The morning greeted us with sub zero temperatures. Today was our last day in Tibet and I am actually not too sad. Honestly speaking, I’ve had enough of China already and am really looking forward to moving on.
Our brakes were still being problematic so getting to a mechanic first was a priority. Our guide Deji took us to a garage located in what seemed like a garage city. More than 50 car garages all together in one place!.
We stopped at a wayside restaurant for breakfast and were met with dozens of curious eyes the minute we stepped in. As we ate, the patrons at the table behind us continued to point in our direction and talk animatedly. I really wanted to know what they must be thinking about us. As we prepared to leave, our guide explained to us the the men sitting behind us were the local governor’s who wished to formally welcome us to their town the Tibetan way- by preventing us with white scarves around. While I was still eager to exit Tibet into China (better roads!) I was definitely going to miss the warm hospitality of the locals.
Barely one hundred kilometers on the road and we find ourselves looking at the longest traffic jam I have ever seen. It was caused some construction work that left the road blocked and it didn’t seem like the problem would be solved anytime soon.. As if ten kilometers of traffic wasn’t bad enough, most of the vehicles were massive trucks. It was like Siliguri all over again.
After about half an hour, we’d had enough and decided to take our journey off road till we could beat the traffic. Everyone was ready to do it. Everybody but mom. She was sceptical about driving off the road especially since we’d been having some car trouble. Eventually seeing tiny cars successfully beating the traffic (by following the path less taken) gave mum some confidence.
We drove from the barren desert into a winter wonderland. Fresh snow covered the mountain slopes and the ground. At first, like sugar sprinkled on a donut and later, like thick white icing on a cake. We seemed to stagnate at an altitude of about 4500 metres. I now understand why they call it the roof of the world. Kilometers of flat land stretched out around us. It was hard to believe we were 15 thousand feet high.
We ate spicy potato fries at a tiny restaurant in a small town. Our destination Geermu was still seven hours away and it was already 11 at night. For a while we entertained the idea of driving all night but eventually realised how foolish that would be. Luckily we were able to find a tiny guest house with room heating. In a place like that, it was truly a miracle. Despite sub-zero temperatures outside, I got the best sleep I’ve had in a while.