Changing China

Giant on the move

Nick, the torch and Mt Everest – Day 2

April 30, 2008

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After another round of negotiations with the organisers the next morning, we reached an agreement that we would get an extra day to acclimatize before we reached base camp.

That didn’t, of course, mean we would make the short journey to the next stop at Lhartse in short order and have the rest of the day to relax.

The journey was extended with a trip to a hot spring.

There, I was encouraged to consult a purveyor of traditional Tibetan medicine, who based his prognosis on feeling the pulse on both wrists.

After his first call went a bit wide of the mark (Had a motorcycle hit me 10 days ago? Er, no), he hurriedly decided I was in excellent health and had no need of his herbs.

day2-2.JPGI was reassured that there was no mention of altitude sickness (a cinch diagnosis for any Tibetan snake-oil salesman faced with a European, surely?) but had my confidence tested almost immediately when our little coach rattled its way up a winding shingle track to the Tsam Monastery (4,500m).

day2-3.JPGIt was worth every hair-raising bend of the drive to see the intricate wood carvings in the 1,000-year-old cluster of buildings.

A group of pilgrims shared their picnic of ground barley and dried mutton and there was cup after cup of Yak butter tea.

Lhartse (4,200m) itself was nondescript but it was a mild shock to realize that there were still places in China where children beg for pencils.

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Pix from the top: An elderly Tibetan woman walks towards the 1000-year-old Tsam Monastery located on a mountain at an elevation of over 4500 metres near the Tibetan city of Shigatse April 26, 2008. The 1000-year-old Tsam Monastery located on a mountain at an elevation of over 4500 metres near the Tibetan city of Shigatse. A young Buddhist monk puts his hands together as he stands in a temple at the 1000-year-old Tsam Monastery. A young Buddhist monk stands in the Tsam Monastery. REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)

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