8th May 2011,Tingri. The entrance towards the Mt.Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) base camp was blocked by a Chinese Military sentry and we were told to turn back without a reason given.
At a rest stop on our way back, a stranger disclosed to us that the soldiers in the higher mountain base was seen packing up and advise us to wait.
Our patience paid off after two hours.
We will be taking the old road (Rechu check point) to the base camp, being more adventurous, over the recently built paved road to cater to the mass tourism.
The original plan was two riders to a sidecar, as we are not certain of the reliability of this old machine enduring the uncertain terrain, the thin air and the effect of the AMS (Accute Mountain Sickness) on the us.
(As you find out towards the end..It turns out.. well to be a ‘mistake’.
Or wast it ? Depending how you respond to the chain of an events.
If I am expecting a scheduled program, I should hunting for a discounted tour package like a herd.)
Passing through some supposedly isolated village and suddenly we were swamped by children. the noise pollution of the machine must have triggered the curiosity of the otherwise peaceful village. sheltering the community from the burning sun and chilling wind. Other than working on their field seasonally, the harsh weather is just not conducive for any outdoor activity, with exception to swarm the occasional outsider that passes by.
An encounter with the outlying nomads.
While waiting for our stranded support vehicle to be rescued. Under the burning and toasting sun, synthesize with the skin-slicing freezing wind. In this seemingly inhospitable landscape, three wandering nomads approached us.
Sign language was our communicator. Their facial feature suggest they could be related, brothers perhaps. it is very difficult to ascertain their age, like most Tibetan, due to the proximity to the unforgiving sun and the harsh altitude. I could be their elder, by age.
I could match them, if I stayed any longer. By now, my face started bleeding just from the sun burns and laceration from the face scarf that should be protecting me instead, literally slicing my skin layer at a time till the hair pores are bloodied.
Our worst fear came through. The altitude and thin air is taking a toll not just on some of us, but the old machine. Even a passing jeep have its own difficulty crossing a high pass. With still 80km of unknown terrain ahead of us, which will take us another half of day to complete, amid without any incident. There is a high risk of chance we may be stranded and be exposed to the weather element when night falls, in which we are not equipped to overcome. We made a difficult choice and reluctantly turn back.
Well..on the ‘bright side’ , it gives me personally a good excuse to come back!
An unfinished business!
‘Misadventure is always the most memorable part of an adventure, that’s why I fell for it every time! The other outcome are just what we expected it to be.’ – Wango
The video summary so far…
The next day.. undeterred by our failed attempted to reach the base camp via the old road.
I’m here in Tibet for the first time, and we just have to see the Mt.Qomolangma with my own eyes!
To our reluctance, we just have to do it the tourist way, rented a mini van and took the ‘tourist route’.
Giving our battered steel donkey ample time to nurse and recover.
To a motorcycle adventurist, this is the most enduring and forgettable ride of the whole journey.
The stale air of the 4 wheel metal box and bumpy, window head-knocking ride behind the steer!
I would rather still be soaking in the burning sun, breathing dust and sandblasting my charred face.
Veni, Vici and well.. maybe Vici with a little cheat.
I’ll be back again.. probably, in my own way!