quinta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

Lhasa / Kathmandu - 11th Day

Rong Buk Monastery (5100m) - Old Tigri (4350m) - Camping (4450)

Distance - XXX

I woke up in a kingdom of cloud's. Unfortunately I couldn't see for one last time the majestic Qomolongma. I felt sorry for my new companions that got up very early in the morning to have the chance to see the Mount Everest. Since the very moment they set their tents there was a huge and thick barrier that stuck between us and the Mount Everest.

Because yesterday the sky was clear, I had plenty of time to do what I wanted. Resting was, of course, on the top of my task list. However, around noon I said farewell to Base Camp. I went down to Rongbuk Monastery to meet my road mates, those I had met for several times, days before. We settled to meet somewhere near the Everest Base Camp and there they were, setting their tents beside the Monastery.

The assemble consisted of six companions, from different nationalities: three Italians, Spanish, a English and a German. Excluding the German, each one of them were somehow used to this kind of journeys. The hours passed by slowly as we talked about us, our countries and the trip we were doing. Because of the bad weather, they planned to visit the Base Camp in the next morning.

Today the road was waiting for me again but my body was begging for more rest…I woke up torpid, in a heavy body and claiming for more resting days…however after having the breakfast I was feeling strong again and steady to move towards the unknown and to jump to the same dusty road that I cycled two days before. To my joy I cycled no more than a few kilometers on the same dusty and busy “highway”. One hour after I left Rong Buk I turned to a small bumpy road that would take me to Old Tigri. This was the kind of road I was hoping to find since the beginning of this trip. An old and small bumpy road used only by locals. Finally…the chance of being hit by the crazy cars and their frenzied people came to an end.

Since the first meters I got the feeling that the road would take me to some special places...and I was right. At the end o f the day my heart and mind were full of joy…my wishes were achieved…Truly this was the kind of road I was dreaming to cycle in Tibet…the road to somewhere in the middle of nowhere! Once again I experienced the wide, magical and thrilling landscapes but this time almost without signs of human presence. I crossed only a few villages and just from time to time a few human faces were seen. There were moments that I felt like I was in one of the remotest places in Asia and living an ancestral time…Beside the landscapes, the road offered small and quite places, those kinds that only the bumpy roads can offer.

This day came to be one of the best's days of my trip :-)

This was my journey to Old Tigri...

One of the few faces I had seen on the way to Tigri. A shepherd that came to me with a big smile and with his eyes always shut :-)

A message to some friends :-)

Old Tigri

sexta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2010

Lhasa / Kathmandu - 10th Day

Qomolongma Base Camp (5200m) - Rongbuk Monastery (5100m)

Distance - 5km

Resting day...

Memorial to George Mallory and Andrew Irvine

A very sofisticated tent from Apollo Esperanza, a spanish guy that was also riding to Kathmandu.

quinta-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2010

Lhasa / Kathmandu - 9th Day

Camping (4350m) - Rongbuk Monastary (4980m) - Qomolongma Advanced Base Camp (5100m)

Distance - 60km

The last step to reach the Qomolongma Base Camp :-)

I wondered if I was getting used to or if it was just because of the good mood I was feeling in that morning, however the true was my body was getting painless and stronger. After the usual breakfast, that was growing smaller by the day (my storeroom was getting "thinner"...), I got back to the bumpy road or, better saying, the road made of stones with the size of my head. It was the same road I had to ride on the day before...the firsts km became a nightmare.

A few km ahead I crossed a small village with more sings of development than the villages I had seen before. The explanation for that was quite simple...in nowadays this village enjoy a strategic location. This is a mandatory route and stop to hundreds or maybe thousands of tourists every year, heading the Qomolongma Base Camp and a famous trek called Kator.

As the km went by I crossed other small villages, always full of children. However the human atmosphere of these places was quite different from the one I had the opportunity to feel in the villages I met days before. Here, the older people were less communicative and had always a cold face. When I was seen, most of the children had only one thing in mind: trying to get something from me. And most of them became aggressive after realizing that I had nothing to offer. In some moments I had to jump out of the bike to stop and frighten them away. Those moments were always tense…I true believe that the face is like the window of your soul and heart. And for any reason, out of my known, the window of the people of this valley somehow was blocked.

Besides that, those tense moments always got worse when the caravans of jeeps, filled up with tourists (most of them Chinese), passing, sometimes, no more than a few centimeters from me and the children…Moreover, the possibility of being knock down by this crazy and frenzied people, there was the risk of being hit with thrown rocks. Most of this guys had no sense of respect for those that are walking, riding or just crossing this goddamned road…even when I was giving them signs to slow down most of them didn´t care…in one moment I decided to grab a small rock and ride with it just to throw it against the first car that didn’t respect my signs…I got really mad…

After a while I had to stop and put my thoughts away from that negative atmosphere…I stopped right in the middle of a bridge to chill out my soul and body with the sound of water and the beauty of the landscape. Absorbed in my thoughts I didn’t realize that a small girl came by noiseless and was making me company. Her face was extremely kind and timid but had a beautiful and true smile. She didn’t ask for anything. After a few minutes in silence I decided to speak with her in English and Portuguese. She didn’t understand a single word but the empathy came out since the first look J and we started to communicate through gestures. I shared with her the only energetic bar I was carrying…her smile was a wonderful gift to me. Suddenly she stands up and without a goodbye she went away. I give her a goodbye but after awhile she appeared with an elder lady, probably her grand-mother. It was not the first time I felt frustrated because of the language…this can probably be the strongest barrier to one's learn and be part of a different culture…I was loosing the most interesting part of the tibetan culture just because I was not able to speak and understand a single word…

After some funny moments with my camera I said farewell and jumped to the road. That negative atmosphere had completely disappeared J and the sweet moment I had was enough to make me forget those tense moments and to give me the motivation to conquer the tens of km that I still had ahead to reach the Qomolongma Base Camp!

The girl I met on the bridge :-)

Her grand-mother

My first view of Everest!

The north-face o Everest

sexta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2010

Lhasa / Kathmandu - 8th Day

Camping (4490m) - Shekar (4390m) - Pang La Pass (5290m) - Camping

Once again the wind whipped me when I was coming down from Gyatsola Pass, yesterday afternoon. The altitude, the wide and high plateaus and the mountain ranges, the dryness and the constant presence of the sun, make the perfect scenario to happen the everyday afternoon strong gusts.

The downhill was always programmed for the afternoon, so I could consider myself fortunate to have the gusts against me during the easiest section. Although, the exhaustion of my body and mind was getting worst by the day and even worst at the end of each day… in some moments this situation drove me mad because I was not able to enjoy, in a relaxed way, the downhill and the landscape…I assumed, wrongly, that the downhill was always the prize for the incredible effort I was doing to climb the steeply slopes. ..but this kind of thoughts didn’t last more than a few minutes… I knew that this was part of the tray and on arrival I always got the same wonderful feeling…even after the long ride, I was always pleased to have the opportunity to live this intense experience.

In the morning of the 8th day, I jumped out of the tent and I couldn’t resist to the wonderful scenario that was again right in front of my eyes: a cleared atmosphere, the strong and warm colors of the mountains, the green colors of some farm fields, the contrast produced by the shadows and the first sun beams and, again, the amazing dark blue of the Tibetan sky… I couldn’t resist…I spent more than an hour taking pictures and recording this beautiful moment.

On the 8th day I would, finally, say farewell to the pavement road! After the Qomolongma Natural Park checkpoint I would have to ride the bike more than 100km in a bumpy road to reach the Everest Base Camp. My level of enthusiasm suddenly boosts up forgetting all my tiredness!

The bumpy road to Pang La was made of sharp turns, a pronounced zigzag going up the hill to make one life’s easier. At the beginning I had 1000m to climb and tens of kilometers ahead to ride. By then this came to be the hardest section I had since I left Lhasa.

While I was ascending the steeply hill the scenario was getting incredibly beautiful…I was getting higher, leaving the valleys below and suddenly it was like the mountains and the wide landscapes were uncovered. Believe me…this was the day I really felt that I was in the very heart of Tibet!

When I finally got to Pang La Pass it was like I had two stages that unexpectedly were opened right in front of my eyes, revealing probably two of the most amazing and extraordinary landscapes ever made by our planet!...in one side I could see the open Tibet with the warm colors, the mountains and some white peaks…in the other side, a open sea of small mountains growing up progressively to form the highest range in the world…the majestic Himalayas!!...all my emotions and my tiredness made an explosive mixture… I couldn't avoid and some tears came out from my eyes.

However Pang La was not the highest point I could achive by mountain bike. Right beside the road was a narrow trail going up through a ridge to the very top of small hill covered by gravel and by dark red soil. It was more than 100m to get to the top but I couldn’t resist…I was having the chance to beat my altitude record…and…by bike!

Nearly 4:30pm I had to leave this amazing place. It was not easy but the temperature was dropping down quickly and, again, the wind was getting stronger. One of the highest and longest downhill was just waiting for me! A moment of fun was just round the corner! So, I prepared myself and stepped forward at great speed! In one of the dozens turns I was not able to control the bike and the unexpected came to happen…for the first time I tasted the ground :-)! Fortunately on that curve the speed was not high enough to injured me badly.

My 8th day was a big and wonderful day…

Heading up!

Almost there...
My first view of Himalayas :-)

At 5390m!

Heading down! :-)