Driving 10 hours for 140km
27.09.2018 - 28.09.2018
After finishing the kora around Mount Kailash, we still moved back to Saga the same day, a very tiring 8-hour-drive. Despite arriving only around 10pm, we had to get up at 6am the next morning to drive to the Tibetan border town of Kyirong. The road to Kyirong was under construction, so we had to pass it before the construction work began. This involved around 2 hours of driving on dirt roads near the road construction site. The driver frequently had to leave the car to look for the right way with his flashlight. After we passed the construction site, the road became very pleasant. We had beautiful mountain views along the way, including the peak of Mount Shishapangma (8’027m) in the distance, the first of the 8000-meter-peaks we have seen. In the early afternoon, we arrived in Kyirong, which was almost 2000 meters lower in elevation than Saga.
The Kyirong border was established only 2 years ago, after the old border has been completely destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. After spending one night in the border town, we were driven down to the Nepali border the next morning. The contrast between the two sides of the border could not have been bigger. The road to the border on the Chinese side was newly paved and at the border there was a big concrete building. Inside, our luggage was scanned and our passports were checked and stamped by the Chinese immigration officers. Once out of the building, there was the famous Friendship Bridge over the river which marked the border between the two countries.
By crossing this bridge, we moved from a place of order to a place of chaos. On the other side of the bridge there was a shabby hut, where Nepali military went through our luggage with their hands. People were shouting everywhere. After our luggage was approved, we had to carry it around 500 meters down a dirt road, where we found another dirty hut that was the immigration office. There, we hastily filled out a form and purchased our 30-day Nepali visa. A bit farther down the road there was a bus waiting for us, to bring us to Kathmandu.
In Tibet, we were told that the drive from the border to Kathmandu would take 8 hours. We found this hard to believe, as the distance is only 140km. It ended up taking us 10 hours, to move down the craziest road we have ever experienced. The entire road was unpaved and very rocky. Sometimes, parts of the road were washed away by landslides, leaving only a narrow lane to drive. The first 5km of the road were lined with Nepali cargo trucks, waiting to be allowed into China. This left only one lane to drive. So when cars were coming our way, we sometimes had to back up half a kilometer to find a spot to pass. Even after the line of Nepali trucks ended, the road was often not wide enough for two cars, leading to a lot of trouble every time a car came our way. The passing of two cars was often an incredible work of millimeter precision, made even more interesting by the steep cliffs dropping from the side of the road. Very tired, we arrived in Kathmandu late in the evening.