The roof of the world is very different from what I imagined. The mountains in Tibet look like the perfect backdrop to car adverts. Like the Swiss Alps minus the Christmas trees and alpine huts. The streets are new and nestle into the mountains like snakes. It's fantastically beautiful. Quickly enough, we leave the views into valleys behind us and climb onto the plain on which no trees grow and the only green springs from a touch of moss or turquoise lakes. They reflect the endless expanse of the sky. The landscape up here is unique. If pressured I'd compare it to Armenia or South Iran. However, Armenia and southern Iran are mostly yellow. Tibet is brown. It's a rocky desert where no tree or bush protects the people from the glaring sun.
Up here, I don't have my first encounter with symptoms of altitude sickness, but I can't escape them. I still carry a cold that has crept into my sinuses. A headache caused by the altitude, and the effort that every movement costs, cause me to vegetate on one of the rear seats of the taxi. Soon, I'm drifting in and out of sleep. I dream and am thrown back into this very surreal reality. Every stone on the road moves like a wave through my body, and because my knees are weak, I cannot resist it. I give up control. The three days in the taxi through Tibet are like one. It's hard to remember the three hotel rooms and the meals we had at odd times. Every movement makes me breathless and takes me to the edge of a swoon. I am immensely glad that I don't I have to worry about anything. My driver and my guide take over, and I relinquish control. I stare with wonder into the unknown. I switch off, only pick up what moves into my field of vision and let everything else go unnoticed.
The scenery flies by and only when P. asks me directly I get out to line up at a military post or to take a picture from a unique location. P. is my obligatory tourist guide. In Tibet, I can't go anywhere without him. I'm glad he's here. He is not very caring, but I can't blame him. At least he leaves me alone, and that's worth gold.
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