Lhasa to Kathmandu—a cycle ride
In September 2000 my dad and I set off to cycle across the main spine of the Himalayas—a 1000 km trip from Lhasa, the capital of Chinese occupied Tibet, via Everest Base Camp, to Kathmandu in Nepal. Landing in Lhasa, at 3650 m above sea level, was the first shock. I was breathless after climbing a single flight of stairs. We spent three days there acclimatising. With the Chinese occupation great care was needed. Mentioning the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist leader, could land you in prison. Every publicly accessible room in The Potala—the palace of the Dalai Lama— has walls that both see and hear. The Tibetans leave money on the shrines in every room they enter in the belief that they will be rewarded in the afterlife, seemingly indifferent that the money actually goes to the Chinese government.
After three days of the bustling city it was a