After an exhilarating drive for about 9 hours of increasingly treacherous road from Sayka along what is little more than a yak track we arrived at Rongphu - about 5000m above sea level and a mere 8km from Everest Base Camp. The view is incredible!
We had stopped along the way for lunch and inadvertently collected a climber, Peter, who is part of an expedition planning to summit Mt Everest later this month. When we arrived at Rongphu the weather was beautifully clear and we decided to trek out to base camp with Peter straight away before the sun went down. It was truly the coldest experience of my life but so exciting! It was amazing to be up so high and to be standing at the Everest Base Camp finally.
Unfortunately out lazy guide, Topten, hadn't come with us so without our guide to show our permit the police stationed there sent us away and wouldn't let us look around and take photos. Lucky for me I was the first there and the police hadn't noticed me snapping away :)
I stayed the night in a dorm at the Rongphu Monastery, one of the highest in the world, standing at a lofty 4,980m and its panoramas are utterly spectacular. This monastery was first built in 1902 by the Nyingma Lama and originally housed more than 500 monks. Today there are only about 50 monks and nuns left. Personally I think the others couldn't take the cold and moved on; this place is freezing! After another dinner of potatoes i headed off towards bed. The food is Tibet is starting to get very depressing. I can't stomach any more yak meat and the only edible food is potatoes. Now I am not exactly complaining, I LOVE potatoes!! But it is all i am eating, 3 meals a day; hash browns in the morning, french fries for lunch and fried sliced potatoes for dinner. Too much more of this could result in some sort of nutritional deficiency.
I wore so many layers to bed that I lost count, as well as 2 pairs of gloves, a scarf and a beanie. Monica and I decided to push our beds together and combine our blanket resources so whilst we were each in our individual sleeping bags, we also had a total of 6 blankets over us as well. And I still froze; a cold and sleepless night. The sleeplessness was also contributed to by the rumbling snored of one of the women in the dorm. No showers and outdoor stinking long-drop toilets; I am starting to understand why Tibetans only shower every 6 months. Who would nude up here if they didn't have to??