If you’ve got a hankering for an old-school border crossing the Tibetan frontier at Kodari should do the trick. On the Nepali side it’s organised so that a large range of perpetually smiling middlemen can extract as many rupees as they can to ferry gear across the Friendship Bridge into Tibet. In theory a truck could do the job but that would be too easy. On the Tibetan side, the Chinese presence is much more authoritarian. Customs take a keen interest in our reading material in case it’s subversive. Then they discover our maps. The mood darkens. The way Tibet is drawn doesn’t meet with their approval and one map is confiscated, luckily the least important one.
We have our new Tibetan guide with us, Thinley, who is instantly like able and effective. He spent ten years living in India and has to tread carefully as a consequence, but we’re soon free to leave and we emerge from the border post more or less intact, apart from our nerves.The whole process has taken two hours.
Then we decant ourselves into a Land Cruiser for the short drive to Zangmu which, despite being quite small, has the worst traffic problem on earth, thanks to the trucks coming through more or less at random. We have chores to do, more permits and more food, but the restaurant we have lunch in organises the shopping and gets a discount for us. You don’t get that in Pizza Hut.
Now it’s the wild road to Nyalam, an hour away,up one of the most spectacular gorges on the planet, now thankfully in reasonable condition. So much has changed since I was last here. China builds things at a furious rate. But for now I’ll be pleased to take a day off for acclimatisation at 3800m before pushing deeper towards our objective.
Ed Douglas en route next update wild road to Nyalam (all being well)
The story so far:
The road less travelled – The Plan May 16th 2010
The road less travelled – Thamel May 18th 2010
The road less travelled – Patan May 19th 2010
The road less travelled – Kodari May20th 2010