Tibet 2000: the sleepover

Tibetan village
Tibetan village
(If you’re wondering why we’re planning to spend the night on the road, check out previous posts in the Tibet Category).

The other vehicles backed up and prepared to spend the night. W was more resourceful. He knew of several places we might be able to sleep: the road menders’ hostel, the hydro-electric power station hostel and an army hotel. The first two were closed and the last would not (understandably) let us in. By this time we had reached a small village with a teahouse and, after some negotiation, we were invited in for tea with the possibility of using the place to bunk down for the night. It was filthy, buzzing with flies and the roof leaked. We accepted the tea (which was fine, untainted by yak) but declined the offer of accommodation, preferring to sleep in the Landcruisers. W and the drivers said they would use the teahouse, but a young, single woman ran it and she didn’t want to share it with three strange men. W then reported that the farmers had offered us the use of their bedrooms and I asked if they would be clean. No, he said worse than this. We declined again and all six of us elected to sleep in the vehicles, so W and the drivers went to the farmers’ houses.

Teahouse and our Landcruisers
Teahouse and our Landcruisers
To say we were the talk of the steamie at this point would not do the situation justice. The entire village, it seemed, was ranged against the teahouse wall watching us. This was actually very typical of the whole trip. Wherever we stopped, however remote the location and however bad the weather, within a couple of minutes an audience would materialise to stare at us. Sometimes they would come right up to the car and stick their noses to the window, and if the doors were open they would stick their heads right in for a better look. The only word they knew was “hello” which they would say over and over again with C, being blonde, attracting the most attention. It was quite un-nerving.

Waking up
Waking up
Finally, we got settled down for the night. The village had no toilets so W advised us to “go anywhere”, which we did. The down jackets provided by our tour company, which we had been lugging around reluctantly, were now pressed into service and proved very cosy to sleep in – and, surprisingly, we did sleep. At least we did after fits of hysterical giggles when C pointed out that a week ago we had never even met, and now here we were sleeping together. The fact that this was in a Landcruiser in Tibet, and a privilege for which we had all paid out thousands of dollars, just made us worse. John remarked plaintively that I was always nagging him to take more time off, and look what happened when he did. I gave him permission to shoot me if I ever again suggested anything more adventurous than a fortnight in Bournemouth.

We got up about seven the next morning so that we could attend to the necessary ablutions before it got too light and our audience got up. Having done this, and breakfasted on water and crackers, we waited for W and the drivers. And waited, and waited. There was no sign of them, but the rest of the village appeared as expected to watch – except one guy who decided to provide his own show. John suddenly hissed to C and me that there was a man masturbating across the road from us. We were too ladylike to look, of course, but this was another example of how, just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they always did!

The road is under here somewhere!
The road is under here somewhere!
We finally got away about 9.30, quite annoyed because we all felt that the sooner we got to Lhasa and were able to fix up flights the better. When we reached the washed-away part of the road again most of the other vehicles had already gone, but I was very relieved to see the Chinese minibus was there. The river over the road was still in full flood, but we got through it by driving upstream to a point where the bank was quite low, and onto the road at the other side from there. After this, it was plain sailing back to the Hotel Lhasa where we were met by a manager from W’s company and started to negotiate our way out.

Well, here I am 16 years later writing from Scotland so I can’t leave you with too much of a cliff-hanger. However, I hope you’ll come back on Thursday for the conclusion to my tale.

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “Tibet 2000: the sleepover

  1. Jemima Pett (@jemima_pett) August 8, 2016 / 11:05

    I thought your village reminded me of the village accommodation we stayed in on Lake Titicaca – but that was clean. I guess your village hadn’t been primed for visitors πŸ˜‰
    I sometimes wonder what we would do if a car-load of aliens descended among us for a tour….

    Like

  2. Birgit August 8, 2016 / 12:14

    Ok….this is hell. To end it with a guy pleasuring himself just seemed to be the icing on this cake. Between that, flies and people looking in at you while you are trying to sleep just makes this a trip you will never forget.

    Like

  3. Liesbet August 8, 2016 / 12:31

    Such a nightmare, Anabel. I don’t think I can come up with any comparable episode in my life. I’ve come very close to a few of your story elements, but not this many in one trip! I guess I should be glad! πŸ™‚ Did you write all this down, 16 years ago, or are you working from (partly) memory?

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 8, 2016 / 12:37

      I wrote it at the time -it’s been very lightly edited, but not much. The full horror is still there!

      Like

  4. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor August 8, 2016 / 15:37

    Oh my, I just don’t know what to say. This really was the trip from hell, or was that to hell? Can’t wait for the final installment πŸ™‚

    Like

  5. Helen C August 8, 2016 / 17:41

    Not sure what I can say to you, Anabel. Maybe… think this way, I bet this is the most unforgettable trip. πŸ˜‰
    I visited my dad’s hometown, a small village, in 1989. I thought I had an interesting experience, but comparing to yours, mine was nothing.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  6. Blue Sky Scotland August 9, 2016 / 00:40

    A brilliant account. Talk about going off the beaten track. I was always a budget backpacker abroad so although it was extra weight to carry all I needed was some grass to pitch my tent. The few times I did stay in towns in very cheap accommodation were always an education but nothing like your trip. A classic. Very well written.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 07:25

      Thank you! I’ve never been a backpacker, I like my comfort, so this was a shock to the system. I wasn’t expecting luxury but I wasn’t expecting anything like this either.

      Like

  7. restlessjo August 9, 2016 / 08:14

    Definitely not an experience to be repeated! But then again- I’m not fussy on Bournemouth πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 08:27

      Ha ha, I did say that! It didn’t work out too well though. Or it worked out very well perhaps, still never been to Bournemouth.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. hilarymb August 9, 2016 / 08:55

    Hi Anabel – an amazing trip – quite almost beyond belief – except you’re telling us about it. I’m glad you said Bournemouth and not Eastbourne! Cheers Hilary

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 10:17

      I could not make it up! I haven’t been to Eastbourne either – south coast is a bit out of the way for us…..

      Like

  9. Spanglish Jill August 9, 2016 / 11:31

    Wow! “Adventure” is right. This kind of adventure does have its merits though – proving to one just how resilient one is. And how amazing that you’ve been to Tibet!! Not many of us can say that πŸ™‚

    Like

      • Spanglish Jill August 9, 2016 / 13:21

        Haha, yes I guzzled down the entire thing. Well done πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  10. maristravels August 9, 2016 / 12:25

    Reminds me of a friend of mine in Tibet whose guide offered her accommodation at his parent’s house and she woke in the night to heavy breathing by her bed. It turned out to be the family cow which they’d put in her room to keep her warm! Hospitality comes in all forms. Loved your story.

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 13:12

      Oh my goodness! That’s one experience we didn’t have.

      Like

  11. Ann Coleman August 9, 2016 / 14:42

    I know that part of the travel experience is to immerse ourselves in another culture, but I have to admit that I draw the line at dirt and filth. I would have opted for the land cruiser, too! This trip does sound horrific, but I’m glad you were able to laugh about it, at least a little bit. Did the travel agency every reimburse you for any of your money? I know this happened a long time ago, but still, I’m reading this, I keep feeling so sorry for you!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 15:14

      That’s a very good question! I thought about including something about compensation but decided it would sound too moany. When we got back we did ask for return of at least some of the extra money we had had to spend on land cruisers and flights but their response was “not our problem”. We should have taken it up with the companies in China and Nepal. Our reply was that a) our contract was with them but they had passed us down the line several times and b) we were reliant on the goodwill of the local companies to get us home. It cut no ice and we didn’t take it further. They sent us a voucher to use against one of their tours the following year. Needless to say, we didn’t take them up on it. I believe they are no longer in business.

      Like

  12. susan@onesmallwalk August 9, 2016 / 16:02

    What surprises me most is that this wasn’t just a day or two of bad travel luck, but – as you wrote – things just kept getting unimaginably worse. It’s fun to imagine you wrote this sitting at a cozy writing table, sipping a nice hot tea. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 9, 2016 / 16:29

      Most of it written on the plane on the way home! Has only needed some light editing – and a bit of debate about whether to leave in the masturbation episode.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. anotherday2paradise August 10, 2016 / 19:49

    Oh, “Murder in the Red Barn!!” as a very old friend of our family would have said. 😯 A village with no toilets would be my idea of hell on earth. I have to say that John doesn’t look like ‘the morning after the night before’. Does he always wake up looking so refreshed? Your horror stories have put to bed any romantic ideas I might have had about visiting Tibet. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 10, 2016 / 20:10

      No he doesn’t! I think we were all running on adrenalin by then. I think if you stuck to Lhasa you’d be ok – just don’t try the road trip would be my advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. BeckyB August 11, 2016 / 16:11

    Superb material for a novel! Good to know you all managed to find the funny side that night, almost disappointed it is going to finish next week!

    Like

  15. rosemaylily2014 August 23, 2016 / 06:33

    Just catching up on your Tibet series Anabel – my computer has been playing up for the past 10 days though Monsieur seems to have fixed it now πŸ™‚ Gosh your holiday sounds such a nightmare and after you’d paid so much money. Had to laugh as that’s the sort of thing I’d keep saying to Monsieur LC “you need to take more time off work” don’t think he’d appreciate this type of trip though. At least you’ve been there and from an outsider’s viewpoint it sounds fascinating!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh August 23, 2016 / 15:12

      It was fascinating! I don’t regret it, but I wouldn’t want to do it again….

      Liked by 1 person

  16. maristravels September 5, 2016 / 12:47

    I’ve just forwarded this to my friend Myra who is currently touring in Tibet. I thought it might cheer her up if she gets into any difficulties!

    Like

    • Anabel Marsh September 5, 2016 / 14:15

      I hope I she doesn’t have the same experiences!

      Like

I'd love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s