found the room crawling in huge cockroaches. Damn I'd forgotten just how big they are & how fast the blighters run, what I'd also forgotten is that they can climb walls...which of course also meant they could climb onto my bed!