After spending a few weeks in Nepal, and realizing how close I was to Tibet I figured “Well I came this far… I may as well make an unscheduled trek across The Roof of The World.” After 2 and a half weeks of waiting on a Chinese visa in to The Tibetan Autonomous Region, I was almost ready, but first I needed to suit up in a counterfeit North-face jacket and some warm gloves. In a back room of seemingly every trekking shop in Thamel there is a Nepalese guy sewing a ream of “North Face” patches on to outdoor apparel). It was now December, and I was heading to one of the coldest places on Earth with a bag full of board shorts and sandals, so I was hoping this “quality” gear was going to do the trick (it only had to last a week). At the border crossing in to Tibet we were thoroughly searched and reprieved of any materials mentioning The Dalai Lama.
We spent 7 days driving over Himalayan ranges and mountain passes, reaching elevations as high as 5,260m (17,257 ft.) above sea level over the Gyatso La pass. At those elevations the altitude starts affecting you in terrible ways, and I was hit pretty hard with the feeling of a chronic hangover, general malaise… and the squirts. We actually drove right past Everest base-camp, but weather didn’t co-operate, and the mountain was boxed in my thick and violent cloud cover.
My guide was a local Tibetan who was surprisingly open about describing atrocities that the Chinese government had and continues to purport on the people and culture of Tibet. I thought he would have been worried about badmouthing the government, and I think he was, but he wanted to get the word out to as many foreigners as he could.
When China invaded Tibet, soldiers would force Tibetans to disavow The Dalai Lama, if they didn’t their children were forced to shoot them dead. These children would later receive a bill for the wasted bullet that was used to kill their parents.
Today China continues to push into Tibet with a strict military curfew, restricted travel, and restrictions on religious practices. A high-speed train continues to flood the plateau with Chinese immigrants in an effort to indoctrinate Tibet with Chinese culture.