Sunset on Shishapangma from Base Camp
We made it
into China! Dave and I are sitting here in an Internet Cafe in Chengdu. It is
pretty hot, overcast and humid here, and it 1 has a similar "tropical" smell
as Lima, but not nearly as full of diesel fumes. We have been traveling for
something like 34 hours.
a huge city, 2 million population, with 11 million in the surrounding area. We
are staying in a very nice downtown hotel. No problems with flights at all,
and the tour operators (Mr. Fuching and Maggie) were right at the airport to
meet us. Hats off to David Christopher for the great arrangements.
of five or six hours in the Seoul airport was interesting. It is an
architectural beauty, absolutely immaculate, gleaming steel and glass, a nice
place to hang out. I actually had an excellent mocha there, and changed US$5
and got 4,800 Wan (the Korean currency).
to China, I declared the Iridium satellite phone that we borrowed from Mike
Ferris as "communications equipment", and expecting trouble, approached the
customs desk with trepidation. There was nobody at the "Items to Declare"
station, so another clerk took me. I pointed to the X in "Yes", but she waved
at the paper, crossed it off and checked "N", and waved me through. Nice to
know bureaucracies are the same all over the world.
writing this at 3:00 p.m. Chendu time, which I think is about 14 hours ahead
of the midwest U.S. Tomorrow morning we fly to Lhasa at 10:30 a.m. We spent a
comical time in a pharmacy with probably 30 young Chinese girls in bright
green nurse's uniforms trying to help Monty find some medicine. Eventually
most of them drifted away to other patrons, but we received many amused looks.
The pharmacy also sells mysterious dried herbs, fish parts, various what look
like grey mushrooms, and other things of suspicious nature.
should be in Lhasa, Tibet, and hook up with Val. Then the expedition really
begins. I have been reading my Lonely Planet guide, and am really looking
forward to visiting the Jokhang, a sacred Tibet Buddhist pilgrimage circuit in
Lhasa, and exploring Lhasa. I have to do this before the climb, because I
won't be back to Lhasa. If things go according to plan, I will be riding a
truck out from base camp to the Nepali border with Pratep (our Nepali cook),
and will meet my father in Kathmandu for a couple of days of sightseeing, then
to Bangkok for a day. We will see if that comes to pass.
I spent the
long long flights reading about the Dalai Lama's travels. The book was written
by a Chinese friend who is very close to him, and a frequent travel companion.
This book is illegal in China, so I wanted to get through it before arriving.
We were going to bring some pictures of him to distribute, but those too are
illegal, and we were afraid of getting the Tibetans in trouble, as well as
ourselves thrown out of the country. The visit to Lhasa should be amazing.
We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
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