Tibet

This item appears on page 58 of the March 2011 issue.
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To journey to Lhasa and continue on to Everest Base Camp to see the mighty Himalayan massif up close was a longtime dream of ours. For my husband, Larry, and me, this dream came true with our terrific guide in Tibet, Samdup Gyal (“Sam”), and our excellent, safe driver, Choeden.

We traveled to Tibet, May 12-23, 2010, with arrangements made by Third Eye Travel (Fremont, CA; 800/456-3393); the local company was Tibet YongDru Adventure.

Our 19-day trip, which included an extension in mainland China (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Suzhou) and four internal flights, cost $10,000 for the two of us, with air from Los Angeles. Our driving portion covered 1,200 kilometers, most of that on paved road from Shanghai to Kathmandu.*

We cannot say enough good things about Sam and Choeden. Sam was always punctual, unflappable in the face of the complex permit/checkpoint procedures and a great source of knowledge about the fascinating people and places in Tibet.

He recommended great places to eat in Lhasa and also suggested we walk to the park across from the Potala Palace at dusk. The sight of this vast edifice, perfectly illuminated against an indigo velvet sky, is one we will never forget.

Although we think of ourselves as young at heart and are generally fit, we are definitely senior citizens, so we were relieved to find ourselves in such capable hands. Our successful eight-kilometer hike from the Everest Base Camp guest house to the 5,200-meter marker (the highest you can go without an “expedition permit”) and back owes much to Sam’s efforts and patient encouragement.

We were struck by the grandeur of Tibet’s temples and monasteries and the gigantic scale and lonely beauty of its desolate, high-altitude landscape. The weather in May was clear, with daytime highs in the 60s. (Nights at Base Camp were below freezing, with abundant frost on the tents.)

In Gyangtse we saw the very interesting temple complex with an immense, multistory chorten (chapel), containing over 108 closet-sized chambers with statues of various Tibetan Buddhist figures. It is reached by climbing steep internal staircases. From the top level, there were panoramic views of the town, the monastery grounds, an enclosing wall and an adjacent hilltop fort.

We enjoyed our stay at the Gyangtse Hotel with its beautifully decorated breakfast room.

We returned to Lhasa via the brilliant turquoise blue waters of Yamdrok Tso lake — a jarring contrast to its desolate, rocky surroundings. No wonder the Tibetans regard the lake as holy.

SUSAN TITTLE
Palos Verdes Estates, CA

*CLARIFICATION [Published May '11, pg. 56] — Regarding my trip report on Tibet (March ’11, pg. 58), I just wanted to clarify that our 1,200-kilometer road trip along the Shanghai-Kathmandu highway was only from Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp junction. The entire highway is far longer. In fact, en route to the EBC junction, we passed a “5,000-kilometer midpoint” road marker.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

To journey to Lhasa and continue on to Everest Base Camp to see the mighty Himalayan massif up close was a longtime dream of ours. For my husband, Larry, and me, this dream came true with our terrific guide in Tibet, Samdup Gyal (“Sam”), and our excellent, safe driver, Choeden.

We traveled to Tibet, May 12-23, 2010, with arrangements made by Third Eye Travel (Fremont, CA; 800/456-3393); the local company was Tibet YongDru Adventure.

Our 19-day trip, which included an extension in mainland China (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Suzhou) and four internal flights, cost $10,000 for the two of us, with air from Los Angeles. Our driving portion covered 1,200 kilometers, most of that on paved road from Shanghai to Kathmandu.*

We cannot say enough good things about Sam and Choeden. Sam was always punctual, unflappable in the face of the complex permit/checkpoint procedures and a great source of knowledge about the fascinating people and places in Tibet.

He recommended great places to eat in Lhasa and also suggested we walk to the park across from the Potala Palace at dusk. The sight of this vast edifice, perfectly illuminated against an indigo velvet sky, is one we will never forget.

Although we think of ourselves as young at heart and are generally fit, we are definitely senior citizens, so we were relieved to find ourselves in such capable hands. Our successful eight-kilometer hike from the Everest Base Camp guest house to the 5,200-meter marker (the highest you can go without an “expedition permit”) and back owes much to Sam’s efforts and patient encouragement.

We were struck by the grandeur of Tibet’s temples and monasteries and the gigantic scale and lonely beauty of its desolate, high-altitude landscape. The weather in May was clear, with daytime highs in the 60s. (Nights at Base Camp were below freezing, with abundant frost on the tents.)

In Gyangtse we saw the very interesting temple complex with an immense, multistory chorten (chapel), containing over 108 closet-sized chambers with statues of various Tibetan Buddhist figures. It is reached by climbing steep internal staircases. From the top level, there were panoramic views of the town, the monastery grounds, an enclosing wall and an adjacent hilltop fort.

We enjoyed our stay at the Gyangtse Hotel with its beautifully decorated breakfast room.

We returned to Lhasa via the brilliant turquoise blue waters of Yamdrok Tso lake — a jarring contrast to its desolate, rocky surroundings. No wonder the Tibetans regard the lake as holy.

SUSAN TITTLE
Palos Verdes Estates, CA

*CLARIFICATION [Published May '11, pg. 56] — Regarding my trip report on Tibet (March ’11, pg. 58), I just wanted to clarify that our 1,200-kilometer road trip along the Shanghai-Kathmandu highway was only from Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp junction. The entire highway is far longer. In fact, en route to the EBC junction, we passed a “5,000-kilometer midpoint” road marker.