Monday, February 8, 2010
T27 - The Train to Lhasa
Here's the T27 - the train to TIBET!! We had to take a 48 hour ride from Beijing to Lhasa so we opted for the soft sleeper car and we're glad we did . . .
It was quite modern and comfortable - 4 bunks to a room and a TV in each bed (they didn't pickup any channels . . . but it's the thought that counts).
There were some nice sinks in the halls - the facilities looked pretty clean at the beginning of our journey. . . but things kind of deteriorated as the trip went on - let's just say that 100 people sharing a couple of tiny, squat-style toilets on a moving train is a recipe for disaster!
Well, at 9PM we were off and running into the night. Luckily, I was wearing my trusty G-Shock watch with an Altimeter Function (and some people said I'd never use it . . . ). We were able to keep track of our rising altitude. The Qinghai-Tibet railway is the highest in the world - reaching over 5072 Meters (16 640 Feet) at its highest point, Tanggula Pass. Because there is a severe lack of oxygen at that altitude they pump in extra oxygen for each train car.
1195 M - going up . . .
There was a dining car on the train, too! We ate there a couple of times and the food was not too bad considering we were on a speeding train in the middle of China.
Check this out . . . don't know the exact science behind this one but it seems like the altitude was taking its toll on this bag of chips. We gawked at it for a while but ultimately decided to open it before it burst . . . I'm sure our roommate would have been quite upset to have a bed full of exploded chip crumbs!
3010 M Up, up, up . . .
We started to get our first glimpse of the Tibetan terrain . . . the view from the train was really incredible. At this point, we were getting really excited for our impending arrival in Lhasa.
WOW!! 4975 M = 16 322 Feet!!
Our roommate was pretty nonchalant about the entire affair . . . WAKE UP!!! We're almost there!!!!
Well, time for lunch . . . noticed that everyone was eating the same thing - stir-fried celery. Figured it must be pretty good . . . not exactly the case. After umpteen requests and refusals for some other delicious looking items on the menu, we realized it was all that was left . . . "we'll take two!"
In this photo, you can see a group of monk's over Shawna's shoulder. They were sleeping in a bunk just down the hall from us. It was funny, they seemed more curious about us than we were about them. I wish we could have spoken more to them but their English wasn't too good and well, let's just say my Tibetan is a little out of practice. We didn't get much farther than "Hello" and "Where are you from?" along with a lot of smiles!
When we started to see some sheep and yaks we knew we were getting really close . . .
Arrival! 48 hours on a train seemed like a daunting task but went by rather quickly. We were, however, quite relieved to be off the train and into the fresh air of Tibet!
Our guide and driver picked us up from the station, dressed us with the traditional white welcome scarves, and zipped us off to our guesthouse in Lhasa.
. . . to be continued . . .