So, I've wanted to visit Tibet for sometime, and the original plan for my big overland trip from China all the way back to the UK was supposed to have included Tibet. However there were some riots in 2008 just before I set off, and the Chinese authorities closed Tibet to all (western) visitors. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.
Tibet and I had unfinished business. In 2010 I decided that 2011 would be Tibet year - so I started planning.
I arrived in Tibet on the train from Xining - a large Chinese city that no-one has heard of, and after a few days getting used to the altitude in Lhasa started heading west - and basically kept going!
There were three amazing sights in Tibet that I wanted to visit, Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, and Tsaparang the capital of the ancient kingdom of Guge.
Lake Manasarovar is the highest fresh water lake in the world, and some think it is a gateway to the underworld - well if it is, then it's am extremely pretty gateway, with impossibly blue water and ringed all around with snow capped mountains. I spent a couple of nights in a small basic hostel on the shores and it was a magical experience.
From the shores of Manasarovar one of the peaks that you can see is Mt. Kailash a pyramidal mountain that is sacred to Buddhist's and Hindu's. You don't climb the mountain, you walk around it (Kora) and the more times the better. 108 times seems to be the perfect number. I was just glad to be able to see the mountain, and who knows I might make it back to Tibet and so a Kora around Kailash
My favourite part of Tibet has to be Tsaparang, in the far west of the country and part of the Guge Kingdom. Tsaparang is a fortress city based around a mountain, with temples and a Royal residence at the top of the hill. I make the climb up to the top and got the most amazing view across the valley, to a wind and water eroded landscape topped off by snow covered peaks in the distance.
Oh, and I managed to get to within spitting distance of Everest Base Camp, and had about 5 minutes where I could see the mountain before the cloud covered it!