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Day 59: Xangmu to Tingri

Michael Palin - HimalayaBy the time all the formalities have been completed and to be fair, a British film crew is a very rare sight in Tibet it's early afternoon. Our final departure is marked by a small ceremony at which the manager of the Bai Ma Hotel gives us each a white scarf to bring us good luck on our journey. He seems a decent man, doing his best, though I notice he doesn't have a complaints box.

As we drive out of Xangmu (with few regrets, in my case) the squash of white-tiled buildings eases and we can see the wooded gorge we climbed yesterday, plunging picturesquely down to Nepal. The road to Lhasa (now, inevitably, re-christened the Friendship Highway) continues to climb steeply, through forested slopes and past tumbling waterfalls, until it brings us at last to the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The Roof of the World was once a seabed. What lay beneath the ancient Sea of Tethys was heaved up onto the top of the world by the same collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates that built the Himalaya. It now rests at an average height of 13,100 feet (4000 m) and from its steep sides stream some of the world's greatest rivers: the Indus, Salween, Yangtze, Irrawaddy, Yellow River and Brahmaputra.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 59: Xangmu to Tingri
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Xangmu
  • Book page no: 139

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