Another night of stop start sleep. Sometime during the night we changed engines again and ditched the electric motors for three engines and we also entered Tibet.
Waking up, the view from the window was of a tundra plain, with hills rising up in every direction. We managed to miss the monument which showed our maximum height in the train (5268m) and also missed breakfast when we arrived in the restaurant carriage at 9.03am, we were ‘greeted’ by a surly waitress who simply said ‘closed’!
We passed the highest freshwater lake in the world (Tsona) before arriving at our last stop before Lhasa was at Na Qu, and was due to be about 10.30 but we were evidently running late and didn’t arrive here until about 11.15. Nevertheless, our guide was convinced that we would still arrive on time. Another two engines were added and we set off once more.
The scenery began to change as we descended towards Lhasa (3683m) and taller snow capped peaks could be seen. The last three hours of the journey felt like the longest. The ‘hard’ seats were certainly taking their toll but, true to Kando’s word, we arrived into Lhasa 20 minutes early.
A quick security check where our passports were photocopied and we met our driver. Once n the bus, Kando presented us each with a white silk scarf, tying it around our necks as a welcome gift. The scarf, a Kada, is given to visitors and Kando has suggested that we leave it at our highest point as a prayer to the gods.
The journey to the Mandala Hotel was short and once in our room, we took the opportunity to freshen up and have a shower, although mine was cold as the hot water took forever to come through.
We met our group again for an orientation tour and headed off into the central part of Lhasa, Jokhang, which was far more Tibetan in appearance than the main road that our hotel is on. The streets are far narrower and lined with various little shops selling prayer flags and other things. Further on, we came to a temple in the centre of the area which is the holiest temple in the whole of Tibet. There were hundreds of locals walking clockwise around the temple carrying beads in one hand and a prayer drum in the other. We are going to the temple tomorrow to walk around and see inside.
Our walk ended at Shangri La, a local restaurant. The main form of meat is Yak, and Ed had a Yak meal served on a sizzling plate and I had a lamb kebab with rice and Tibetan bread to accompany. On leaving the restaurant, the temperature had dropped significantly and so we headed back to our hotel for an early night.