asia · China (PRC) · Tibet · Travel

The Roof of the World (Part 4: My unexpected adventure in Lhasa)

Hello to followers old and new, this will be my penultimate segment on my trip to Tibet – you can find the previous three parts here(part 1), here(part 2) and here(part 3).  In the previous segments I talked about the train journey from Chongqing to Lhasa, the altitude sickness, Namtso and a little about Lhasa.  This post will be about the unexpected and somewhat unintended situation we found ourselves in.

So, on the second to last day in Tibet we got ourselves in a little bit of bother…

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If you go to Lhasa, you will see a hill with a large radio mast at the top, it is the highest point directly within the city.  When we saw this large hill we discussed how good the view of the city and the Potala Palace would be from the top.

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We travelled around the circumference of the hill trying to find a point of entry to the start of a trail but couldn’t seem to find one anywhere – we eventually found an opening at the back of one of the temples which seemed to lead up the hill – the terrain became more rugged and dangerous the further we walked, at this point we realised that maybe we shouldn’t have been there but we persevered knowing that the view at the top would be worth it.  We soon found ourselves shimmying  across ledges, scrambling up steep gravelly slopes, before long we were hopping over pipes and wires…now we knew we definitely shouldn’t be here, but I was still thinking the place was devoid of any human presence so our visit would go unnoticed.

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We saw some stone steps that cut straight up the hill, these were blocked off at the bottom but from half way up the slope we were able to hop over a rail and walk up the rest of the way with ease (you can see these steps in the image above).  When we got to the top, I looked out over the city and thought to myself ‘this was definitely worth it’.  We were looking out over the sun drenched landscape, it was majestic – the peace was quickly broken by the frightening sound of dogs barking, when I turned around fully expecting to be mauled, the dog was fortunately ringfenced.  The barking German Shepherd alerted a man who stepped out of a hut within the fenced enclosure, he was a policeman and immediately pulled out his radio and started speaking to other police officers at the end of the line.

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He told us to stop taking photos and lead us down the mountain where around ten police officers were waiting for us.  Once we cleared things up and the police realised that we weren’t attempting to cause any trouble they let us go, but it was a bit of a close shave and could have gone worse.  On the plus side, I did get the photo I was hoping for which you can see below, we also had a pretty interesting and unexpected adventure.

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So if you ever visit Lhasa and see a large hill with a radio mast on top, you’ll probably get apprehended if you attempt to climb it and the police may not be as forgiving as they were with us, so be warned.

I will be writing the conclusion to my week in Tibet either tonight or tomorrow – please stay tuned and I hope you have enjoyed my ‘Roof of the World’ series on Tibet.

Goodnight

Matt

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