zaterdag 8 oktober 2011

Tibet Trip part 1: the train trip

Hey everyone!
It has been while! Some of you probably thought that I already stopped blogging on BlogSpot, and that is true in some sense; I was considering stopping blogging here and continuing on Youtube only, because maintaining a Youtube blog and a BlogSpot blog is too time consuming. I kept that mindset until today when I came back from Tibet. Yes, I just came back from a 10-day trip in Tibet with (of which 6 days is traveling only) with 4 classmates of mine: Annie, Benita, Mickey and Sander. I experienced many things during my trip to Tibet, and it is not possible to include everything in just one video. Thus I have decided to write a blog about it!

The day of departure was last week Thursday. I still had a lecture that day, so I (and all of the people that I went with to Tibet) came backed with suitcases, large backpacks and of course many bags of food to class. When the lecture ended, we took a taxi and rushed to the train station to pick up our train tickets and begin our journey that I can say I will never forget.
We boarded our train, pushed ourselves with our luggage through the crowds of Chinese people in the narrow hallways, found our beds and settled down in what would be our home for the next 44 hours as the train ride to Tibet takes almost two days of our trip. We had hard sleepers, which means we have a room with six bunk beds and no door to close the room. Though the name suggests that the beds are hard, they were not fortunately. They are far from something what you would call a soft comfy bed, but I cannot complain.
We were sitting on our beds, talking about how exited we are, thinking of what we’re going to do for the next two days when suddenly the train shook and began to move to our destination. It still didn’t sink into our heads that we were heading to Tibet! As the train was moving towards the west, we saw through the window the changes in the landscape. From urban areas to more rural, from muddy ground to sandy ground, to rocks, to tundra and then finally to landscapes that are completely covered with snow and mountains.

44 hours in a train that is crowded with Chinese people, this sounds like hell and that was what I expected. I was slightly worried that I might be bored in the train as there was even going to be a day where you wake up in the train and go to sleep in the train! My worries fortunately didn’t come true as they 44 hours actually went by quite smoothly. The view on the train was amazing. We passed many mountain villages and even the highest lake in the world at around 4,500 meters! It was not the same as sitting in a plane as I could actually move around in the train and that made it feel like I was not stuck on one spot. Sleeping in the train not too bad either! Having earplugs in and a mask in front of my eyes closed me off from the outside world made it possible for me to enjoy ‘sleeping-time’. Yes, the 44 hours got burned down quite nicely… and it did help that we played Risk for more than 10 hours…

Climbing higher and higher, from 1,000 to 2,000 to even more than 4,500 meters above sea level. Altitude sickness was something to be worried about at these altitudes. Things we were expecting were headaches or nausea, but fortunately, the worse we experiences was a slight headache. The high altitude did have an interesting side-effect to our food that we brought with us. Because of the low air pressure, bagged food began to expand and bags of chips changed from a unhealthy snack to a deadly bomb that is about to explode. Well, deadly might be a little bit exaggerated, but it still didn't stop us from holding the bag close to someones face as a prank.
With only half an hour delay, after 44 and a half hours, we arrived at our final destination: Lhasa train station in Tibet. As we got out of the train and had the most movement I had in the last 2 days, my eyes were amazed what it saw. Several cars on the platform were one of the surprising things, but the sheer modern-ness and cleanliness of the station is what caught me off guard. Simple straight lines with very little coloring gave the station a very non-Chinese feeling. We took our luggage and went to the exit while my eyes looking at everything around me; from the mountains to the extremely clear sky, from the modern station, to the many soldiers. Yes… soldiers. Nervous is what I would describe the feeling I had as I was filming and taking pictures of everything I want to remember and save for the future. A soldier even made me delete video’s and pictures as they were in it, but fortunately, Chinese soldiers are technologically impaired as I faked the deletion of my media.

To be continued...

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