There are just a few little things I’d like to share that aren’t really sufficient for individual posts but also don’t flow as a single concept, so I’ve grouped them together here:
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept of the squat toilet, however I doubt many of you have experienced the group bonding variety that appears the higher (and thus more remote) you get in Tibet. I’ll just make it clear at the outset that these toilets were at least thankfully single-sex. At first the toilets lost their ceramic surrounding and became the literal ‘hole in the floor’ – fine, it makes little difference. They then become holes in the floor separated by low partitions with no door – oh well, since you have to squat anyway you can’t see your neighbour and you just choose the one furthest from the main door. Finally you lose the partitions along with any sense of privacy, ah group bonding at its finest! At least these are sometimes accompanied by fine mountain views.
Diamox the wonder drug
So people say that you will naturally acclimatise to altitude, give it a few days and drink plenty of water. These people clearly have not experienced the hammering headaches and sleepless nights of altitude sickness. Although it probably is true, when you’ve only got a few days and you want to enjoy yourself rather than feel like a zombie, diamox is the key! I thank the scientists who formulated this wonderful drug, I have never appreciated the blissful feeling of sinking into a peaceful sleep quite so much. My advice: don’t stick it out, bow to western medicine, those scientists have worked hard to make your life easy! (You may experience sporadic pins and needles in your hands and feet but the pros definitely outweigh the cons).
I realise I have already mentioned this in passing but as I lay here with the sweet smell of burning yak dung wafting past my nose I am reminded just how useful it is. Yak dung is an essential antidote to the cold mountain evening. The six of us in our guesthouse huddled around the iron stove last night, cheering as the lovely Nepalese lady who runs the place lit the yak dung (a feat that eluded the three western guys in the group) providing us with warmth for the night.
Shortly after writing the previous paragraph we were once again lounging around the iron stove when everything around us began to tremble. As the fixtures on the wall began to shake we hastily shoved our feet into our boots and escaped outside. Thankfully there was no damage done in our vicinity (Kyanjin Gompa in the North of Nepal) and a slight rumble is as scary as it got for us.