It was a solid drive to Rongbuk but after just a couple of hours outside of Sakya we were treated to our first glimpse of Mount Everest. Between Sakya and Rongbuk it was very dry and arid, we stopped in a small village for lunch, passed farmers doing donougts in older tractors over their barley straw and crossed a passed with the highest toilet (according to our guide) in the world at 5,248m.
Although it had been a clear day by the time we arrived at Rongbuk the clouds started to drift in and our view of Everest was at some times obscured. At 5,128m it was windy and cold but this didn’t take away from the amazing view of Mount Everest from the north base camp. There were hundreds of prayer flags flapping viciously in the wind and I was able to offer some here as well that I had brought with me from Lhasa.
On the way back to our guesthouse our guide took me inside a small retreat cave that was kept by a monk and his wife. After entering through the first door we climbed down a ladder into a small cave where the monk was doing his practice and his wife was lighting hundreds of Yak Butter Candles. My guide and I both offered some candles and thanked them for letting us visit.
Back at the guesthouse after dinner I braved the freezing temperatures outside to try and take some long exposure photos of Rongbuk Monastery, Mount Everest and some star trails. It sounded like there were wild dogs all around, barking and howling. I found a small ruined building with walls eroded to the height of my shoulder’s where I could set up my camera and then hid from the wind and the dogs. I stay out for about forty-five minutes before the cold and fear of the dogs got to me and I headed back inside.
The following morning we made for the Chinese border town of Zhangmu which is on the other side of the Himalayan range and was a full day’s drive. Once at Nyalam the road just drops down through the gorge, the road between Nyalam at 3,750m and Zhangmu at 2,300m has the largest vertical elevation within the shortest distance of any road in the world. It was hear the next morning we said our good byes to our guide and then crossed over by foot to Nepal and then jeep to Kathmandu.