Literally "On top of the world" lies the high plateau of Tibet. Completely isolated for centuries, it has attracted explorers thousands of years ago.
What has changed little is the vast landscape that is constantly accompanying you when travelling in Tibet. What did change is the cultural and spiritual life of Tibetans. Their freedom is gone.
Its neighbours felt the same attraction for Tibet, though for different reasons. Relations with China were rarely stable, and in 1950 China invaded Tibet. Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans were killed, tortured and thrown in prison. Atrocities are not a thing of the past, though methods have become subtler these days. Migration makes Tibetans a minority in their own country, control of military and police is very tight and intrudes in many aspects of everyday life. Freedoms we take for granted lead to arrest, prison and torture.
A tourists with open eyes can see and feel what is going on in Tibet. Economic "development", state control and in some places poverty clash with the fantastic landscape and its good-natured people. I find travelling in Tibet tough, not because of its harsh climate or altitude, but because of the contrasts one encounters.
Lhasa to Kathmandu
The most common way of travelling in Tibet is to join a group in Kathmandu, then fly to Lhasa in Central Tibet. After some days exploring the old capital we board a bus and drive back the 1'000 km to Kathmandu. We pass turquoise lakes, high passes and follow the Himalayan chain westwards until a steep drop takes us to the rice fields of Nepal. See travelogue with Pictures.
Countless lakes in blue, green and turquoise appear as colourful dots on the barren plateau. We visit Namtso, a day's drive north of Lhasa. At the shores of the "sky lake" rises the Nyechenthangla range, culminating in the 7117 m high summit. From here we visit Everest base camp at Rongbuk, and drive back to Kathmandu. See travelogue with Pictures.
|(c) 2007, Carsten Nebel|