Day 73: Lhasa (拉萨) – August 31

Waking up in the train, we stuffed ourselves with cookies and checked out the surroundings a bit. This train was much better than our previous trips, most likely because there wasn’t that many people on the train. It also seems like all the trains going into Lhasa are specially equipped with nicer beds, windows, water heaters, everything! The people working were also much more friendly and chatted with us quite a bit.

The total distance of the Qinghai-Tibet railway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qinghai%E2%80%93Tibet_Railway ) spanning 1956km, and is the highest train service operating in the world! Passing through Tanggula railway station, which is next to the Tanggula mountain ranges and Cuonahu (措那湖), the second-highest fresh-water lake in China. And after crossing the mountains, we are official in Tibet!!!

The railroad is considered one of the four greatest modern engineering feats in China, and it definitely deserves the title. After leaving Golmud (格儿木), the train begins pumping oxygenated-air into the cabin to combat the effects of high altitude, as there were parts of the ride that surpasses 4900m elevation! Apparently water used to flush toilets have to be heated to avoid freezing in pipes since it gets so cold outside.

The strangest part was, despite being in SERIOUSLY “the middle of nowhere” for a long period of time, you still see nomadic life scattered throughout, herding yaks and sheep in places where elevation rises well above 4500m. It really is a testament to the strength of human beings….

Two cup noodles and a couple of naps later, we finally arrived in Lhasa! And when we got there, we were greeted by….. a thunderstorm!?!? Seriously, seems like wherever we go, the rain clouds have been following us! From the desert cities of Dunhuang to the dry high-elevation climate of Lhasa… We’ve been consistently welcomed to most cities with pouring rain!

We found a hostel, and met a bunch of people to travel with. Some people we met at the hostel actually rode their bikes well over 2000km in high-altitude to arrive into Lhasa, and they checked in right before us. For dinner, the group of 5 went to celebrate by feasting on 50 lamb skewers and 2 cases of beer, all at a nice and cozy elevation of 3600m above sea level….. balls.

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