The road less travelled – Yak Bells

Despatch for 22/5/10 – I woke this morning to the soft tinkling of yak bells and a dull thudding at the back of my head. A couple of paracetamol sorted out the latter, and I was free to enjoy the perfect stillness of a Tibetan morning. I adore yaks. They’re big and gruff but have tiny little feet that allows them to walk anywhere. The herders decorate their coats with ribbons.
We’re not anywhere too remote yet, although it feels that way. The reminder we’re not yet on the road less travelled is the stunning upgrade to the road that leads from Zhangmu all the way  to Lhasa. When I first came here it was a dirt piste. Now it’s better than most roads at home in Sheffield. Luckily, a vehicle passes only every 20 minutes or so and none at night. It’s a bit surreal.
This morning, after days of travelling and organising, we were free to stand around and drink tea under a deep blue sky. It’s much colder at night than in Nepal, so I’m actually sleeping better, despite the altitude. Although I’m still at that phase where any sudden movements provoke a headache. We took the opportunity to sort through the food – some things had exploded with the pressure differential, including pots of honey – and figure out whether we’ve got enough. We also spent some time figuring out the route to the base of our mountain with Thinley.
Tomorrow we head north, to camp near some hot springs north of a town called Saga at around 4200m, and then we turn west, off-road for the next two to base camp. But for now I’m free to relax. I brought some rock shoes and there’s a huge boulder in our campsite, so I might even do some climbing. Ed Douglas.
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