I woke up early (did I say 'woke', that cannot be since I don't think I even slept) and took 10 minutes to convince myself to get out of bed and brave the freezing cold and howling wind. We decided to back to Base Camp again and make Top ten come with us so that we could actually see the whole camp and take more than surreptitious photos when the police weren't watching.
If I thought yesterday was bitterly cold then I was mistaken. This was the coldest weather I have ever experienced. Even with 8 layers on the top and 3 on the bottom, plus a scarf, beanie, hood and two pairs of gloves I was so cold it brought tears to my eyes. My hands felt like they had been dipped in boiling water they were so painful and they pretty much stopped working. I hardly got any photos because I couldn't move my fingers to press the shutter! I think my Indian blood has very poorly equipped me to deal with Arctic weather and my systems seem to just shut down.
After the trek back to the monastery and back on the equally frigid bus, I wrapped myself in 2 sleeping bags and attempted to thaw out. I think that will take much longer than a day though! We left Rongphu and took a long and slow drive south towards the border and stopped in the minuscule town of Tingri, population 500. Shower was not included in the room price but I purchased one for 10Yuan, the long drop was free however.
The guesthouse, and indeed the town, reeked of desolation. The room I was sharing with Monica was secured (and I use that term loosely) with a padlock and the interior was padded, or perhaps decorated, with an array of floral sheeting that was so over the top that it appeared psychedelic. I had the strangest feeling stepping into the room that I had stepped into the white rabbit's hole in Alice in Wonderland. There was no power to speak of BUT there was a light bulb so low in wattage that only the element in the bulb glowed red, do they MAKE 1 watt light bulbs?
After days on end of potatoes I decided to spice things up with 2 minute noodles purchased from some one's house down the road for the grand total of 4Yuan. Its cheaper to eat than shower in this place!
I seem to have developed something I like to call Yak Flu, which involves a perpetually running AND blocked nose and sneezing dozens of times a day. I think I am allergic to Tibet.
Each day seems to be be sinking lower and lower on the standards of hygiene, cleanliness, comfort, fun, food options, temperature. The rooms have steadily decreased in quality and price while the layers of dust get thicker and the yak butter tea gets stronger. I feel like I am turning into a barbarian! The only thing that is increasing is the numbers of layers I am wearing each day and my sense of frustration. But, only two days to go, how bad can it be?