Tag Archives: Chola Pass

Escape from Ganzi to Dege, Tibet: Hotel Horrors and Hotel Highs

So when we last left off, I had just had a complete nervous breakdown in the middle of Tibet and was told that I would be leaving Ganzi in a shared minivan at 8:00 the next morning.  You can read all about that here.

Well that morning was this morning and I should probably start off by telling you that I did indeed get out of Ganzi (YAY) but the story is a bit more complicated than that.

I knew I was supposed to be leaving at 8:00 so I planned to leave my hotel at 7:30.  The shared minivans gather about ten feet from the door.  I woke up at 6:00 am and was just about to eat a Cliff Bar and drink some milk tea when someone began knocking on my door.  What the hell.  I open it and it is a dude standing there who says “Dege” to me.  I say “I thought we were leaving at 8:00” which he does not understand, as if it mattered anyway.  He does a driving motion and says “Dege” and points down, meaning “come on, let’s go.”

If I wasn’t such a maniac, I would not have even been awake yet.  I could in theory have set my alarm for 7:30 and still have been outside by 8:00.  As it was, I was only awake for maybe five minutes.  So now I have to rush like even more of a maniac and pack and get out now.  I am ready in five minutes, but I am all shaky from doing too much when I was only awake for five minutes in high altitude. Plus, I had consumed zero calories.  But hey, I am getting out of Ganzi so let’s go!

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In order to have gotten ready so fast, all I did was squeeze some toothpaste into my mouth and swished it around while I changed out of my pajama pants into jeans, put my hair in a pony tail,  put on my sneakers and hoodie and ran out the door.  It did not hit me until we were almost at Dege (seven hour drive) that I was wearing a band shirt that I had slept in that reads “If there’s a god he hates us.”   In a region of the world where religion is a pretty big deal. Luckily, I don’t think anyone could read it.

The minivan was horrible, as expected.   They pack so many people in these things.  This one had bucket seats so people had to sit on stools in the aisle between the seats  There was too much luggage to fit.  But this is China so it was put in anyway.  For the entire ride, I had a wheel of someone’s suitcase digging into my shoulder.  I tried using it as a massage tool for a while, but once we left paved road, it became excruciating.

There are so many roads that are not paved. Then there are the are mountain passes.  You are driving around a fucking mountain, on the edge, on a driving path that is so narrow, it would be a single lane in the United States.  But this is China, so it is a double lane.  There are trucks going on this route.  When they pass and you are on the edge of a fucking mountain, there are only mere inches of space between you and the truck, and you and the end of your life if you fall over the side.

Add to that, my driver had this annoying habit of sticking his head out his window and looking behind him.  Without stepping on the brake.  So we would be slow rolling and he wasn’t watching.  It was quite the fingernail biting experience when we were on solid ground. But when he did it a few times as we were about to veer off of a 5050 meter high mountain pass, I nearly vomited.  Like literally, I was burping up bile.

We passed an overturned minivan that had a bunch of people outside looking absolutely devastated.  I imagine there were people either dead or trapped inside. Even seeing this, did not make my driver drive any less like a maniac.

The view though…guys…the view.

chola pass between ganzi and dege tibet china gorgeous blue sky behind chola pass between ganzi and dege tibet china snow on chola pass between ganzi and dege tibet chinaGood thing we didn’t die or else you guys would never have seen these photos!

I have a new thing that whenever we pull into a new town, it starts raining.  I do not mean drizzling, I mean the skies open up and vomit more than I did when my driver almost drove us off a mountain.  So my first impression of Dege was standing under an awning for about half an hour getting “hello!”ed at by the locals.  I got “hello” yelled at me here more than anywhere ever before.  Some of the younger kids followed it up with “What is your name?”

Then it was time to find a hotel.  Oh you guys.  The mistakes I have made in my entire life pale greatly to today’s mistake.

I passed a few hotels as I was walking through inches of mud.  The sidewalks here, when they exist, are all broken and missing in spots so there are unusable.  The hotels I kept seeing had nothing written in English, only had photos of beds on the awnings.  They were all up staircases.  High altitude, seven hours in a death van, still zero calories consumed.  I did not want to walk up and find out they do not accept foreigners so I kept walking, hoping to find one that says “foreigners accepted.”

I finally find a guy who does the mime for “hotel” and I am all “sure!”  He takes me to this place.  We walk up stairs and he calls to a woman who comes out.  She shows me two rooms.  One is a shared bathroom, one is private.  Private please!  I pay the 100 RMB (about $16 USD) and then begin to realize I do not want to stay here. The room was gross, which is fine.  The beds are clean, who cares about the walls.  Okay I know a lot of people care about the walls. Maybe you are licking walls as entertainment, but I am not.

shitty room dege walls

But the bathroom. Why did I not look at this?  Oh dear.  This is the bathroom.

dege disgusting bathroomI sit on my bed, clutching my adorable stuffed dog and ask him what I should do. He suggests I should eat something because obviously the fact that I have had a full day and have not yet eaten, plays a huge part in me accepting this room.

I go out of the room and ask for the WiFi password and I swear the woman laughs at me as she is shaking her head “no.”  This is the final straw, I am not staying here.

I leave my crap here and go outside to find a new room.  It hits me that I did not lock the door, nor was I handed a key. I ask for a key.  “No key.”  Oh you are fucking kidding me.   Meanwhile, the irony of this is that this woman is actually mopping the hallway during this conversation.  Here’s a hint: TRY MOPPING THAT DISGUSTING BATHROOM IN MY ROOM.

I leave my stuff in my unlocked room because honestly at this point, I would rather it be stolen than to carry it up 982374837 staircases in Dege before I find a hotel that allows foreigners. Seriously, there were zero hotels that had a lobby on the ground floor.  They were all up staircases.

It has stopped raining but Dege is a mess today.  There is mud everywhere, in inches.  But they are also redoing the main (only?) street in the town so there is wet cement, dust, jackhammering, missing sidewalks, missing street and a HUGE traffic jam that passengers cannot even get past because a cement truck has shut down the entire town.

dege streetsThis is unfortunate because Dege seems really pretty.

dege river tibet chinadege prayer flags behind tibetan architecturedege mountain viewI find one  hotel, walk up to the second floor and the entry door is locked.  There was an adorable dog on the mat outside the door. I went to pet it and it bit me.  Okay, this is not the hotel for me.

I find another one.  I walk up two flights of stairs and I see the bathroom door open.  It makes the one in my room look clean.  So this is also not the hotel for me.

I find a third hotel but it is across the street from the traffic jam so even if I do find a way there right now, I will not be able to get through with my luggage.

NEXT!  I find a fancy looking hotel.  SO FANCY I LOVE YOU.  But the entire ground in front of it is ripped up and the only way to get to the hotel is to walk over a wooden plank that does not look like it would support my weight.

Then I see a sign for a hotel that looks fancy and BONUS – is on the river.  I go around the corner and cannot find any English sign like I saw from the street. There were so many hotel entrances here but none of them with lobbies on the ground floor.  Just photos of beds and stairs for you to walk up and find someone.  Which one is the nice one I saw from the street?  Is it this one?  Or this one?  Wait, this one has an elevator…oh my god what is THAT?!?
prayer flags hotelI have found my hotel. I do not know the name of it, but I am inside of it right now.  I don’t even know how much it costs.  She showed me 190 RMB ($30.59 USD) but then asked for 390 RMB ($62.79 USD) so either I paid $200 deposit I will get back tomorrow, or I paid 390 RMB for this room.  I do not fucking care.

I checked in, went back to the other place to get my stuff.  When I walked in, I realized I had left the bathroom door open. Oh the stench.  Oh we have GOT TO GO.  I left without saying anything.  The woman had her back to me, still mopping the same spot in the hallway she had been mopping two hours earlier.  Best choice of thing to obsessively clean in this place.

I am now showered with water that was too hot (this is not a complaint) and wearing hotel slippers that are actual slippers and not shared shower shoes described as slippers, and I have the fastest WiFi I have had since I left home.  Excellent end to a shitty start.

I am not entirely sure if I will be able to get to Yushu tomorrow, like I would like to do.  I am not entirely sure I can get there at all from here.  Which may make you wonder why I am here.  I am with you on this one.  I don’t know if I should try to find a shared taxi at 6:00 am?  Like do I really want to wake up and go strolling looking for a minivan at 6:00 if they do not leave until noon?  No one knows what time they start collecting people, not even GOOGLE knows for crissfuckingsakes.  But I will figure it out.  As always.  And if not, I can still go back to Chengdu and try out my “spend twenty days in a hostel eating Subway” plan.