Sunday, 21st June: This was the day we were to have gone to the Dingri, the Base Camp on the north side of Mount Everest, otherwise known as ‘Baiba’. However, the recent earthquakes in Nepal made our planned trip to the Base Camp impossible. I certainly have no complaint whatsoever. People’s lives are far more important than the satisfaction of a few tourists. That’s not to say that I don’t feel sad at not being able to go, because I do – but I’ll get over it. The families of those who have died or been seriously injured may never get over it …
All that said, our alternative route was a 450 km jaunt with tantalising glimpses of the Himalayas in the distance, hidden by the closer foothills. There were views of other mountain ranges some distance away, arguably just as stunning, but not the ones I really wanted to see. All around us was desert terrain, just as it had been since Volgograd for me, apart from a few areas around Almaty and in Kyrgyzstan.
The Tibetan houses seemed to take on more permanent forms than further north and I began to notice that the land was beginning to support more grazing and now even the cultivation of trees and rice fields, albeit small. These latter were assisted by a rudimentary irrigation system from a nearby river.
Our arrival at the hotel in Shigatse made the whole day worthwhile. It was smart, modern and functioning. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in a major western city. The showers worked and they had hot water. There was even internet access. However, at this point Murphy’s Law took a hand and contrived to reconfigure my notebook network adaptor incorrectly – at least, according to the troubleshooting service provided by Microsoft! So here’s a question of Microsoft: if your program is so clever that it recognises that my network adaptor is incorrectly configured, why the Hell can’t it correct it? BUGGER!