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Day 63: Rongbuk to Shigatse

Everest, Tibet 
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Passing an abandoned fort on the way down from Everest.
Michael Palin - HimalayaHowling packs of dogs, yelping and snarling in the village last night, and, closer to home, some angry argument in the passageway outside my room, hoarse shouting and a man being restrained.

The words of Captain Scott on arrival at the South Pole come to mind: 'My God, this is an awful place'.

Today, though, I wash in the metal bowl for the last time, pay my last visit to the stained, encrusted lavatory, and take my last look at Everest framed in one of the squares of my cracked and much-repaired windows.

A Dutchman and his wife who stayed here last night are on their way from Lhasa to Kathmandu, on bicycles. It's taken them a month to get this far. I never thought anyone would make me feel pampered in a place like this, but as they wobble off on their bicycles and I climb into my four-wheel drive, that's exactly how I feel. A sturdy, smiling nun in a maroon robe, with a milk churn strapped to her back, stands to one side as our convoy pulls out. I'm torn between admiration for her indomitable cheerfulness and indignation at the grinding poverty that is the way of life for her and the villagers of Rongbuk. This is a beautiful, bleak place.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 63: Rongbuk to Shigatse
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Rongbuk
  • Book page no: 152

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