We were able to get permits to go to Lhasa from Xi'an when the Tibetan monks in Lhasa were demonstrating. During the train ride (36 hrs), Lhasa erupted into a riot. When we arrived in Lhasa (8pm, Mar 15), we were rounded up and escorted to designated hotels on the outskirts of Lhasa and put on house arrest without access to internet or telephone. It was an uncomfortable time, but things cooled off and we were able to go outside. We saw the remains of the riot (burnt buildings/cars, etc..) but we were unable to take photos due to a strong military presence. China keeps a tight control over Tibet. After a couple of days, we managed to arrange transport out of Tibet toward Nepal.
On the train ride from Xi'an to Lhasa, Tauru was really excited. Beautiful scenery... the whole shabang.
24 hours into ride. Yeah, ...no, Tauru is sick of the train ride. 12 more hours???!! ^%$#@%*
We made it into Lhasa, but were put on house arrest at a hotel. From the window, we could see military presence. (For info on the Tibetan riot, Google something like: "Tibet Riot, March 14, 2008")
We managed to go out and snap a photo of the Potala Palace -- the holy seat of Tibet.
The hotel owner was Tibetan (pictured here in the middle) who, at first, was so nervous with us. He had never had foreign guests at his hotel due to Chinese policy. But after a couple of days, we all had a good bond. Stuck with us were Hana (Japan) and Nina (Germany).
Here we are having dinner in our hotel room (because we weren't allowed outside). But great company really does dampen the uneasiness of what was going on. We weren't concerned with the Tibetans -- they like foreigners because foreigners are the only ones who'd hear their struggle against Chinese policy of Tibet.
Eventually, Nina decided to take the train back into China; whereas, Hana, Christi, and Tauru would try to push through out of Tibet and into Nepal. After four days of great friendship, Nina bids Christi a farewell...
We then managed to arrange transport out -- Lhasa to Zhangmu, the Chinese border town with Nepal. Here are some images, then video...
The road that winds down (on left).
The last pass at 5200m (just alittle over 17,000 ft) with the Himalayas in the background... and beyond that, Nepal. We're at 5200m, so the peaks are 7000m to 8000m peaks. That's like 24,000 ft - 27,000 ft!
The affects of altitude. Left is a cookie packet at just over 17,000 ft (air pressure inside when it was packaged somewhere down in China was greater than air pressure at this altitude). Right is when we were in Zhangmu at some 5,000 ft.
Video: 5200m (just over 17,000 ft) pass with Himalayas in the background. Then Zhangu... heading for Nepal.
We finally made it to Zhangmu! 17 hrs of traveling by vehicle, but worth it! Here we are with Zhangmu behind us. We've just checked out of China and are walking in no-man's land to the border of Nepal some 8 km away. Oh yeah, we are happy! Woo-hoo.
Christi strolling in no-man's land down to Nepal. Hana is behind her. She was also heading to Kathmandu.
Another photo. We were so happy to be going down to Nepal... but one more with Zhangmu in the background. Christi and Hana. Along the way down to Kodari (Nepal's border town), people were saying "hello" to us and responded with "Hello", "Ni hao" (Chinese), "Namaste" (Nepali), and/or "Tashi Deleg" (Tibetan). A whole slew of different folks... but all friendly with the international smile.
There it is! Kodari! Woo-hoo. The bridge separates China and Nepal. After crossing the bridge and checking into Nepal, we took a shared taxi to Kathmandu and celebrated.