|well we're here in lhatse (not shigatse, shigatse was the ony town i could put on the map, so thats where the red dot is), and its a dry, dusty town. i cant believe theres internet access. if it werent for you, the faithful readers and your ravenous hunger for new posts, id be dissapointed that it was here. just cant get away from it these days.
arrival here in lhatse marks the end of day 1 on the friendship highway. we left at 9 in the am with about 20 people on a 30-seater bus, most of them tibetans. there are actually two americans with us, which is odd considering we havent seen any up to this point. it was a perfect day, which made for great scenery. i was watching the mountains and rivers pass by almost without blinking. the road hugs the Tsangpo River for most of the way. this river originates in western tibet and flows east, searching for a way south through the himalayas. the mountains make it wait, and wait until finally it is permitted to snake through to india. it is a burly river in some parts, well-known and feared by white water enthusiasts worldwide.
we passed many monasteries, most of them very out of the way, off the road and only slightly visible. we picked up some hitch hikers, who loaded the isles of the bus with yak butter and other things. lunch was great. to my surprise, we stopped at a small cafe for about an hour in a town ill never know the name of. FYI - tibetan men pee when they want, where they want and stagefright is no friend of any tibetan. everybodys gotta go right? anyway, the yak curry we had for lunch was delicious and cheap, a combination that can make you fat. we continued after lunch and found some dirt road sections. we had been spoiled by the asphalt up til this point. it would have been more pleasant had the driver not been blaring the same tibetan tunes over and over. some songs were good though, and seemed to fit the landscape and people of this place.
lhatse is a small town with a main drag, complete with wondering cattle and donkeys (watch where you step). it sits at 4000 meters, 500m above lhasa. multiply by 3.3 to get that in feet. we're staying in the lhatse hotel. theres no running water, which means outhouses of the squatting variety. the smell makes your eyes water. this is no place to hang out and read a magazine (would be hard to keep your balance with one anyway, and your balance is one thing you dont want to lose in there). all in all, im lovin every minute. tomorrow, we see the big one. yes...Everest. ill say hello for you.