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drive days and 5400m

Lhasa, China

Ali, 23rd
I updated all my blog yesterday then came to a different internet cafe today and found that blogabond is blocked. dave couldnt get onto his blog either so i presume its the government controlling it. very annoying! so i am writing this in my email to transfer when i can. at least email is still accessible.
we are now onto our 6th drive day in a row which is hard work! it has been early starts and driving all day until dinner and sometimes beyond. the scenery changed quickly and dramatically into high altitude mountainous desert. its quite stunning, with sand for miles, then colourful mountains and the odd lake in the distance all around us. we come across small villages with restaurants for lunch and dinner, big distances apart. i finally got a shower this morning, which was something after 5 days without sitting in the truck getting covered in sand and dust! we have now been upto 5400m twice in a day and havent been below 4300 for the last few days. so not surprisingly most of the group have been getting altitude sickness symptoms, including me- head ache, tiredness, feeling energyless and sick. hannah has it quite bad and feels really dizzy and not with it. it is a bit scary because usually you could just go back down the mountain and be ok again, but we cant go down! we are driving to mount Kailash today so going back up to 5000m and camping at this height. i am a bit nervous about it, and potentially want to do the 3 day trek around mount Kailash which clenses all your sins aparently and gets upto 5600m so it will prob be quite hard to breath!! i think i will be relieved to get down to normal air! we have been camping by the side of the road, which is actually not allowed by the police for tourists to stop there, so we have been pretenting BiRT has broken down to do this, and we stayed in a little house that had lots of beds crowded into one room- but it was warm! the temperature has got freezing. mostly we sit in BiRT in our down jackets and sleeping bags just to keep warm. when we stop for breakfast- which is porridge made on a small portable stove, it has been particularly bad- when i washed my plate and left it for 5 mins- the remaining water had frozen! it cooled my porridge down a bit!
We found an unknown crag on the way yesterday, so stopped and had the afternoon exploring. i did a nice easy 2 pitch climb with Jill that had the potential to do at least 5 further pitches to reach the top if we had more time. i gear was run out though! we then drove onto Ali that evening and were planning to have a vote whether to miss a trek to have more days at the crag, but then found out we couldnt go back there because there is a check point inbetween Ali and the crag, so we could not explain why we were changing our schedule to the guards, as they are sooooo strict here! so it is onwards with our original plan. we are also not allowed to split from the group, so that limits us all to doing exactly what is on the schedule.
after Kailash is 4 driving days then Mount Everest basecamp trek, then onto Lhasa. So far, i dont feel like we are in T!bet, but i think perhaps tomorrow when i see monks and prayer flags, etc. then it will be how i imagined it here.

permalink written by  Clairesj on September 3, 2009 from Lhasa, China
from the travel blog: Clairesj's Travel Blog
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The Arc of Asia 2009-2010. Bring on the climbing!

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