Tag Archives: Tibet

Lijiang, China: Round Bed, Choking on Altitude and Getting Westernered

Upon arrival in Lijiang, I was picked up by a driver my hotel set up for free, and I was brought to my hotel.  I am staying at Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel.  When I had booked it, I picked it because it had round beds and I had always wanted to sleep in a round bed.

Shortly after booking, I got an email letting me know that there is going to be construction going on during the day…my heart sank as I thought this was going to continue to tell me that the room is now not available.  But it was!  I had a reduced rate because of the construction. YAY ROUND BED!

round bed

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The room was really nice.  It was Tibetan style.

Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel Lijiang China Tibetan sink Xi Tang Exquisite Hotel Lijiang room xi tang exquisite hotel lijiang window

I was brought to my room by a woman who I assume is the owner,  She pulls out a map that is the size of my bed, and shows me how to walk to the old town.  She shows me the nearby school on the map that I can use as landmark if I get lost, and gave me the WiFi password.  I truly appreciated this.  This may be the first time in China where I was actually given a map and shown how to walk to anything.  Oh plus the WiFi password.  I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back downstairs and ask because I never remember when checking in.

Lijiang was a struggle for me with altitude.  I felt fine for the most part, but stairs and sleeping were difficult.  Actually scratch that.  Stairs were difficult.  Sleeping was a literal nightmare.  When you sleep, you breathe in deeply.   But when you are in high altitude, you cannot breathe in deeply and you start to choke.  And your brain thinks you are dying so you wake up shaking with your heart pounding, because you are dying.  The sleeping part was so much better on day two.  Walking through Lijiang Ancient Town was a bit slow for me because I kept getting tired.  But there are plenty of places to sit and ignore all the people staring at you by playing with your phone.

I got lost twice in Lijiang.  Okay three times.  But one was my own fault.  Okay all three were my own fault.

The streets of Lijiang are a wonderful place to get lost in.  They are so pretty.

Lijiang China pretty flowerslijiang flowers chinaroof top bar lijiang china1stone bridge lijiang china

I surprisingly found the area I was looking for pretty easily.   I was shocked to end a maze of old streets with a square that had a Haagen Dazs, KFC and not one, but two McDonalds.

I had wanted to go to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain but with the altitude kicking my ass, I thought that might not be the best of ideas.

I spent at least an hour walking around trying to find the tea bar on my map that was listed as “Waste of Life.”  I thought I could post a photo of the sign on Instagram with the message “I am with my people!” But since I never found it, you will have to appreciate my cleverness without an accompanied image.

Lijiang is happening at night.  There was one bar that was blasting techno music that I found extremely hilarious because the lyrics were things like “Shake that ass”and “Get on the fucking dance floor” being repeated over and over. No one batted an eye.  I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that very few, if any, people understood the lyrics.

Lijiang China night

Lijiang China at nightLijiang is full of places selling fresh squeezed fruit juice and my hotel was right next door to a store that sold large yogurt drinks.  I probably ate healthier here than anywhere else in the world.  This includes my own apartment.

I had never heard of Lijiang before booking this trip.   So I was a bit surprised at the hotel prices when I first began searching.  They were higher than Dali or Shangrila.  But now that I have been there, I understand. It didn’t actually feel like a real place. It felt like a fabricated sort of amusement park with a China section that was man made to look like a stereotype of China.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was real.  This is a real city.  It was not constructed with an engineer following blueprints drawn up at a CEO for an amusement park’s directions.

If I were to come back here, I would spend a full week so I could be completely adjusted to the altitude and take the ride up the cable car to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  I am also a bit bummed that I could also not go see the Lijiang Impressions Show.  Okay maybe bummed is probably not the right word, given the elation I felt once I convinced myself that by not going, I could instead, stay in an air conditioned room and breathe.

Lijiang was also the hottest city so far in the trip, with temperatures in the 90’s.  the only time I like the 90s is when I flash back and talk about life in my twenties.

Black Dragon Pool.  This photo was the first thing I saw when I did research on Lijiang.  Of course I wanted to go here and take one myself.  I guess that the time of year makes a difference because in the photos I saw online, the background mountains were reflected in the water.  Not when I was here.  Still a beautiful sight though.

black dragon pool in lijiang china

Somewhere while walking through this area, I of course got “Westernered.”  This is when people get overjoyed to see you and take photos of you with them.  I hate this so much but you kind of have to just let it happen or you will drive yourself insane with trying to avoid it.

Later on, I was sitting on a bench and I hear “OH FOREIGNER” and I look up and see two Western girls in complete fits of laughter as they mime taking my photo.

I also saw what I guess is China’s version of a dollar store.  No idea why this amused me so much:
dollar store Lijiang China

And then there were the waterwheels that are a big attraction in Lijiang.  I honestly didn’t see the big deal. They were much smaller than I imagined.  Actually, when I first saw them, I somehow thought they were an entrance to THE water wheels.  As if that even makes sense?  Sigh.
Lijiang China water wheels (2)

Ganzi, Tibet: A Nice Place to Visit, but I Don’t Want to Live Here.

I am sitting here on my hotel bed typing this out.  My laptop is the only thing warm in this room and I am using it as a heater on my feet as I sit Indian style.  To my right is the sound of thunder and lightning shaking my windows, to my left is the sound of the shower dripping as a reminder that I now have not showered in two days.  Or maybe the five or six flies buzzing all around me are the reminder.  I don’t really know anymore. I do know that I am putting off showering today because I want to wait until the very last minute to discover that once again I do not have hot water.  I have already verified I have no heat.  I did not expect to.  Actually, if we are going to list things I was not expecting, let us put “spending yet ANOTHER night in Ganzi” at the top of the list.

See, I am an independent woman who travels solo.  I speak online with a lot of women who are scared to take the leap.  My signature stance is that:  if you are temporarily lost, just get in a taxi back to your hotel.  Problem solved.  No one has ever had to relocate and live in a city they traveled to because they got lost and could not get out.   But I now live in Ganzi.  Because I cannot get out.

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I started out in Ganzi about a week ago.  It was an intended stop to take a detour to Larung Gar, which was the purpose of this entire trip.

(YOU GUYS! LOOK AT LARUNG GAR!)

larung gar buddhist institute tibet

My first stop here in Ganzi was after a ten hour bus ride from Kangding.  I am still a bit miffed about my Kangding hostel insisting I take the 9:00 bus instead of the 6:00 bus because the 6:00 doesn’t exist as I was told, and it does.  Or that the ride is only about six hours, and it most certainly is not. Which is what I knew before I left, but was swayed by thinking someone who lives here would know better.

So when I arrived in a horrible rain storm, I cursed my Kangding hostel because had I taken the 6:00 bus, it may have not been impossible to see one inch in front of my fogged up glasses.

I knew about two decent hotels here.  But both required me to exit the bus station, which I could not do since I could not see through the pouring rain.  Because this is China, and you cannot get off any sort of public transportation without someone in your face yelling stuff at you, I had a woman who did not yell at me, but who gestured “sleep” to me.   I ignored her at first because I wanted to stay in a pre-reviewed hotel.  But after ten or so minutes of trying to not be soaked by standing under an awning, I realized I would either have to go out in the rain that made it impossible to see, or go wherever this woman was going to take me. I went with her.

She led me up a staircase that was about ten feet from where the bus had parked.  This was fun. I wish I had pictures of this.  When we got to the top, there were some couches and some outlets that had burn marks all up the wall from them.

She led me to a private room and gestured “five” with her fingers.  50 RMB.  Approximately $8 USD.  The walls were filthy, but the room was clean, as was the bed.

ganzi hotel 1 walls

bus station hotel ganzi china

If you are curious about where to find this hotel, I took a photo from my room.  That staircase with the blue writing above it is the entrance.  There is no English or any indication there is a hotel up there.

bus station hotel entrance ganzi chinaI tried asking where the bathroom was and she did not understand me.  She brought some guy over and he didn’t understand me either.  I tried “toilet” and got nothing.  So obviously let me go more complicated and ask “water closet.”  Not surprising, nothing. I asked both of them “please do not make me mime this” as they stood there silent.  FINE.  I motioned by crossing my hands over myself and bent over like a three  year old who has to pee.  OOOOHHHH!   Instantly they both knew what I meant and I was escorted to a shared squat toilet.

I am well aware that  you cannot travel to Tibet and complain about squat toilets.  Oh, Jennifer from Brooklyn is coming to visit?  Let us redo all our plumbing and install Western amenities for her!   No.

But I can prefer a Western toilet, even at a higher cost.

After a couple of hours, the rain slowed to a drizzle and I went out to buy an umbrella and of course, milk tea.  I spotted a Golden Yak hotel that was on the opposite side of the bus station from me. I couldn’t see it before because blinding rain.  I knew I would be checking in there the next morning.  This is a chain that offers Western toilets.

The next morning, I ran across the parking lot and checked in.  I meet a guy in the lobby who speaks English. Paul from Singapore. He offers me the holy grail, a ride to Sertar. In an 18 passenger van that him and his family are traveling in. At this point. I had just checked into a Western hotel and wanted to reap the amenities and politely declined. Huge mistake.

I get to my room and there is my beloved Western toilet.  That will not flush.  Oh fuck you. At least I have a shower that actually has a wall and will not soak the entire bathroom.  WRONG. The part of the door that actually closes has been removed.   Thanks, China!

golden yak ganzi shower

The walls are also filthy in this hotel.  I did not take a photo because at the time I was unaware that I would be starting a series.

I spent the day sulking in bed, reading a book. I went out late afternoon and braved the rain for as long as I could handle the staring. Like literally traffic stops for westerners here so that everyone in the over packed cars and vans can get a good look at you.  I got a couple of nice photos though.

ganzi tibet chinasuspension bridge ganzi tibet china

When I checked out the next day, a woman kept trying to give me back 100 RMB.  I think she thought I paid a deposit.  I hadn’t.  She kept motioning to me for a pink deposit slip, which I did not have because I did not pay a deposit.  The rates on the wall were 200 RMB, which I paid.

So she hands me a notebook and motions for me to write in there. So I wrote “I have no idea why I am writing in this book” and she keeps trying to give me 100 RMB.  I keep insisting “no” and she won’t stop so eventually I take it.  So by this happening, my room now cost 100 RMB, which was a much fairer price than 200 RMB so whatever.

I returned to Ganzi after Sertar. You have to come back to continue to Yushu, where I am flying out of Tibet from. This time I tried the Hotel Himalaya. This involved picking up some random stranger to show my minivan driver the way. I could not figure out how to enter the hotel. Then a Westerner dude saw me and told me in English where to go. Up a ramp, high altitude, I can’t breathe.

When I got to the top, a woman automatically appears, takes my luggage and brings me to a room. She motions to wait and I sit on the bed heaving from the walk up the ramp. She comes back with a registration form and a piece of paper showing me 200 RMB. Wifi and Western toilet, sign me up.

I did not realize the toilet would look like this:

ganzi hotel 3 toilet

By now, I expected the walls to be looking like this and I was not disappointed.

ganzi hotel 3 wallThe next morning, I walk to the bus station. I strike out with everything I ask for. Manigango, Dege, Sershul, Yushu. The woman answers “no” to everything I ask, and instantly turns her head away from me so I have to yell “NI HAO” to get her to turn back around so I can ask for a new town, only to be told no.  I don’t know if she means there is no bus today (they leave early morning) or if she means it is sold out, or there is no bus at all, or if she just hates me.

Outside the bus station, I am approached by three English speaking people. Why I did not ask them to go inside the bus station and ask where the fuck buses go from here, I will never know.

On the walk back to my hotel, there are a bunch of mini van drivers yelling “Dege” at me so I decide I will stay here one more night and go to Dege tomorrow.

I go back to my hotel and Western boy from last night is there. Again, I should ask an English speaking person anything and dont. The woman who gave me my room comes up and I point down to motion I am staying here again and hand her 200 RMB and she nods.

I went to the store later on and when I stopped at the top of the ramp to breathe, she came out and handed me 80 RMB. So I guess you pay less if you spend two nights.

I went back Inside, psyched to take a shower and use a towel for the first time in days. No hot water. Argh.

I woke up this morning and took photos on my phone of things written in Tibetan. Yushu, Dege, Manigango, Sershul, and the word “tomorrow”. All I got at the bus station was a head shake “no” before the woman would turn away. This was so insanely frustrating. Like look at the fucking photo before telling me no. There are many places on the internet that say there is a daily bus to Yushu that stops in Manigango and she told me no for both Yushu and Manigango.

Next thing I know, I am standing in the bus station crying hysterically.

I calm down and as I walk out of the bus station, some guy yells “DEGE” in my face.  I want to convey that yes, I am going to Dege, but I have to go back and get my stuff from my hotel.  But I can’t so I just shake my head “no.”

I head back out and have someone yell “DEGE” at me.  A horseshoe forms around me of men trying to tell me something, I don’t know.  I keep saying “Dege” and some of them say “Dege” back and this gets boring to me.  Like let’s go.  Finally one steps up to the plate and pulls out his phone and shows me 2000 RMB. Oh fuck  you.  This ride should be no more than 120.  I burst through the horseshoe as they are all yelling ‘DEGE” at my back.  I resist the urge to give them all the finger.

Back to the minivan drivers by the bus station.  First try, I get a ride to Dege for 120 RMB.  I am taken to a minivan and put inside. After about an hour (of still sitting there) I am moved to a second minivan.  We wait about another hour.  A couple comes up, traveling to Dege.   So now we have three.  My driver motions that he is going to drive around the corner to see if there are more people and for me to stay here.  Okay.  As soon as he pulls away I start panicking because my stuff is in his van. I pull out my phone and text myself his license plate number and then continue to wonder why I did that, rather than run and pound on the window to get my stuff out.  I spend the next half hour begging him to come back.  I feel like I am going to vomit.  And during this time, everyone is starting at me, coming close to my face, talking to me in a language I do not understand, yelling “CHENGDU” in my face.

Finally the guy comes back and I am so relieved.  He motions for me to get in the van, which now has more people in it.  This is it, I think, I am finally leaving Ganzi.  My excitement grows as the van begins moving…and travels like the length of a city block before pulling into an alleyway.  The next thing I know, I am taken out of the van and replaced by 98347387438 monks.  Oh no you didn’t.

I try to get my bag out of the back (I am now fixated on keeping my stuff with me) and the driver is trying to tell me something, I don’t know what.  He keeps motioning to the corner, pointing at me, and making a “driving” motion with his hands. I don’t know if he is telling me someone is coming for me, someone is at the corner or what the fuck.  So I shoo him away and as soon as he is gone, I burst into tears.  I am stuck in Ganzi.  Again. I don’t know how to get out of here.

So as I am standing there crying, as an entertainment package to the locals who were already over excited just to see a Westerner, some guy comes running down the alley towards me yelling “Dege.”  Oh!  You are going to drive me to Dege!  I am so excited!  That driver totally did hook me up and not ditch me after I waited three hours to leave!

No.

This new guy takes my bag for me and as we are walking, he stops and make a motion that I have now become very familiar with, tilted head up against two hands together.  This is sign language for “hotel.”  OH HELL NO.  I am not sleeping in Ganzi.  I keep saying “Dege” and he keeps nodding yes, but making the sleeping motion and then saying “Dege.”

I am done.  I start crying.  I cannot spend another night in Ganzi. I cannot and I will not.  I am trying to compose myself.  The dude is walking with my bag and I am walking alongside him trying to stop crying.  We stop at a hotel and he brings my bag inside and I lose it.  I just fucking lose it. I am not fucking spending another night in Ganzi.  How the fuck do you get the fuck out of this fucking town if the bus goes nowhere and you cannot get a minivan to drive you further than one block away.  I cannot stay here.  I am in complete hysterics, I am yelling that I absolutely refuse to stay in this hotel.  I am not staying here, I am not.  I am getting out, get me the fuck out of here.

By now there are at least 25 people gathered all around me, trying to speak to me in a language that I do not understand.  I keep talking aloud to myself, saying over and over that no way in fucking hell am I spending another night here, get me the fuck out of here, I will go anywhere that is not here, get me out of here.

Somehow, some way, someone finds a woman who speaks English.  I tell her that i need to get out of here.  I keep having to stop myself from saying “before I kill myself” because this is Tibet and people self immolate themselves to protest China ruling over them.  She asks me where I want to go.  I want to go to Dege but I also offer that I will go to Manigango, which is much closer to Ganzi than Dege.  If that is as far as I can get, I will take it.  Just get me the fuck out of Ganzi NOW.

I think this was mistranslated because she secures me a ride to Manigango tomorrow.  No.  I don’t want to go to Manigango tomorrow.  I want to go right now.  I need to get out of Ganzi.  Now.  Today.  Get me OUT of here.

She is communicating with someone, while the crowd of now above 30 watches me wipe the snot off my face with my sleeve because I am still in hysterics.

The final solution was (maybe) that I will stay in this hotel that I am typing in right now and some guy will meet me outside tomorrow at 8:00 and drive me to Dege.  You might think I would be elated but I am not because the price is 120 RMB, which is the price of a shared minivan. Which means that he will have to fill the van, and we could have a repeat of today  I will never again in life be happy until I am at least 100 miles away from Dege.  I did not even want to come here at all, it was just a necessary stop to get to Larung Gar.  I saw Larung Gar.  I can leave here now, please let me leave here now.

I do not know what will happen if I do not get out of here tomorrow.  Will I pay some guy 2000 RMB to drive just me to Dege and then have to worry about getting to Yushu?  Or will I just quit and go back to Chengdu and change my flight and go home early?  Or will I go to Chengdu and keep my flight and sit in a hostel room eating Subway for twenty straight days?  God I would do anything for Subway right now.  Hold on, let me throw out the wrappers from my prepackaged croissants that have a 2014 expiration date on them.

Maybe I could jump out my hotel window and be air lifted out of here.  Key words: OUT OF HERE.  Hmm…

I do not know what will happen to me tomorrow.  I do know that since writing this out, I manned up and tried the shower and found hot water.  I am in bed all comfy and feel a lot better.  So hopefully, my mood stays up.  And maybe goes higher as Ganzi disappears in the rear view mirror of a minivan tomorrow.  Or maybe I will ride this guy out of town:

ganzi donkey

And of course, the walls in my fourth Ganzi hotel room.  What on earth are they doing in the rooms here?

ganzi hotel 4 wall

 

Update!  I escape Ganzi. Read more here.

Riding the World’s Highest Railway to Lhasa, Tibet, China

I took a 24 hour train ride from Xining, China to Lhasa, Tibet (also in China, although it does not want to be.)  This is the highest railway in the world and I had been dying to ride it for a long time.  It reaches its highest peak at 5,072 meters above sea level, which is 16,640 feet.

There are several places you can board a train to Lhasa.  I made a mistake in thinking Xi’an was the best choice as it was only 24 hours on a train (compared to Beijing at 42 and Chengdu at 43) but I was wrong.  Trains from Xi’an only run on odd days in the month I am traveling and I need to leave on an even day.  So I had to do a route with a one night “layover” in Xining.

Leaving Xining, I was at the train station really early.  I was sitting at an outdoor table, typing on my laptop.  I got interrupted by some guy who told me he was learning to speak English and wanted to practice with me.  This was painful for me because during this trip, I have indeed experienced people who just wanted to talk to me just because I am Western.  But then I had people who feigned interest in simply talking to a Westerner just to try and sell me something.  I was not in Xining long enough to figure out which one he was.  So my guard instantly went up when he sat down. It turned out he was genuine and really just wanted to speak English with a Westerner.

Once he left, his seat was taken by a woman who wanted the same thing.  She asked me if I knew her foreign language teacher “Laura? from Minneapolis?”  Oh YEAH!  Laura from Minneapolis!  Of course I (don’t) know her.  This woman was quite interesting to talk to though.  She had a baby with her.  Her Chinese doctor had told her while she was pregnant, that she should have an abortion because her baby had no heart.   She was understandably freaked out.  Good ol’ Laura from Minneapolis hooked her up with an American doctor at the Red Cross.  It turns out her baby was absolutely fine and had a heart.  I saw evidence of this as he was alive in front of me.  That is very scary to think about, how health care is in other countries.  This woman was advised to abort her perfectly healthy baby on the mistake of a doctor.

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Picking up my train ticket was a slight ordeal.  There is no English so you have to kind of guess where you are supposed to go.  Then you have to pass through security to enter the building, China standard everywhere, including their subway stations.  Then it’s the thing where you have to show all your paperwork proving you are allowed in Lhasa before getting your ticket.  Then you show that same paperwork to get into the train station (separate entrance from the ticket booth) and then again before boarding the train.

You cannot use laptops on this train because the altitude will fry them. So I typed this all out real time on my phone during the trip.  If you know me, you know the amount of time this took since typing on my phone is not my area of expertise.

I took 316 pictures total and will space them out in here, not in any chronological order.  Since I was on this train for 24 hours, I will post 24 photos.

That said, here we go!  LOOK!  SHEEP!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

We are half an hour into our ride and I have cramps that I am sure is a sign of altitude sickness and I am going to die.

Sigh.

The train. Oh lord the train. The train itself is a maniac. People pushing and shoving in the tiny hallway. I am directed to the wrong bed and now have to go back against traffic.

I have a middle bed. Not happening. No one offers to help with my luggage. No one is obligated to.  But I cannot lift my bag that high up.  Not because it is too heavy, but because I am not tall enough. At this point, the luggage rack is full. It is also at the very top of the cabin so even if it was empty, I could not deal.  So I put my bag and my backpack and my messenger bag on my bed. Between that and the pillow and super thick, rolled up comforter, there is now no space on the bed for me.

I am not even sure why, but I attempt climbing in. Cannot do it. I don’t even know how to do this.  This sets off a huge chain of events.

The hallway is still a maniac. I am in the way of someone trying to enter my cabin. Someone, I am not even sure who, puts my luggage up top. Some woman starts barking through me. The next thing I know, there are now new people trying to barge into my cabin.  But they are all trying to convey something to me.  Holy crap, what do you want?!?

That barking woman, god bless her. She got someone to switch beds with me so I have a bottom bed in a different cabin. I love you.

I am now the star of train carriage number 15. Everyone jumps into action to move me and my stuff to my new bed. Lots of foreign language being yelled as everyone watches me intently.  I don’t even care what they were saying. I now have a bottom bed!

hard sleeper bottom bunk china train to lhasa

One younger guy escorts me in and explains something to the people in my new cabin (I never want to know what) and I shih shih the hell out of him. A few minutes later, barking woman stops by to check on me. Thank you, I love you!

This train so far is so much better than my last one. There is air conditioning. I think it may even get cold later!

There is also oxygen for the high altitude:

oxygen oxygen

We have to fill out forms certifying we are cleared by a doctor to visit the high altitude (I am not but of course I lie and say I am.)  There was a whole list of conditions you are not allowed to have. One was Schizophrenia. Good thing I don’t have that.

Me: Are you sure? You do seem to talk to yourself a lot

Me: That doesn’t count because I am talking to me

Me: But Schizophrenia = voices in your head and I am a voice in your head

Me: But you are me

Me: But I am a voice

Me: You won’t be much longer if you keep this up

Me: Are you threatening me? Isn’t that something a Schizophrenic would do? Act out violently because of voices in your head?

Me: Do you want to get off this train and go back to the hostel that smells like elephant poop?

Me: No

Me: WELL THEN SHUT UP ALREADY

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

I am now 65 minutes into this trip and there is one guy who has been right outside my cabin, watching me the entire time. Its fine though. I have a bottom bed!

We are now two hours in; it is going faster than I thought it would. I have already taken a hundred photos.  A guy in my cabin alerted me when the scenery was outside the window on the other side. Thanks Guy!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

The sun was burning through the window. When I got back to my bed, it was like a cool cave I love my bottom bed!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Three hours down! I killed the last one listening to my favorite song on repeat. It is three minutes long so I just counted to 20 and bam! Hour gone.

There are people in here eating awful smelling food and I am about to unleash an allergy attack on them. Side note: autocorrect tried to make me type “attack on Iran”. What a jerk.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Five hours down! My cabin is a revolving hang out. New people come in and sit down all the time. I caught one talking about me, she gestured towards me and I saw it. I shot her a death look and she looked humiliated. I don’t feel bad.

In one hour, I am going to pee and get ready for bed. This has been my plan since before I got on this train.

I hope any of my sheep and yak photos come out okay!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Six hours down! I got up to use the bathroom and came back to a cabin full of women; all of who I don’t think are sleeping here. There is just nowhere for anyone to go. I feel like every person on this train knows every other person except for me.

One more hour until lights out and my bed will be all mine again! Bottom bed! Yay!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Sixteen hours in. I got up at 3:00 am to use the bathroom and to try and figure out if I am dying from High Altitude Sickness or if I am just a hypochondriac.  That and the guy in the bed next to mine will never stop snoring

I got up a second time in the middle of the night just because it’s hot in a cabin with six people giving off body heat. Snorey McSnorenson started yelling in his sleep between snores. That sucked too.

I need to be in a private room with a western toilet and some milk tea.

I saw some woman who was really sick, being carried through the train. That was scary.

I am still trying to judge if I have any symptoms of altitude sickness. I think any minor thing bothering me can be explained by something else. Like this nausea could be from inhaling the bathroom. It is so gross.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Just a little over seven hours left!

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Five hours left. I am not going to make it. I haven’t breathed fresh air in what feels like days.

I saw the nearly passed out woman again. She has a personal oxygen mask now.

My hips and knees are in pain. The only place to stand is by the foul bathrooms. If I just sit on my bed, then it becomes party central in here and I can’t breathe. If I lay down, it hurts.  I need to get off this train. I made a mistake. Please let me off.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Just under three hours left!  It has occurred to me that I have no idea who is meeting me in Lhasa. I hope there is a sign with my name on it.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

Last half hour! The police came on at some point, not sure why. They checked random ID’s, but not mine. I thought that was weird since I had to show paperwork three times just to board the train.

Made one last bathroom trip. One of the toilets (squat, naturally) was overflowing with poop water, all over the floor and out into the walkway.

All I want is bed. Oh and water. Trying to purchase it got me a pack of tomatoes. No joke.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet

And now I am in Lhasa!  I have never been more grateful to not be on a train any longer.  We arrived ten minutes early. I did not know where to go or who to meet.  I got pulled aside by the police so they could check my paperwork and verify I am allowed to enter Tibet.

I found my guide, who was with another chick who was also on my train and is part of my tour group.  She is from Canada but is living in Denmark.  This alone makes her more interesting than me.

World's highest train ride to Lhasa, TibetWorld's highest train ride to Lhasa, TibetWorld's highest train ride to Lhasa, Tibet