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Travel in Tibet (4): Fighting the Altitude Sickness

The Fourth Day

In the morning, Xiaoyu’s sister in law walked in our room, worried. Xiaoyu got a fever last night and it seemed that a hospital visit would be necessary. Wucong suggested a couple of places where Xiaoyu could go for the treatment in Lhasa. I started to feel sorry for her. Our road trip to Ali region was about to debut and we would reach 5000m very soon, what a pity if Xiaoyu couldn’t make it.  It was  her who organized the trip after all. She deserved a chance.

In the noon time, our drivers picked us up. The two SUVs were fully loaded by the luggage and we squeezed in to save the space for others. It was really tight indeed.  In China, there is an old saying: three women can play a show… Since we had eight ladies, I snickered:” we are going to play a great show together …”  Finally, we departed. At the Yarlung Tsangpo river, Xiaoyu joined others in photo taking just as usual. It seemed that she was fine then.  The car continued to climb up to the 5000 meters above the sea level, where we got to the Yamdrok lake. Just as how it was praised,  the lake was breathtakingly stunning. A minute ago, we were whining about getting hungry, but then, the only feeling we had was the amazement.  Pictures and words just couldn’t show the beauty of the lake.

Walking at such a high altitude place is strenuous, especially for a person who is not in her perfect health condition. Xiaoyu got sick, seriously, this time. We decided to have lunch nearby to give her sometime to recover.

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Unfortunately, even with the oxygen and anti-high altitude medications, Xiaoyu was getting worse. She had to terminate her trip,  right away.  Luckily, a driver heading for Lhasa offered to take Xiaoyu back, as his minivan still had one seat left. Everyone felt relieved, except Xiaoyu’s sister in law. Panic and worried, she couldn’t feel right to let Xiaoyu go alone.  She tried to persuade others to let them take one of our two hired cars back to Lhasa. She didn’t succeed, as others were already upset by  the fact that only Xiaoyu needed to go.  What’s more, the team agreement was to share all the expenses on the road. With both of them departing, the share of the car hire would increase significantly for others.  Girls started to whisper, and, Dengfenglai couldn’t hold herself anymore and blurted out: if they both leave, only Caiyu and I are going to share one car’s expense… That couldn’t happen!”  “Don’t worry, we share the two car expense evenly” Wucong and I consoled her right away, which calmed her down a little bit, though not completely.

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Knowing that taking one of our two cars back was a tough sell, Xiaoyu’s sister in law started to make calls and finally  arranged a car to get them back to Lhasa, we left, relieved, though it meant that our budget would go high with their departure. But, it made sense, anyway.  Wucong, Caiyu, and Deingfenglai sat in one car, Chujiand, Yujian, and I got in another car, we departed for Xigaze. It was already 5pm. The drivers called a few lodges in Xigaza then realized that all hotels were already sold out because of Panchen Lama’s visit! Where to stay, we worried. Last time, when I was in Quito, my trip didn’t get in trouble because of Papa Francisco’s visit. But, this time it seemed that I didn’t have that kind of luck any more.

Already 10pm at night, we were still not in Xigaze. Chujian started to look for hotels on the road, using the Baidu map. I found it pretty funny that many people give too much trust in today’s technologies, such as Baidu or Google. Actually, these internet things are just tools that have many flaws. For instance, Baidu did show numerous hotels, even hotel chains, along the road we were driving, where it was completely dark at night. To me, this must be a bug, I shrugged it off. But to Chujian, she would rather trust Baidu than what we saw with our own eyes. She kept complaining the car ahead of us not even stopping to check out the lodging options while trying her luck with the Baidu map persistently.

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When we got to Xigaze, all hotels were sold out with no surprise. We walked in a bath center. The owner simply indicated that we could either pay, 185 RMB per bed, or walk away. With no other options, we took the offer and walked inside. Lots of beds were placed in a huge lunge and there were male and female guests. I got to say that the feeling was quite awkward. Good thing was that the beds were pretty clean and guests were very quite. What else could I ask for at the middle of night?

Going through so many things in a day, I started to feel headache and struggled most of the night to fall asleep. This was exhausting indeed.

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Travel in Tibet 3: Getting Ready for the Road Trip

In the early morning, it started to rain, heavily. Not really feeling myself,  I decided to stay in bed and let my mind and body fully recover from the  high altitude sickness.  ‘Did Xiayu go to the Potala place as planned?’ I was wondering, half-awake. She was already not feeling well last night, visiting the place in the rain would be really daunting…

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Around noon time, my energy finally boosted up. I decided to visit a well known local restaurant, Xueyu Café. By the time I sat down at the table and took a look at WeChat, my feed was already flooded with Xiaoyu’s pictures of the Potala Palace. I was surprised she went.   Hopefully, she was feeling ok. I messaged the whole group and invited them all to have a lunch here. In no time, Xiaoyu’s party, her sister in law and her best friend Caiyun, replied my message. They were joining me.  However, the moment they walked in the resteraunt, Xiaoyu started to feel nauseous. They went back to the guest house right away. Eating alone was boring, so I decided to wait a little longer. Happily,  Wucong and Dengfenglai joined me. We had the Tibetan yogurt cake, the barley cake, and the yolk meat. Honestly, the yak meat was bland, and a little disappointing, but the yogurt and barley  cakes were really good. After lunch, we went to Wucong’s buddy’s studio. Dengfenglai picked a pretty Tibetan costume and dressed up the way she had dreamed of doing.  In the full costume, Dengfenglai walked with me around the Sera Monastery, a well known place to watch lama debate.

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It seemed that Xiaoyu was down, so her sister in law stepped up and messaged the whole group to meet our drivers.  At the first sight of the middle man, I started to worry. He didn’t look like he could be trusted to me… the way he kept smiling at all of us was unnerving, but his eyes was not sending the same message…  I couldn’t help questioning his credibility. Anyway, I  just wanted to  follow the leader, make friends and relax.  I blocked my uneasy thoughts and started to chat with the newly arrived team mates: Chujian and Yujian. Chujian and Yujian were close friends who grew up together . Although they shared no blood relations, they looked like sisters, even twins.  Chujian had a boyish type of character, while Yujian was a very lady-like girl. These two seemed very likeable to me.

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The Fourth Day

Xiaoyu was out of the game.

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Eight Reasons to Road Trip Through Oman

Few countries can spark the imagination much like Oman. Located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a land of vast deserts and beautiful beaches. It’s also full of friendly towns and lush oases. Leafcanoer, blogfromtheblue, recently posted about their travels to Oman in the leaf, “A scenic drive along the coastal road from Muscat to Sur.” As any visitor to Oman can attest, one of the best ways to see the country is by car. Here are eight reasons why you should road trip through Oman.

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The coastal scenery
Oman’s coastline stretches across over three thousand kilometers of beaches and rocky shores. There are a handful of beaches to visit and take in the scenery. Al Bustan Beach, located in Muscat, overlooks the mountains, while Dhofar beach has a number of lagoons filled with flamingos.

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The surreal landscape
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Oman is also home to the largest expanse of desert in the Arabian Peninsula. This desert is known as “The Empty Quarter,” and stretches out over more than 400,000 kilometers of land. Other notable areas of desert include A’Sharqiyah Sands, as well as Ramlat Tawq, an area filled with beautiful sand dunes.

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The wadis
Scattered throughout Oman are small oases, known as wadi in Arabic. These areas consist of small patches of greenery surrounding fresh water. Driving through Oman, you are sure to come across a wadi during your travels. Wadis worth visiting are Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, located near Muscat. Another wadi to visit is Bimmah Sinkhole, which is connected to the sea through an underground tunnel.

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The towns
From the capital of Muscat, to the southern city of Salalah, taking a road trip through Oman lets you explore the vast diversity of towns throughout the country. The bustling city of Muscat is filled with white buildings, palm trees, and well-tended gardens. The coastal town of Sur, on the otherhand, has a more laid back beach town vibe.

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The camping
One thing to keep in mind when embarking on a road trip through Oman is having a place to rest your head for the night. Aside from nature reserves, private establishments, and military bases, it’s easy to camp anywhere along the road. If you are interested in more specific camping areas, one such place is the A’Sharqiyah Sands, which stretches out over tenthousand kilometers, and is known to be one of the most beautiful camping areas in Oman.

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The people
Unlike traveling through a country by plane, taking a road trip through a country really gives you a closer glimpse of the people of that country. The majority of Omanis are of Arab descent, but there is also a large South Asian as well as African population within Oman.

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The pace of travel
Traveling across a country by car forces you to slow down the pace. Rather than jetting from one city to another, you can take your time and enjoy the places that you come across on your travels. This gives you a chance to get to know the tribal culture of Oman, as well as its rich maritime history.

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The lure of the open road
Oman’s roads have gone through a number of renovations the past few years. Many of the country’s roads are paved, which makes it easier for cars to traverse through the area and explore. Many travelers to Oman opt to road trip through the country, so you will undoubtedly be in good company.

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Whether you are taking a short jaunt from Muscat to Sur, or traversing through the whole coast of Oman, there are plenty of reasons to take a road trip through Oman. To get you started on your own road trip, download the LeafCanoe app and check out blogfromtheblue’s leaf.

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Visit 50+ cities in US: A 3 Month American Road Trip in Action

There is something exhilarating about a road trip. No matter where you go in the world, traveling across a country brings with it a sense of freedom and excitement, coupled with the uncertainty of exploring the unknown. One of the best countries to road trip through is the United States. With its mix of interstate freeways and state highways, and an abundance of attractions from the kitschy to the breathtaking, an American road trip is certainly something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

We recently met up with travel blogger and LeafCanoer, Dan McElroy, who runs the travel blog, Searching For Your Zen. Having spent the last two years backpacking through Europe, teaching English in China, and traveling through Asia, Dan is currently on an American road trip. We sat down with Dan to talk about his travels, his blog, and his tips for doing an American road trip.

What’s the meaning behind “Searching For Your Zen”?
“Searching For Your Zen” was the result of a quarter-life crisis. I had just jumped into the “Corporate World” of the US with aspirations of climbing the ladder and being successful. When I lost my job unexpectedly and with no warning I was forced to re-consider my life and my own definition of “success.” After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change in my life. I was tired of chasing society’s dream and decided I wanted to travel. It was in the moments leading up to a solo 3 month trip to Europe that I started “Searching For Your Zen“. I was on a new adventure in life and my only goal was to be happy again.

What do you look for when you travel?
My ideological answer to that question is, “I’m searching for that place where time ceases to exist.”

In other words, I am looking for those moments in life that are so engrossing that nothing else matters. Those moments when time seems to slow down and life just seems simple for a moment. For me, I find those moments most often when I’m wearing a backpack in a foreign country and meeting strangers in hostels. People have a funny way of becoming their “best self” on the road and that is ultimately what I’m looking for. I want to be my best self and I seem to run into him more often while traveling.

What’s your American road trip goal?
Jess (my girlfriend), Barney (her dog) and myself are hoping to see the US as it was meant to be seen. This country is huge and it seems to demand a slower pace to truly experience it. Like anywhere, the US is just as much about the people is it is about the sites. We want to see the famous sites and we will, but in the meantime we’re talking to people from all over and hoping to get a glimpse into their lives. Our goal isn’t just to see the US, but to actually experience some of the sub-cultures.

What has been your favorite travel memory so far in US?
We are only 2 weeks into the road trip so far, but our favorite experience was when we spent a couple nights on a farm outside of Missoula, Montana. We used CouchSurfing.com and “surfed” with some really cool people! In the mornings we helped out a bit around the farm and then we went swimming and boating in the afternoons. It was a great experience and we met some really good people out there. Montanans are super friendly and the scenery in the entire state was incredible to experience first-hand.

What leafs can we expect next from you?
Because we started our road trip in Montana and Wyoming, we have front-loaded our road trip with national parks! As a result, my first 2 leafs were about Glacier & Yellowstone. In the future though, I would like to cast light on some of those places that don’t always get as much attention, cities and towns with unknown adventures and excitement! I’m more of a city-guy than a country-guy, so the next couple leafs will move from the country and focus on some of America’s greatest cities!

In the end, I am an adventure traveler on a budget. I am always looking for adventure and when I find it, I will share my experiences (along with some budget-saving tips as well).

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Travelers like Dan and Jess are not the first to go on an American road trip. And they certainly won’t be the last. The allure of the road will always call to travelers, and for good reason. From the amazing sights you see to the interesting people you meet along your journey, embarking on a road trip continues to be one of the best ways to experience a country.

To follow Dan’s leafs and for more road trip ideas and inspiration, download the LeafCanoe app.

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