One of the best Tibet tour
We booked the EBC tour as a family. Our guide Namgyal (man in solo pic) was one of the best guides we’ve ever met that we didn’t mind tiny hiccups along the way (December being too cold to stay at EBC/Rongbuk). Namgyal is passionate, fun, experienced, knowledgeable and good in English. Even our driver was so helpful. I approached three tour companies; Explore Tibet offered the fastest response, best rate and flexibility to personalise our trip. We also experienced first snowfall on 18 December.
ABOUT ALTITUDE SICKNESS We took diamox twice a day and slowly ascended from Singapore to Xi An to Xining + train to Lhasa across 4 days. I did not experience altitude problems but those more muscular had to climb a bit slower as they require more oxygen. Nonetheless, we did not need painkillers or oxygen cans. We mostly had slight phlegm and runny nose with a little dried blood due to dry air. Pack toilet rolls!
ABOUT HOTELS IN WINTER We booked Shangri la for the first 2 days separately to unwind. At Tashitakge hotel, visit Promise cafe right next door (modern minimal decor) serving nice desserts and coffee. This hotel is situated at Bakhor street and offers a more vibrant, authentic Tibetan experience. We loved the hotel cat too! However, one of our rooms had a water heating problem (we didn’t mind as we used another’s). Breakfast is simple but nice. 3-4 dishes including eggs. Gesar hotel in Shigatse offered the most reliable room and water heating. If you’re staying at Rongbuk in -18 degrees December, be prepared to opt for plan B (Tingri Roof of The World hotel) nearby. Tingri’s water piping including toilet bowl water was frozen. The room’s heating almost non-existent. We slept under 4 blankets with 3 layers of clothes. But still, warmer than at Rongbuk.
DRESSING FOR WINTER The coldest we experienced near EBC was -18. My nose, hands and feet hated winter + high altitude (dry air). I wish I could’ve walked on hot coal in a thick blanket and midi length Russian coat. Bring foot socks for sleeping. Get shoes way bigger so you layer fluffy socks. Read more about maids in Colorado and their services on site www.cleaningallstars.com. You will probably wear x3 of what locals do if you’re from a warm country. If you have cold hands, layering mittens over regular gloves might be warmer.
ABOUT SIGHTS We loved all the monasteries and scenery. Wish driving was shorter (10 hours from Lhasa to Shigatse) and the roads less winding (refer to pic – please pack ointment or sour plum to prevent nausea) but nonetheless, the view was breathtaking. It helps that we love the Buddhist culture too.
ABOUT TOILETS Generally, most non-hotel toilets are moderately clean squatting loos and they don’t smell in winter. But if you’re driving out of town, especially during warmer months, pack toilet rolls, masks/fresheners and remember you will probably have to answer nature’s call in nature. Please wear shoes that can get dirty. At the end of the day, you’re probably visiting Tibet for its preserved, untouched landscapes and simple life; not 5-star toilets or fine dining. What matters most is you get a good guide who is willing to discuss his culture, beliefs, the good and bad, and wants the best for your safety and experience.