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Wojciech's Travel log

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You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...

Log entries 41 - 50 of 2064 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

May 12, 2018 12:00 AM The highest railway....

The highest railway.... I spent fantastic day in the train enjoiing the views of Tibetan plateau...
After two controls in the new-built Lhasa railway stationI boarded the soft sleeper car. This is the highest category on China Rail. But I must tell you it is disappointing... Except the big, panoramic windows I was not impressed. They do not offer any soap or towel. Bring your own toilet paper. There is one European toilet in the car but for some stupid reason they are closing it on every station. Yes - there is an individual screen for every berth, but they do not offer ANY program. There is a hot water distibutor in each car but the offered water is only warm, so your tea or coffee has no full value... The conductor is rather rude and does not speak any English. They do not give ANY announcements through the loudspeakers and any form of the timetable is available so print one for you in advance...
Well, for me it is just the part of the adventure, but let you know in advance what to expect.
But yes, I spent a great day going through the Roof of the World, enjoing sunny wearher and the landscapes of the snowy mountains, pastures with thousands of yaks, remote settlements. It was 3.40 pm when we passed little and completely deserted Tanggula station - the highest Railway Station in the world on the level 5068 m. Why they do not stop here or just slow down for the pictures? Chinese are not proud of their record?
Then we started the slow descend, but still riding on the level 4500 - 4600 m - till the evening. I saw many wild donkeys an Tibetan antelopes... And the long chain of lorries climbing up the parallel road G109 to Tibet...
In the late morning our thrain reached big city of Lanzhou in Guansu province. Different world!!!

May 11, 2018 12:00 AM Last night in Lhasa

Last night in Lhasa Yesterday I had a chance to visit again famous Potala. It is more like a castle than a palace. Do not expect any bright luxury of the palace inside. They charge already 200 yuans for the entry and there are two security controls on the way... Do not bring the water. Passport is necessary. Be prepared for long climb 13 floors up...
Nowadays Potala is brightly illuminated after dark - mabbe the view is even nicer than during the day! - see my picture...This was my last night in Lhasa. Cold morning, no hot water in the hotel.
Today I am boarding the highest railway of the world - going down to Lanzhou - it willbe 25 hours journey. Let's go to the station!

May 10, 2018 12:00 AM Lamas, monks, monasteries...

Lamas, monks, monasteries... I am in Lhasa - the capital of Tibet. I had a chance to visit two significant monasteries built centuries ago on the outskirts of Lhasa. The first was Deprung, the biggest Tibetan monastery once housing 10000 monks, now only 480. It was nice to climb up to the temples, to crawl the labirynth of corridors and courts... The statues of lamas create very special atmosphere in the dark halls. Monks in the red clothes are very friendly... In the second monastery Sera I had opportunity to see the debate of the young monks - very funny from our point of view... In the afternoon I was walking the narrow streets of Bakhor Bazaar with many little shops selling yak butter and cheese, barley for the porridge and other traditional products. The bazaar is surrounding famous Jokhang temple... Strong presence of the police. But at the same time it is great theatre - thousands people are going around the temple with prayer wheels. Exotic faces, smiles, voices...

May 09, 2018 12:00 AM In Lhasa again - after 31 years!

In Lhasa again - after 31 years! Here I am again - after 31 years... Snowlands hotel - the paradise of the backpackers does not exists. Kirey Guest House wre I was staying is beeing upgraded to the hotel... Traffic jams, smog in the streets. Yesterday on arrival police checked our passports and Tibet permits on the outskirts of the city. Then I saw saw the new quarters of multi-storey blocks, industrial areas and finally - Potala Palace on the hill. Lhasa lies on the level 3600 m above sea and still is the traditional political and spiritual centre of the Tibetan world... But it is definitely not the same city like 31 years ago... Today I will see more, the sky is blue and it will be nice day... Lhasa is divided into two parts: old, Tibetan quarter and the new - Chinese. Thank God I stay in the old one, around the holliest Jokhang temple.
Streets are crowded. You can use bike rickshaw to move around - they charge from locals 10 yuans per ride, but foreigners are asked to pay more :)

May 08, 2018 12:00 AM A long way to Lhasa...

A long way to Lhasa... It is not easy to deal with the local town names. Usually each of the places has Chinese name and different Tibetan name and each of those has different translation to English so it is already four different names for the same place. Very hard....
In Linzhi on the highway G318 where we spent the night they have cypress garden with the tree which is 50 m high and 3200 years old (they say) We went there but the garden was closed for reconstruction.
Bad luck!
At 9 am we departed Linzhi by G318, but soon we were driving on the empty, elegant freeway. Wow! Just at the beginning of this year they opened new-built freeway from Linzhi to Lhasa. Only the tunnel under Mila Pass is not ready yet. The freeway - first in the Tibet (if you do not count Lhasa to airport road) goes all over the way along 318 epic highway, which is still fully open and used by bikers and trucks...
Is it good news? Yes - for the drivers, but not for the tourists because the visibility foem the car is limited by the freeway fences!
Okay, before climbing to the pass we turned righr. After 36 kms on the third-class road we reached Basumtso mountain lake. Very nice, 18- kms long with a Tibetan Monastery on the small lake island. Worth th see, but they charge from seniors 110 yuans for enthe and the shuttle bus who will drive you in and out.
Then we returned to the main road and started climb to Mila Pass 5013 m above the sea. Before the pass we changed to G 318. Wow! Full sun, huge snow fields and glaciers around, great views! The is the highest point on our route... In the evening Lhasa was on the horizon.

May 07, 2018 12:00 AM 4012 kilometers west from Shanghai

4012 kilometers west from Shanghai Chinese National Highway G318 goes all over the China from Shanghai to the border of Nepal close to Mt Everest. Roads are limited in this corner of Tibet. Dreaming about crossing East Tibet I came to the conclusion that this will be my route. Yesterday I reached km 3879 and this was the easternmost point where foreigners are alloved to go from the Tibet side. The segment from this point to the official border with Sichuan province is closed for us.
I spent a night in Bomi, on kilometer 4012.
Wonderful snowy mountains greeted me at the sunrise. Today we will start to drive again 318 road toward Lhasa. Do not think thet 318 is a comfortable, wide freeway. On this segment it is regular, two-lane road with many bumps, exposed to the landslides (here it goes through the high mountains) and stones falling down... Black pigs and yaks are wondering around on the road and do not care about car horns. But the landscapes are extremely beautiful... This will be another day in the deep canyons of the white water rivers. The weather seems to be nice!

May 06, 2018 12:00 AM To the glaciers and mountain lakes...

To the glaciers and mountain lakes... Eastern Tibet surprised me with its lush green, rapid rivers and deep canyons... It is completely different landscape then tn the north and west of Tibetan Plateau. Yesterday we were again on the level of the snows passind the Sekim La pass on the level almost 4600 m.
Then is was pleasant descent to Bami village where snowy peaks are around.. We slept here on the level almost 2400 m - much better sleep...
Today we will follow G318 highway (narrow and not in the best shape on this stage) to the Rawok Lake and the glacier. It should be wonderful day if the weather will be clear!
Later in the evening: we were lucky to have a sunny day, returning at 6 pm - tired but happy. The lake was nice, turquoise, with a lot of huge Christmas trees around :)
We visited also two glaciers. They require a hike to get closer. Not a long hike, but it is different hiking if you climb on the level of 4000 m above the sea. See Midui glacier on the picture...
Great day

May 05, 2018 12:00 AM Flying over the forbidden zone

Flying over the forbidden zone I was dreaming during last night about snowy mountains. Our yesterday's passage through Four Girls Mountain during the sunny weather was very impressive. But this was very short night! 4 am wake up call. At 5.20 we were already in the airport where, before boarding small plane our Tibet Permit was checked twice. Then the 1,5 hour flight over the clouds. Great views and a lot of turbulence... Very difficult approach to the runway - just over the snowy mountains. Airport is surprisingly elegant. The car with local guide was waiting for us to drive us to the town of Bayi. Here, at the police station our permits must be registered and stamped. No other way... We are waiting already two hours... We have still to drive today around 300 kms east to the Bomi township.

May 04, 2018 12:00 AM High mountains, deep gorges...

High mountains, deep gorges... On approach to Tagong you will see many painted stones with "Om mni padme hum" inscription in Tibetan. Also thousands of prayer flags - sometimes they put them high on the mountains. Tagong itself is a little, picturesque town filled with Tibetan-style architecture. Some 50 percent of the people wear national costumes...
The monastery is right at the main street with nice gate, great court and two temples. Pilgrims are coming to pray here, very few tourists - this creates great atmosphere. From Tagong we were driving down to the canyon of unnamed mountain river with the great view of sowy Mt. Yala.
The tiny road was destroyed by the river in many places. Fortunately the traffic is little. Then fromDanba we were climbing 6 kms to the picturesque Jiaju Tibetan village located on the high slope. All houses are in Tibetan style here so you feel like in the skansenn, but the village is alive - locals are working on the miniature potato fields and in vegetable gardens selling nuts and cherries on the roadside. Very nice people, but zero English knowledge... I spent 3 hours wondering around...
Today we are heading through the mountains to Luding - if there will be no landslides blocking the mountain road.

May 03, 2018 12:00 AM Tibetan monasteries and villages

Tibetan monasteries and villages The highlight of yesterday's long drive was restored gompa in Kangding with the great view of the town squeezed in the canyon. Then we climbed to the Zheduo mountain pass 4298 m high, covered by snow. It was still snowing there and sorry, visibility was poor.... On the pass there is a chorten (see picture) and vertical stone confirming the altitude. In the little, new pavilion you can buy drinks and souvenirs.
After a night in Xinduxiao (poor hotel and poor Chinese breakfast) spent on the level 3400 m today we will go northwest - to Tagong Monastery and to the Jiaju Tibetan Village - it is on the list of tourist wonders of China. I pray for the sunny weather, but on this altitude it is very changeable.. Let's hope!

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