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On my way to the Himalayas

Written by DanielaZavala. Posted in Blog

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on November 12, 2009 with 1 Comment



I can feel my heart pounding, just as it did twelve years ago when I was about to leave for Europe on my first trip as a backpacker. It was September 2nd, 1997, and anxiety was taking over me. I was terrified at the thought of travelling alone. Today, though, the anxiety that I am feeling is not from fear – it is from excitement and happiness. The adrenaline is rushing through my veins, and I am ready to go on the road with the only companion I need: my battered backpack.

In a few hours, I will be – once again – exploring a remote region of the world. And once more, I am heading to Asia…

My love affair with the East started in 2001, when I first visited China and Thailand. Since that trip, this romance has continued to intensify throughout the years. It is as if I cannot get enough of this region of the world.

Despite having explored Asia from north to south and from east to west, I hadn’t been able to find – until now – the right time to visit Tibet, a land that I have been dreaming of for over a decade.

Tibetan Boy

Tibetan Boy

Just hearing the word “Tibet” makes my imagination fly. The Land of the Snow seems so remote and bewildering – a mysterious territory of ancient monasteries and adventurous tales that have been immortalized in movies and books: A mystical Buddhist kingdom that lures people in search of a spiritual quest.

The wilderness of the unique plateau, the sound of the Buddhist chanting, the awe-inspiring images of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the dark and smiling faces of the Tibetans I had met in Nepal while hiking in the Everest National Park, and the world famous mountain fortress – the imposing Himalayas – that surrounds it, have always mesmerized me.

I am finally making my dream of visiting Tibet come true, but for months I haven’t been sure that I was going to be able to make it.

Last March 10th marked the 50th anniversary of a failed revolt against the Chinese invasion (or “liberation” depending on whom you ask) that led to the departure of the Dalai Lama to India to live in exile. Fearing a new Tibetan revolt – just as happened last year before the Olympics – thousands of Chinese troops have occupied the areas where riots could erupt in Tibet.

Due to the tension that has existed since last year, the restrictions to visit Tibet now change from month to month, and the difficulty of getting a Tibet permit fluctuates unpredictably. At the moment, independently visiting Tibet is not possible. The only way to enter the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) is to join a tour.

I have never been a tour person. For me, a tour confines free will – and it is precisely the feeling of total freedom that has always driven me to travel overseas. So why would I want to go to Tibet if I won’t feel that freedom? I was so hesitant about the tour idea that I almost postponed my trip. On top of that, tours to TAR are not only restrictive but are also very expensive.

The Himalayas

The Himalayas

Yet, I refused to give up on Tibet. Regardless of the political situation and the restrictions imposed in this region – which still remains one of the biggest security issues for China – I was determined to make it to snow-capped mountains of the Tibetan plateau.

A Tibetan travel agency has arranged a guide and a driver for me. For ten days, they will take me from Lhasa, all the way to Everest Base Camp, passing through Yamdrok Lake, Gyangtse, Shigatse, and Rongbuk.

After months of uncertainty and a lot of planning, I am finally ready to embark on a journey to Tibet, The Roof of the World.

Tomorrow, at 7:35 a.m., I will be on a plane to Beijing, China and one step closer to the mystical land of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans.

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  1. Many women have started traveling by themselves like you did. They planned to go with friends, the friends dropped out and then they were stuck with a ticket. They could stay home or continue on by themselves. I’d say the vast majority who do go, never regret it.

    Tibet sounds great. Enjoy!

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