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vbx000 Nam Tso - A travel report by Veronica
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Nam Tso,  China - flag China -  Tibet
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vbx000's travel reports

The Roof of the World- Nam-Tso Lake

  18 votes
Page: 1 2
I can't let my week in Tibet go, even after over a month it is still so vivid in my mind. In the west, we've been critsized of over-romantisizing this land... but I don't think thats possible. We went for the Chinese National Holiday on October 1st-7th.

Highest Point We Reached
Highest Point We Reached
Our last adventure in Tibet was to Nam-Tso lake. This is the highest lake in the world at 16,000 feet above sea level. It was about a 4.5 hour driver from Lhasa, in a private jeep. We bundled up in our warmest clothes and a ton of layers in preparation for this journey. The weather during our stay was brisk, very much like fall weather but we were promised a glimpse of Tibetan winter at Nam-Tso. We went higher than 16,000ft jsut before we reached the lake, it was the highest point in the reserve and then we drove back down into the valley. At this point we stepped out of the jeep and lasted about 10 minutes before rushing back in- attacked by fierce wind. We clicked some pictures and retreated back to the warmth of the car.

Favourite spots:
Life at Namtso
Life at Namtso
Nam-Tso Lake was beautiful. We were IN the clouds, or at least thats what it looked like. They loomed over us promising a little snow. The water was a crisp blue color, the mountains a dark leery grey touching the snowy white clouds. Decorating the area, just as througout all of Tibet, were the bright colored prayer flags. Prayer flags should be synonmous with Tibet because that is the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think back on it. Everywhere we visited was decorated with prayer flags; greeting us, encouraging us, teasing us and for some reason evoking mystical emotions.

What's really great:
Drowning Prayers
Drowning Prayers
This was a favorite place for tourists because all across the rocky land was men with horses dresed in colorful Tibetan reds, blues, greens and yellows. Both horses and men looked rugged and weather worn. Also, there were a number of men with yaks dressed similairly to the horses if you wanted to try your luck with one of the massive dreadlock like cow beasts. Our original plan was to hike/explore that afternoon and ride around the mountain the next morning, but Veronica sucks big time at hydrating herself and ended our Nam-Tso journey early.

Walking Away
Walking Away
I laid in bed for what seemed like eternity wishing that my headache would subside. It never did and in fact only grew worse. I was sort of in and out of reality except for what felt like a while after the other three companions left to drink some Lhasa beer when I had this overwhelming craving for water. I've never craved water as much in my entire life as I did at that moment. So, I crawled from bed and guzzled half a bottle. But, the water was ice cold and it hit my stomach like a ton of bricks.

I laid back down and realized that I was a little bit sicker than I originally imagined. One of our companions was a wilderness EMT, and he had read us the signs & symptoms of acute mountain sickness. The most serious of them is violent/uncontrollable vomitting, this is an indication of your brain beginning to swell. We all feared this symptom.

Man & Horse
Man & Horse
We were supposed to stay in this blue tent like creations. Outside they looked like a tarp colored tent but inside was four twin size beds, four dressers and a wash basin with hot water thermos.

Unfortunately, the temperature outside was the same temperature as inside this cabin/tent like contraption. It was a pretty bitter cold day, and the temperature was dropping quickly because it was going to snow.

Or, maybe it wasn't bitter cold but I was in the midst of acute mountain sickness so I might have been a little hyper-sensitive.

Colors of Tibet
Colors of Tibet
We split up for most of the hiking, each one of us wanting to take our own shots and explore our own piece of Nam-Tso. My head started pounding furiously so I perched myself on a rock on the edge of the lake and just engrossed myself in the natural beauty of the place.

Eventually I decided to go back to our dwellings to rest because every time we ascended an altitude a nap seemed to do the trick for acclimation. I was drinking water, but not nearly enough. I'm not a good water drinker and my body had been a trooper dealing with my constant state of dehydration (due to a liquid diet of primarily coffee and green tea plus yak meat haha) up until this point- 16,000 ft was just too much.

Tibetan Nomad (I have that same hat!)
Tibetan Nomad (I have that same hat!)
Pre- Veronica's Death as we call it now, we had a lot of fun romping around Nam-Tso. We didn't ride but posed pretty on a cute little buckskin horse. Mostly, we took a lot of pictures, thought ourselves quite witty for a few poses such as the monk debating imitation, the classic walk away shot, and my photographic infatuation with the yaks.

The bathroom facilities were pretty much non-existant unless you wanted to hike a ways to a decently clean bathroom. I did that once, walking past a pack of semi-ferral dogs and a lone Tibetan tent. On my way out a rugged looking Tibetan man appeared and told me I had to pay. I showed him I had no money, emptied my pockets and he smiled and puckered his lips as if I would actually kiss him in exchange for relieving myself.

I laughed and walked away. I tried approaching the semi-feral dogs but they weren't too interested.

Om mani padme hung  - the most powerful words a human can utter
Om mani padme hung - the most powerful words a human can utter
There was only one place to eat- another larger tent like contraption. They had a large menu but said mei-you (do not have) to just about everything we pointed to. I demanded yak meat, they promised yak meat but in the end I was served pork. I wasn't happy that I was eating mere pork at the top of the world. I wanted yak damnit.

It was a tasty meal, a little expensive because they clearly had a monopoly and I was a little sore about the pork but it was okay in the end.

Here I will give the drink lots of water lecture I received after my AMS experience. I didn't think the whole altitude thing was a big deal until I was wracked with head pain and nausea. If you are a heavy caffiene drinker like me, maybe start rehydrating your body a week or so before you go to Tibet. I drank 'lots' of water (for me) but my body couldn't catch up. Too little, too late.

Other recommendations:
Yak & Horse
Yak & Horse
I got up to retrieve our EMT companion when I was overcome with waves of yes, you guessed it, the worst symptom (well, not worst since that is death). I then stumbled into the eating tent, they cheered my name WEI NI! and then actually looked at me. I just said I think I'm really sick and my brain is swelling. The EMT rushed to my side, Jing Jing went to get our driver and guide, and Conor paid the bill. They gave me oxygen, more water, and made me rest but after a half hour I was violently experiencing the feared symptom and they decided I had to be evacuated. I clearly wasn't acclimating.

By this point it was snowing and the snow was increasing to a snow storm. It took us about 6 hours to get back to Lhasa due to the snow, which turned to a ice storm, than a rain storm once in Lhasa. I was in and out of conciousness the entire ride and very weak the next day and a half.

Best advice- pay extra for private jeep. We wouldn't have made it off Nam-Tso in a tour bus in that weather

Published on Tuesday November 15th, 2005

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Fri, Nov 18 2005 - 02:10 PM rating by magsalex

Another well written report..look forward to the next instalment.

Wed, Nov 16 2005 - 01:13 AM rating by toribio


Tue, Nov 15 2005 - 11:36 PM rating by eirekay

Thanks for another great report ~ too bad about the altitude sickness!

Tue, Nov 15 2005 - 03:32 PM rating by nedkelly report Veronica..... keep up the good work.

Tue, Nov 15 2005 - 11:26 AM rating by rangutan

Exciting and a bit scarey too. Well written.

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