August 8, 2005
We have traveled many many miles since the last post.
The highlights have been:
A little log cabin village 4 hours up a small but raging stream. This was a village without electricity full of horses (with braided manes and tails), and beautiful vegetable gardens.
A monastery up the same stream with truly GIGANTIC trees--Trees at least 10 feet wide. At this monastery I was offered a plate of hooves. I declined.
The festival we ran into today up on the plateau where the women were wearing hats I have only seen in photographs taken over 100 years ago.
The view of all the snowcapped mountains from the Chola pass... around 5050 meters high.
All the lovely encounters we have had in people's homes and tents.
The low points have been:
Going 5 hours up a river only to have the road washed out.
Having to camp in the car because of said washout. It was freezing and raining. Our firemaking abilities were less than impressive.
Getting a very bad cold at altitude.
Paul forgetting his bag with his passport on the side of the road.
The anonymous meat I ate yesterday that is still making my stomach grumble.
Rain. (It's been pouring rain every day for at least part of the day)
Getting locked into our room at night in some places.
Other random notes.
There have been many changes around here since my last visit. The main ones being electrification and fencing. All along the main roads there are now electrical lines and telephone lines. You really have to travel far up side roads to lose these. Also there is now fencing on the plateau along the roads. This is new too.
The city of Manigango, once a 2 building trading post is now a real town with at least 4 streets. There was a heavy police presence there yesterday with groups of police in full riot gear marching up and down the streets. We were not allowed out of the restaurant. I have no idea what was going on.
The roads in this area have been vastly improved since I last visited. A few years ago they were just paths on the plateau. Now they are real roads, full of potholes yes, but much improved. The drive over the mountains felt much safer. We only saw one major accident (a huge truck that had fallen 40 feet into a river).
Sershul (Serxu) is pretty much unchanged although there are many more wild dogs roaming the streets. Hundreds of them lounging in the dust, humping lazily, picking up scraps of yak meat from rubbish piles. Cities like this are scary at night because the dogs get together in packs and become aggressive late in the evening. The hotel here looks abandoned (it is empty except for us and everything is in a sorry state of disrepair), but every time I visit the toilet a group of kids materialize to watch the show.
I think that's it. I'm dusty to the core but excited for the next couple of days. We will be covering some roads that were previously closed to foreigners. These roads will take us out of Kham through deep forests and over some high mountains deep into Amdo.
Too much love to my wife who is coping with our baby's first cold/flu alone.