Day 7: Border crossing

After spending a night at Kodari, we crossed the Chinese border with not too many difficulties. Such an unique experience…

We arrived at Kodari right before sunset after a hectic drive through an old Nepali bus. The road is really messy and dangerous. The bus was noisy and all short of crap was blowing from outside into our lungs. Our duffle bags left Kathmandu very early in the morning in two trucks with all the cargo that won’t be acquired at Tibet. I’m so stupid that I forgot all three buffs I’m bringing from Dubai inside one of these bags. The whole day I was very paranoid about what I was breathing since I left Kathmandu, and so I was this morning when queuing in the border surrounded by Nepali porters and their children. The first time I visited Nepal I was so amazing by the beauty of these kids, that I spend quite a lot of time playing with them. This morning however I was surrounded by a dozen of Nepali kids and terrified, imagining them as carriers of all sort of diseases, hehehe. On the way back from Everest I will play and give them candy as usual 🙂

We spent not too long forming a perfect line on the middle of the Friendship Bridge. We had to take our position in the line according to our designated number in the group visa. Our passports where numbered and apparently the official staring at us right after opening the border get mad at foreigners not respecting that order. One line for climbers, one line for Sherpas, and another for porters. The porters take our cargo from the trucks parked right at Nepali side of the border, and move it to other trucks at Zhangmu, few hundred meters away from the Tibet side of the border. They were all relaxed walking around the Chinese immigration office, and they look so poor and dirty, but always smiling. After crossing the imaginary middle line on the bridge we all had to wait for about an hour for the officials in the immigration office to inspect our belongings and stamp our passports. They first crossed checked our passport with the data provided in the group visa. Then our bags got scanned and three twelve years old officials carried a manual inspection of our belongings, putting special attention to books and cameras. They were extraordinarily nice, not to bushy and quite respectful. They basically look for religious related items, such us pics of the Lama in our cameras or iPads, political books or tibetan flags. They do not inspect our clothes as you’d expect today to be done at any airport, and so you can potentially hide stuff in your pockets, but as I learned this morning Chinese people is quite respectful and reluctant to make physical contact. After the inspecting of our bags we had to form another line to get our passports stamped. The official in that check point was very nice, and they have an electronic system to survey you on the quality of the service provided, pretty impressive.

Right after getting the stamp, we walked up the hilly main road in Zhangmu to reach the bus that is going to take us all the way to Chinese Everest Base Camp. At that point we learned that our power generators and medical kits have been confiscated after our cargo passed inspection 😦 Very bad news, but Phil has a plan 🙂

Our Chinese bus is quite luxurious considering the condition of the Nepali one. Few minutes driving on a basic road still under construction, and we stopped for or first Chinese meal and beer Lasha, “the Beer from the Roof of the World”. Very yummy food and delicious beverage.

A couple of hours drive, and we arrived at Nyalam, a grey dirty town where we are to spend the next two nights to get acclimatized, since we just jumped from around 2500m to 3780, which is a big gradient.

I’ve managed to buy a scarf, two medical masks and a buff to protect me from all stuff suspended on the dirty air. The smell everywhere is so disgusting… But the people looks extraordinarily nice everywhere. I’ve purchased the scarf and bottled water from one grocery shop, and the owner gave me complimentary chewing gum. Probably he felt guilty for ripping me off, but I don’t mind since the smiles in such an ugly place are priceless 😛

The hotel looks so funny, it reminds me to the Bruce Lee movies. The rooms are cold, humid and basic, but we have warm communal showers on each floor. I’m sharing with Ole and Nelson, I’m so happy!

It’s snowing now and the ambience is quite depressive, so we decided to visit the most popular restaurant here to continue building up our Altitude Drunkies spirit. Local brandy kills all known and genetically modified forms of viruses, bacteria and protozoa . The restaurant is made of eight pieces of wood and is covered with a thick layer of grease that melts and drips from the ceiling as we warm up the ambience with the help of that brandy.

We’ll have dinner here later, and tomorrow I’ll walk everywhere to take photos of such unique town and its people. Good night to all my followers and please help me raising founds toward investigating a cure for cancer!

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