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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 1: Arriving in Lhasa

The First Day

To my surprise, Xiaoyur was a very well connected person. When we flew in Lhasa, there were people already waiting at the airport. The girl was very welcoming. While asking about our trip, she and the driver took the luggage and led us the way . Walking at such a high altitude is indeed consuming the energy. Although we took our time and shuffled to the car, my head started feeling a little heavy already. Considering that I had been on the road for weeks and got a little bit exhausted already, I actually thought the symptom was not bad at all. Espcially, it was nothing near what I had in Cusco, where I felt my head was going to explode.

Xiaoyur was not in her best health condition either at the moment. Too excited in meeting old friends in the college re-union party right before the Tibet trip, she got sick and had a low fever last night. Although she claimed OK this morning, I thought, she would take all the efforts to rest and get used to the high altitude as soon as possible. However, she didn’t have the chance. A very social and nice person who had a hard time to say no, she was kept busy in chatting with the friendly girl about Lhasa in the car, and, soon, she felt sick. It looked like that even the supplement she had taken for two weeks, which claimed to prevent the altitude sickness, didn’t help.

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The guest house was located in the center of Lhasa, where vehicles were prohibited. After waving bye to the nice girl and the driver, we strolled along the busiest touristy street and trudged in the guesthouse, exhausted. Quickly, 6 girls of the travel group arrived in the guest house. Except wucong, all other five girls had never done a group travel with strangers who only met on the internet. This was new and exciting.  As the group leader, though still not feeling well, Xiaoyur joined us at the dinner and greated all gals. The dishes were delicious. If you are still thinking that Lhasa is underdeveloped… , think twice.

Stuffed, we went out and wandered around the little shops nearby. Out of no where, my heartbeat went crazy suddenly, though only for a few seconds, it scared me. Would I be able to do the hiking at 5000 meters above the sea level? Xiaoyu’s itinerary seemed too ambitious. I was afraid that she was not in the great condition for the challenge at the Gangrenboqi mountain as well.

The Second Day (to be continued)

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