1 WHAT IS TIBET LIKE?
My Journey from Lhasa to Mount Everest Base camp with Adventure International Trekking. I recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Tibet. a region filled with mountains beautiful monasteries and some of the kindest people that I have ever met and yet it is also one of the most difficult places in the world to go to especially for a foreigner obtaining a permit to visit Tibet is not easy. Foreigners must also be accompanied by guides at all times. Adventure International organized a trip to Tibet for 14 of us so I traveled to Tibet with a group of foreigners and we actually divided that group into two separate groups one that would travel along a high-altitude route and one that would travel along with a low-altitude route both routes were a pretty high altitude compared to normal you know normal situations and pretty much everybody got altitudes sickness at one point or another being a part of the high-altitude route my group went all the way to Mount Everest base camp. we are here for about a week exploring the beautiful countryside it's a place that not a lot of people go to so I thought I will write a blog just talking about our journey. Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region and lies at an altitude of 11,000 450 feet which is approximately 3500 meters, this makes it one of the highest cities in the world. The city is home to many important Tibetan Buddhist sites. one of these is the Potala Palace. Right now I am here at the Potala Palace in Lhasa just looking at how beautiful this palace is. The Potala Palace was the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 today the Potala Palace is a museum and a World Heritage Site. I just couldn't get enough of the Potala Palace even standing right in front of it I felt like I was looking at a painting it was just so magical and impressive. So over the course of three hundred and seventeen years, ten Dalai lama's actually lived in the Potala palace fun fact, no building in Lhasa is allowed to be taller than the patrolling Palace. Another fun fact, is there are actually eight tombs inside the Potala Palace from Dali lama's unfortunately though you're not allowed to take pictures or videos inside of the palace. Another important place we visited was the Jokhang temple which is located in the bark or square Tibetans generally consider this the most sacred temple in Tibet and today it is 2 a UNESCO world heritage site as an extension of the Potala Palace. Since Lhasa eyes at such a high elevation, almost all of us felt a little dizzy during the first day in fact one of our friends ended up in the hospital on the first night in Lhasa with severe altitude sickness but an IV and some oxygen got him back on his feet in about a day and he was still able to continue along with us on the high altitude route. whether or not that was a good idea we'll find out later. We departed Lhasa after spending two days and one full night there which is honestly in my opinion way too soon because we hadn't fully acclimated to the altitude yet but on we went. My group was assigned a Tibetan tour guide and a Chinese driver and we drove eastward through the Tibetan countryside looking out the window, you can just see the beauty everywhere, the river is flowing through the countryside with majestic mountains behind them, goats, yak and other domestic animals roaming the land, nature's so pure and untouched it makes you wish you could just jump out of the van and soak it all in but there was a lot of driving ahead of us and the majority of what we saw we saw through the van windows. Our destination for the first night was a city called Shigatse which is the second-largest city in the Tibet Autonomous Region on the way we made a few memorable stops. Our first stop was at a viewpoint from which you observe much of the Tibetan countryside at this stop there were plenty of vendors who had yak Tibetan Mastiffs and tiny little goats on display to take pictures with at a cost, of course. Our second stop was at a crystal-clear turquoise lake called yamdrok lake no pictures can do this Lake justice, it totally blew me away and was definitely one of the highlights of this road trip. While down at the lake I gave in to the temptation to get a picture of myself sitting on a yak with the lake in the background taking a picture on a yak here costs on average about 2000NRS which is the equivalent of about 3 US Dollars. Yak is one of the main sources of food in Tibet, Tibetans eat yak meat and produce yak butter cheese milk, and yogurt yak Tibetans are basically what cows are Americans they use them for most of their food products. supposedly eating yak also helps with altitude sickness but being a vegetarian I myself did not try this if you're visiting Tibet just be aware that yak is going to be pretty much on every menu. Our third stop was at a little hiking trail that led to a beautiful glacier now this 30-minute hike would have been a piece of cake at a lower altitude but at approximately 17,000 feet or 5,000 meters, it took a huge toll on me. I overestimated how fast I could go and by the time I reached the glacier, I was feeling extremely lightheaded nauseous, and dizzy. I felt so out of it that I barely took any photos up there at least compared to the photos I normally take because it was just so much effort to stay upright and just not fall over, back in the van, I developed the worst migraine of my entire life I felt as though my head was going to explode and I spent the rest of the day hiding my head under different objects so that I wouldn't come into contact with the light and I was trying not to get sick in the van so yeah, I spent the rest of that ride just hiding. unsurprisingly I don't have any video footage from the rest of that day simply because I had a 3 pillow on my face most of the time after spending a night in Shiga say and acclimating we prepared for another long drive to Mount Everest Base camp with breaks the drive was going to take us about eight hours or so however there was just one problem, a girl in our group fell sick with food poisoning so what we ended up doing is taking her to the hospital to accelerate her recovery although we had planned to leave early in the morning this definitely delayed us and we didn't leave until about midday which also meant that we were going to make fewer stops than we had initially planned for we did, however, make a few stops at some interesting lookout points but they were short and the drive was quite brutal. As we approached Mount Everest. Our excitement grew and grew. How many people get to see Mount Everest with their own eyes. I mean it's more now than it used to be but still, it felt really special. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, the elevation is 29,000 feet or eight thousand eight hundred meters above sea level. Climbing Mount Everest, however, is no easy feat more than 300 people have died while making the climb and in 2017 eight people have already died during the climb. at least at the time that I'm writing this blog. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to climb Mount Everest - We arrived at Mount Everest base camp right before sunset our guide brought us to the tent where we would be sleeping all of us were worried about sleeping in a tent in freezing cold temperatures but it was actually not as bad as I expected the tent was owned by a Tibetan family and it was huge it could fit up to 12 people and it was quite warm when the stove was on. The family also provided thick green coats that we could wear if our own clothes weren't warm enough. I definitely took one, I didn't care how silly it would make me look. After putting on a thick green jacket we followed our guide outside to walk to the Rongbuk monastery, This is the highest elevation monastery in the world at approximately sixteen thousand three hundred feet or five thousand meters. Walking up the little hill that overlooks the monastery was only about 200 feet but at this elevation doing this was a struggle. I could feel myself getting dizzy again and I walked at a snail's pace to try not to get sick. As you guys might or might not know there are two ways to climb Mount Everest you can access it from the Tibetan side or from the Nepal side. The Tibetan side is a little easier to climb than the Nepal side but it is also more expensive and a little bit harder to get to, however, I am not climbing Mount Everest don't worry I'm that fit. Now we are at Everest base camp graced by the great Roman Lama what's that is Everest in the local dialect. Yes, we are standing on the roof of the wall to hide it full of 5,000 50-meter and then the left of my side is a beautiful 8th-century monastery called Rongbuk monastery on the right. Our guide has taken incredible care of us they prepped an incredible tent for us to sleep in tonight. This is a luxury tent if I've ever seen one and our guide just told us all everything we need to know along the way. We've had two hospitalizations to get here, every obstacle you could imagine. We came up way too fast so if anybody's thinking about doing this we recommend you prep a little bit take a few days in Lhasa to get used to the elevation and then start to come up but we did it in about two days which was the breakneck speed. We all have headaches but our guide here is keeping us well in stock with lemon, and ginger tea, which is helping us all out quite a bit and I'm just going to stop writing 4 and forget all the struggles and enjoy the view a little bit because it is absolutely incredible. I really wanted to film a video here but to be honest, it's hard to talk while you walk. but I wanted to give you an idea of this beautiful place through this blog. Sun just set it is getting really really cold really fast and I have the worst headache probably of my life I felt the altitude sickness coming on once again. After taking a few pictures I sat down and meditated hoping I could prevent the onset of altitudes sickness while it seemed to help at the moment the effects were short-lived. while walking back to the tent I felt sicker and sicker and soon I felt like I could barely move I had another severe migraine extreme nausea and doing anything just took much effort although I ordered food I had no appetite to eat it and at this point, it was only going to get worse so my guide made the decision to hook me up to the oxygen tank which was something he didn't want to do unless somebody really hit a severe level of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is no joke and if I could change anything about this trip it's that I would spend more time acclimating in Lhasa before heading to a higher altitude. Mount Everest was the ultimate destination and the next two days were primarily spent on the road heading back to Lhasa with just a few stops along the way when we arrived back in Lhasa we felt strong and energetic at that 12,000-foot altitude it felt like nothing compared to where we had just been before heading back to our hotel we made an afternoon stop at sera monastery which is particularly famous for its debate sessions debates among monks are integral to the learning process in the colleges of the sera monastery complex. visitors can witness the debates every day in the debating courtyard but for some weird reason you are only allowed to take photos with your phone and not with an actual camera don't ask me why? before going to Tibet I had read that it was a very spiritual place but I didn't quite realize the extent of it every Tibetan I met was highly spiritual and by highly spiritual I mean meditating every day saying mantras under their breath and practicing kindness and compassion wherever they could. I think we could all learn a little bit from the Tibetan people we can learn to slow down to practice compassion and practice just living in the moment now. I just want to add a little bit of a disclaimer to this blog the Tibet Autonomous Region is controlled by China and foreigners do not have the freedom to travel around this area on their own so everything that I experienced and saw was everything that foreigners are allowed to see I know there is so much more to Tibet that I have no way of seeing but I truly hope that one day there will be more freedom in Tibet that will allow us to see different parts of it. I wanted to create this video both as a memory for myself and because there seems to be a lack of information coming out of Tibet lately, I do hope that more of the world will be able to see the magic and beauty that finds itself in Tibetan culture my journey was one that I will never forget and not just because of the altitude sickness but also because of literally everything I saw. The best view you witness after the hardest climb is worth experiencing. Anisha Bhandari Travel Blogger