Zhangmu


We drove most of the day about six hours from Tingri to the border town of Zhangmu. On the way we drove over two high passes over 5,000 meters. At the last one, our guide said, Good-bye, Tibet. The wind was blowing hard; we had our hats, gloves and down jackets on. Before us was an array of mountain peaks covered with clouds. There were several automatic prayer wheels, meaning the prayer wheels had been equipped with fins or cups so they rotated by themselves in the wind. The top of the pass was strung with the now familiar prayer flags, cotas and related colorful debris. Beyond the mountains was a valley. The wind and clouds blew up from the valley.
Good-bye, Tibet. We drove into the valley and descended at a rapid pace. The dry rock, sand and stone gave way to vegetation and water. We began to see birds. Farmers had green crops growing on their plots. There was the never ending road construction, but now there was heavy equipment.
We plummeted furter and it began to rain, a slow drizzle. I could feel my sinuses relax as they soaked in the humidity. The road followed a deep gorge. Mist and fog covered verdant, green peaks. Eventually we made it to Zhangmu, a small border town clinging to the side of the cliff.
We stayed at a guesthouse. In the morning, we had breakfast and got in line to go through Chinese customs. Our Jeep drivers took us as far as they could. We hiked the remaining 5 kilometers into Nepal.

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