Friendship Bridge

It was the day of our actual departure for Lhasa, a place I had longed to see above all others. With some challenges, we had arrived at our departure point in Kathmandu. We had shopped for extra food supplements, we had listened to the briefing ref: altitude, possible anticipated problems along the way, and now there was no backing out. We were off.

I had awakened feeling ill. Queasy, headachey, vaguely dizzy. I told Tim to go for breakfast and told myself that I had better get it together, because I was going on this journey and things would be more comfortable if I could shake off this malaise. I told myself it was mind over matter.

So when Tim returned, we collected up our various bits and pieces and we went downstairs and got on the bus. As far as I was concerned, there was no alternative. At least none I could live with.

Maybe it really had been mind over matter, because once we got going, I did feel a great deal better.

The passing scenery was spectacular.

We were surrounded by tall mountain peaks and the surrounding country was all terraced hills with little villages dotted around.

These villages were often connected by way of narrow suspension bridges that traversed the terraced ravines.

It appeared that every available space was used for cultivation, though at the time the fields were bare.

Normally they would be growing rice or wheat and potatoes.

There was no great evidence of trees, deforestation being an endemic problem in Nepal.

We followed the Kyi Chu river for some time, stopping a couple of times to stretch our legs. Some time in the afternoon, we came upon a group of people who were huddled beside the river, looking out over the water, so we stopped once more to see what was happening.

I made a note, hoping that what we discovered was not an omen. Caught in the fishing nets was a corpse. We promptly got back on the bus and continued our journey.

At 4pm, having been underway for eight hours, we arrived at the Friendship Bridge.

Now the fun was about to begin.

We were at Kodari, and here we cleared immigration and “departed” Nepal for a short stay in no-man’s land, where a free-for-all ensued while our baggage was collected up by a group of sherpas.

Our bus could not drive across the bridge as there had been a landslide on the Tibet side and we were going to have to walk to the Chinese immigration point.

When I say walk…..

It was a bit steep.

Good job I had learned about Rockports.

That’s my black suitcase on that poor man’s back. But it didn’t seem to trouble the sherpas a bit. They scampered up, some carrying three suitcases and some wearing no shoes.

Two small boys took pity on me and helped me along which was endearing and welcome, but made me feel even more inadequate!

However, it wasn’t after all our customary environment!

After a lot of huffing and puffing, we crossed the Friendship Bridge and we were in Tibet.

With correction to what we had previously been told, time advanced 2 hours and 5 minutes, but we felt we had stepped back several centuries.

The exhilaration I felt placing my feet on Tibetan soil is something I shall never forget. Never before had I been so aware of the connection of my feet to the ground.

I imagined small electric shocks passing back and forth. All of my anxiety was gone. I think I never felt so alive before. Or since.

Which isn’t to say that it was all smooth sailing from that point.

Oh no no no…….!

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