Newsletter #5 01NOV06 – Tibet
Wow, it’s hard to put to words what those last weeks have offered. Tibet has without doubt been one of the most unique travel experiences ever. The Tibetan Plateau is a very challenging place to be and I’m deeply impressed by the way the Tibetans get along here.
The challenge of crossing Tibet by bicycle has been complete to me:
Physically, the mountains, my unlucky crash and the badly hurt hand (it’s relatively fine again though not totally functionable), the thin air that has given me many problems breathing especially during the nights, the unexiting food and the incredible coldness that dominates 24-7 (and that makes it highly inconvenient to go to the outside toilet at night ‘cos ass and balls get all frozen even before you’re done!) have been some of the things I’ve struggled with.
Mentally, the isolation, the occasional total lack of social contact, the longing thoughts to all the folks back home that I love, the knowledge that there’s no easy way out, the thin air (again), the loneliness, the great distances have been tough.
The remarkable thing and what makes it so hard to describe my Tibetan experiences is, nonetheless, the way the physical and mental challenges has played tricks on me phychologically. The thoughts have been flying and at times claustrophobic and very hard to control. I’ve had a hard time sticking to that part of me that for the first 6 months of the expedition has been cycling with a figurative fist in the air and that has met the world and its unpredictabilities with optimism.
Being alone in the enormous mountains in the unpleasant coldness is hard psychologically and has reveiled a
certain fragility in me that I really didn’t like but which has been a learning experience for me.
I’m now in a smaller town, Saga where I arrived by bus yesterday. For 5 crazy days I waited in a little Tibetan village, Huore with 2 American cyclists, Chris and Sage (check Sages blog here).
The climate was just to much for all of us, the joy of cycling had dissappeared so we decided to hitch a ride to Saga, 460 km. But it soon proved to be a lot harder than expected. Practically no trafic at all and those 2-4 truck that passed us daily were afraid of the police and refused to take us.
After 5 days the weekly bus finally arrived. I was close to exploding out of pure frustration! The good thing about it was that all the waiting gave me a good opportunity to anthropologically make a small field study of the Art of Waiting. But goddammit, I could have been without that experience!
I got very emotional when I checked my email inbox yesterday. So many encouraging and positive sounds from here & there. Thanks a lot for that, guys. It means a lot to me. Please, let the piano play. The sounds keep me going also (and especially) when the gioing gets tough! Thanks!
Tomorrow I’ll leave Saga with a Slovakian/American guy, Rich (see his blog here) and head towards Nepal (ca. 400 km). I’ve had enough of the Tibetan Challenge and are really looking forward to Kathmandus lowland climate, the social life, gastronomical selection, that I vividly remember from my first Nepal visit in 1996. I plan on being in Kathmandu in around a week from where I’ll be back with more news on WT. I need a long rest, to socialize, drink beers and I’m confident that Kathmandu is the right place for that!
Again, thank you very much for the mental support. It feels almost physical and it makes me happy…