The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Photos from the Shoebox: Overland From Kathmandu to Lhasa 1990

If you had a 35mm camera you probably have a shoebox full of pictures that you never got around to sorting and putting in an album. In this series “Photos from the Shoebox” I take them out of the closest and shine light on them once more.

Often the journey is as interesting as the destination. My best friend and I had been in Nepal for almost two months. We had done the obligatory mountain treks and explored the city and its surroundings to its extent. We started to get that feeling. You’ve probably felt it too, the feeling of itchy feet, the need to move. It was November in Kathmandu and winter would soon arrive.

Tibet

The Friendship Highway

“Why not journey into Tibet?,” we mused. We found a tour operator who had one last overland trip to Lhasa before snow made the highway impassable. Back then in the 1990’s you had to join an approved tour. There was no opportunity for lone, off the beaten path type of travel.

Tibet

Life along the highway

We spent days in line-ups getting our visas and cashing in some traveller’s cheques to join an eclectic group of geriatric Americans, mid-aged Brits, a pair of young Swedish female backpackers and a couple of mysterious lone travellers.

Tibet

The pass

The best place to sit in a bus? Front seats. From this point of vantage the windshield becomes your big screen TV. On one leg of the journey we drove for about seven hours over stark scenery that was beautifully barren and monochromatic.

Tibet

Curious nomad

What started out as a black dot on the horizon soon materialized into flesh and blood. A curious nomad left his herd to come and check us out. It was not often they came across foreigners.

Moonscape

The arid land looked like a moonscape

As hours and kilometres ticked by we had the luxury of immersing ourselves in personal reflection. It was the perfect condition for an introvert like myself.

Tibet

On the road again

Every Tibetan we came across greeted us with an excited exuberance, always laughing and asking for the same thing. They all wanted a picture of the Dalai Lama, forbidden by the Chinese.

Tibet children

Curious Tibetan children

The locals were peculiarly the same colour as the landscape – mottled shades of brown, blue and grey and often covered with dirt.

On the raod again

Life passes by

I can’t imagine living in this environment. It may be a simple life but it’s a harsh existence.

Tibet

Our bus took a beating

Our bus took a beating breaking two springs and putting up with a bunch of progressively cranky travellers confined inside its metal box.

Beautiful Yamdrok Lake

Beautiful Yamdrok Lake

On the fourth day the browns and greys gave way to a beautiful turquoise. We’ve made it to sacred Yamdrok Lake, one of Tibet’s three holy lakes.

Tibet

One last stop before Lhasa. Boiled eggs for lunch again.

Time always seems to pass slower as you get closer to your final destination. Patience is in short supply. Anxiousness takes its place. Finally, we reached Lhasa where a nice Holiday Inn greeted us with a hot shower, comfortable bed and decent food. After a long, tiring journey who doesn’t like a little pampering?

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9 thoughts on “Photos from the Shoebox: Overland From Kathmandu to Lhasa 1990

  1. Yes what an adventure. Love the expressions you captured on the children.

  2. This really is going ‘into the wild’, even though you were with a group. I’d love to have an experience like this!

    • Thanks Celia! It really was an experience especially the places we had to stay overnight. In one ‘in the middle of no where’ hotel we had to wait while someone came and opened it up for us. In the morning we ate boiled eggs in the dining room in zero degree temperature. It’s certainly something I’ll never forget.

  3. What a special adventure! Thank you so much for sharing. These are great photos from you shoebox.

  4. thanks for sharing your experience. Fantastic narration, I could really “feel” the journey 🙂

  5. Raw and untouched. Ruggedly beautiful!

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