(A mix of travel notes and comments added later)
22-09-2014 – Monday morning.
Such an action-packed day I made it two posts
After a forgettable hotel breakfast—really can’t remember what they had but when peanuts are the most viable breakfast buffet choice it wasn’t much—it was time for the final stuff gear into bag battle.
Today we didn’t have the luxury of extra space on the bus as our bags would be portered several times between here & Kathmandu. If it didn’t fit in the red bag had to stuff into our riding bag, carry some other way or leave it behind. I didn’t have much trouble but donated my remaining snacks (sweets, chocolate & nuts mostly) to the crew and left a rather worn pair of beach shoes in the hotel bin.
I suspect beach shoes are not exactly common footwear in the Himalayas. The trip notes suggested sandals, thongs to Aussie readers, to wear around camp. I get blisters from them so took some Body Glove beach shoes instead. They were great for camp, easy to get on/off and fast drying if got wet. Photographed at our closest camp to Everest, 4480m above sea level, about as far as you can get from a beach!
Having packed the bus it was on to the bike for the last day riding. We descended 470m from the Zhangmu down to the Tibetan border. It was about 8km of zigzag road lined with waiting trucks as a landslide in Nepal has closed the highway.
We’ll ride to, and over, the slip but heavy vehicles can't pass. The plan is to have a bus at the border to run our gear & luggage to the slip. Porters will then carry it across to two buses (for one for gear/bikes, one for us) for the drive to Kathmandu. It gives us about 30km cycling from the border with little traffic, avoids riding into Kathmandu on a narrow busy highway.
Trucks waiting on the Nepalese border (below)
Bas had planned an early breakfast so we wouldn’t have to wait in a long line at the border. We were among the first to arrive, below, something which would become an issue for some later on.
There was some entertainment while we waited for the office to open. Monkeys playing, scrapping and, um, loving on the roof of a nearby building. They must give the wiring a tough time, but seemed to be quite happy up there.
There was some sort of morning parade, ceremony, on the bridge. I wonder if unusual as they had a professional crew filming it. The border didn’t open until it finished (about an hour later than ‘advertised’ from memory).
Morning parade on the bridge? Photo by Helen
It was farewell to the Tibetan crew and Tashi. He’d been an excellent guide, a lovely man and it was sad to think he can’t do what we were about to: Leave Tibet.
Sujan (l) & Tashi (r), Photo by Helen
The last bit of our time in Tibet was spoiled by a bolshie Chinese pair who kicked up a fuss about not being in front of the queue.
I was down the back, away from the front line, but they got quite worked up. Seemed to think that being Chinese gave them priority. There was only one line, no separate queue for citizens as some countries have, so it was tough luck they arrived late.
It got a bit heated until they finally calmed down, if I remember correctly, after an intervention from Bas. I suspect the orange helmeted yellow & black lycra clad giant (he’s tall, as seen in the photo earlier in this post) made an impression!
The border kerfuffle seems to amuse Andy , Photo by Helen
I must say the officials at the Chinese border were actually pretty good and the whole process (once the office finally opened) was far less hassle than I expected. I thought they'd go through bags but apart from the usual run through the x-ray there was nothing.
Don't know what the porters who were transporting the kit bags experienced. It did seem odd that you didn’t have to accompany your luggage through a border, just had the bike & day pack.
Bizarre border art as we left Tibet, photo by braver than me Kirsten
Once across friendship bridge we had to re-enter Nepal and, thanks to the single China time zone, after that short walk we had to put the watch back 2 hours 15 minutes. Another contrast was immediately apparent. From the controlled organised, albeit illogical, cold authoritarian feeling of the Chinese border you stepped into chaotic unorganized friendly Nepal.
A last look at Tibet, over the Nepalese border gate (above) & Kodari main street (below)
Tourist Visa time, Sujan sorted the paperwork for those who needed it, Photo by Helen
While we waited for the formalities (visa paper work and our kit to come over the border) had a chance to watch some of the street life.
Another small cycle tour came through the border when we did. Didn’t seem very interested in talking beyond the usual acknowledgements as they passed. Think they were the grumpy looking lot we passed on the way back from Everest.
Took this photo of them and to remind me, never ever ever buy/wear white lycra leggings…
One thing I noticed as soon as we entered Nepal was branding, on vehicles and apparel, largely absent in Tibet. Lots of U.K. & European Football (soccer for Kiwis) team kit!
Old Corolla gets the Chelsea fan treatment, chrome wheels and big exhaust. Those accessories probably cost more than the car!
However, I suspect the bus which took our kit to the slip was probably not an official Facebook licensed one!
Six on to one does go, Photo by Helen
Quote of the morning:
“It’s just how it was 20 years ago!” – Bas remarking how Kodari, unlike Tibet, hadn’t changed since he last cycled through here.
- Zhangmu altitude 2190 meters
- Friendship bridge altitude 1717.5 meters
Post 21. Kodari to Kathmandu, Nepal