Reluctantly crawling out of our cozy sleeping bags and into a +5C tent at 7:15am was not fun, but getting outside to see morning glow of Mount Everest made it all better. We took some shots, then headed back inside for some hot water and cookies before climbing onto a ‘environmentally friendly’ vehicle and into the actual ‘base camp’ for Mount Everest on the Chinese border. Guarded by more border patrols (who we feel sorta bad for, being camped out in the middle of nowhere freezing cold with random tourists asking irrelevant questions), it felt like we could cross into Nepal anytime we’d like…. except you’d have to climb through the Himalayas, shouldn’t be that bad right?
On our way back out of EBC, we visited the world’s highest altitude monastery, Rongbusi (绒布寺). There’s about 30 or so lamas residing in there, and apparently there’s an even higher monastery, which is a cave where a single lama resides as he studies in solitude. There were also two very cute sheeps foraging around. Reminder: we’re about 5200m above sea level! Everytime we see goats/sheep, it always reminds us of the little guy Bacon back home….
Driving onto our next destination of Jilong Ravine, we passed by the typical Ali scenery: Green pasture fields full of nomads and their yaks/sheeps, roads bisecting mountainous ranges, and most awesome of all, the snow-capped Himalayas from afar. Before coming around Tibet, I always thought all mountains looked sorta like, well, mountains. That’s where you’re wrong, each mountain seems to have a different story to tell, a different eminence not really captured through the numerous pictures you’d see. On the road, we saw the Shisapangma, a mere 27m above 8000m..hehe. During this trip, we are fortunate enough to see 5 (although one never shown its true facade) of the world’s 14 “Eight-Thousanders” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-thousander). We’ll see the 6th when we do the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal later in Oct.
On our way into Jilong ravine, amongst some pretty deserted landscapes, our driver stopped by for us to take a picture of a lake, but while we were busy posing he started scavenging for wild onions! Apparently, they’re EVERYWHERE and we would be able to make a dish when we get into town later that night. The onions were actually very fragrant, and being adventurous I took a bite. The first taste was refreshing, but it was very spicy when swallowed! When we all got back into the car, everyone’s hands smelled like onions, and it left a residual taste in my mouth which wouldn’t leave no matter what I ate/drank. It even contaminated my water bottle (it tasted like onion the next day!)
Then came the bad part…. for lunch, I had a little too much to eat since we didn’t have any food at EBC in the morning, I got a bit dizzy so I went overboard and ate too much for lunch…. Then came the somewhat pugnant smell of onion taste left in my mouth….and now came the best part, having to climb about 900m on twisting and winding roads. Not before long, it felt like I had a massive hangover full of noodles and onions….. For about 2hrs I held my stance and definitely felt like death was approaching me…. and until I couldn’t stand it and threw up about whatever’s left of lunch…but the onion still remained with me…. From this day on, I have to restrain myself from eating a full meal…. =(
Then came another 3hrs of car ride, but what was amazing was this ravine, although having similar altitude, the terrain turns from deserted mountains into a lush tropical-like region, with mountains covered with trees, waterfalls and grasslands! Arriving into the ravine village of Jilong (吉隆), we were about 40km from the border of Nepal, and so for dinner we had Nepalese curry rice. Yum! By next year, they’ll extend the roads and turn this into a port city.