Tibet 2000: in Gyantse

Gyantse from hotel roof
Gyantse

(This is Part Four of a series. If you’ve just joined me, and want to know how we got to Gyantse, check out Parts One, Two and Three before reading on).

I should have mentioned we were having torrential rain every night. The next morning, W told us the road to Shigatse had been swept away, the bridge was gone and the river in town was flooding. We had two choices. We could go almost all the way back to Lhasa and take an alternative route to Shigatse, but there was no guarantee the roads further on were any better and we might get stuck again. Alternatively, we could cut our losses, go straight back to Lhasa and get a flight out. There were three a week to Kathmandu – Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday. This was Wednesday, so it seemed sensible to try for Thursday so that we could get out before the rush. No doubt every tour group was going to attempt the same thing. W called his manager, who called back to say that he had booked our flights but we would have to pay for them ourselves. There was a lot of argument about this, but eventually at 11:30 we set off along the road we had just come the day before. The difference this time was that we knew exactly how bad it would be.

Gyantse Dong
Gyantse Dong

Within an hour, we were back at the Gyantse Hotel booking in for another night. We had met a convoy coming the other way, which had already turned back from a point where the road was blocked. Part of the problem wasΒ vehicles stuck in the mud from the night before which had travelled later than we had and whose occupants had had to spend the night there. We realised how lucky we had been. W phoned his manager again and he agreed to change our flights to the Saturday.

The rest of the day became surreal. Everything we tried to do went wrong. We went to the monastery. It was closed. We went to Gyantse Dong (the castle). It was closed. Everyone in town was away helping to dam the river. We went to check on their progress and to see what the water level indicated for our chances of escape the next day. The military police stopped us. Our guide was taken away for questioning for almost two hours while we sat in the hotel, drank beer (not good for the headache) and sweated. W got a huge cheer when he returned, which he accepted with his usual modesty. We all respected him a lot by now, and this respect increased later that evening when two other groups, whose guides had not looked after them so well, returned dirty and tired having tried to find a way through to Shigatse – these were the already-mentioned Germans and a minibus full of Chinese. When W told us Shigatse was impossible, we believed him.

That night was my lowest point. I lay awake listening to the rain and worrying. When would we get out? Landslides and bridges could take days or even weeks to fix. What if the river flooded and we were trapped in the hotel? What if one of us got sick? What if we tried to get back and had an accident en route? – a distinct possibility given what I knew about the road. Should I be ringing home to remind people where our wills were and to get someone to adopt the cat? Things got really bleak – but next day dawned bright and sunny and W was optimistic. We met him after breakfast and he reported that the Germans had left at 8am to go back to Lhasa and, as they had not yet returned, he thought we should follow them. We rushed off to pack.

Find out how the journey went in Monday’s instalment.

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45 thoughts on “Tibet 2000: in Gyantse

  1. hilarymb August 1, 2016 / 10:59

    Hi Anabel – certainly an interesting (to put it mildly) journey /sojourn /holiday / road trip … fascinating to read – cheers Hilary

    Like

  2. Liesbet August 1, 2016 / 12:51

    This is turning into a nightmare. I see now what you mean by not traveling to Tibet in the monsoon season. Such a shame you had to miss all the sites, but understandable based on the circumstances. I am getting more and more bummed about the fact that you had to pay extra for all the changes made. I wish the travel agency would help out there… But, I guess the weather is “an act of God” which nobody can predict or prevent…

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    • Anabel Marsh August 1, 2016 / 12:57

      I think there was a feeling that we were rich westerners and could afford to pay. Also, the Chinese company was getting very little – so much had been creamed off by other companies and agents before it got to them. The guide was shocked to hear how much we had paid upfront and that this was a very significant amount for us.

      Like

  3. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor August 1, 2016 / 13:34

    This really is the worst trip ever 😦 Can’t wait for the next installment to see how the journey went.

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  4. Jemima Pett August 1, 2016 / 14:10

    Looking forward to the next part πŸ˜€ I’m just evil, really!

    Like

  5. rosemaylily2014 August 1, 2016 / 14:17

    Gosh this is turning into quite an adventure Anabel – looking forward to the next instalment! πŸ™‚

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  6. Retirementallychallenged.com August 1, 2016 / 14:59

    This really sounds awful! I can’t imagine how worried you must have been. Fortunately we know that you survived since you are here to tell about it!

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    • Anabel Marsh August 1, 2016 / 15:34

      Exactly! I can attempt a cliff-hanger, but you know it can’t be too terrible.

      Like

  7. anotherday2paradise August 1, 2016 / 20:28

    Oh, my! This sounds like a bit too much of an adventure, Anabel. I think you were very lucky with your guide. Looking forward to the next episode.

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  8. dormousetidings August 1, 2016 / 20:36

    Do you know what annoys me the most about this trip? Having to wait for the next chapter! What a great travel tale; maybe not so at the time though 😦

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    • Anabel Marsh August 1, 2016 / 21:07

      I did think of doing one episode per day (there are 7 so it would have fitted a week nicely) but thought people might get fed up. Maybe not!

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      • dormousetidings August 2, 2016 / 20:46

        No way would we get fed up! I like the idea of one episode per day…with my morning coffee. Next time πŸ™‚

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        • Anabel Marsh August 2, 2016 / 21:41

          I hope not to have anything quite so nerve-wracking to relate in future!

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  9. BeckyB August 2, 2016 / 07:33

    oh my . . .I have to keep reminding myself this is real and not fiction. What a nightmare, at least I know you did make it back even if I don’t know what you are going to tell us next!

    Like

  10. Ann Coleman August 2, 2016 / 15:03

    I think at this point, I would have been very nervous about the whole thing! Thank goodness you had a guide you could trust. I can’t imagine how scary it would have been without W.

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    • Anabel Marsh August 2, 2016 / 15:22

      I was quite nervous – but there wasn’t a thing we could do about it at this point except get on with it and hope for the best!

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  11. restlessjo August 2, 2016 / 18:59

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for a happy ending, Anabel. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Or is that the fact that you’re still around to tell the tale?

    Like

  12. Traveling Rockhopper August 3, 2016 / 15:43

    Rain can be really bad in Tibet or Nepal…
    During my trip “only” a snow storm changed a bit my plans, but at the end I was very lucky with everything in Tibet.

    Like

  13. philosophermouseofthehedge August 4, 2016 / 16:36

    This is all sounding like a great comedy movie script. Fun now ( worrying about the cat – so normal)
    Always appreciate the pictures. The buildings are mimic the mountains and natural landscape a bit.

    Like

  14. Birgit August 4, 2016 / 17:54

    That must have been unnerving to see W taken away by these guards. If I was with hubby, I would have to calm him down but if i was with my friend V.J., we would make the most of it. That being said…what an adventure!

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    • Anabel Marsh August 4, 2016 / 18:16

      It was quite worrying! But all turned out well. Eventually.

      Like

  15. Candia August 4, 2016 / 22:28

    Great name- ‘Kumbum’, given your earlier descriptions.
    (You can take the girl out of Glasgow, but you can’t take Glesca out o’ the girl!)

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  16. Blue Sky Scotland August 9, 2016 / 00:22

    An epic and what a tale to balance the discomfort involved. Certainly not your usual package tour.

    Like

  17. jazzfeathers August 23, 2016 / 07:56

    Doesn’t sound like this holyday was very lucky, though I think you were indeed lucky to have a wise guide πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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