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Information on our motorhome trip to Central America.
99 Days to Panama, an Exploration of Central America by Motorhome
by Dr. John & Harriet Halkyard, is available there
by John and Harriet Halkyard
We rented an RV and toured Yunnan and Tibet from Aug. 22 to Sept. 17.
We were apparently the first foreigners to rent an RV for this trip. The RV Club had to get permits for us to travel in Tibet. The rental included a driver and gas! The cost was about the same as the rate in the states without gas. We also paid for an interpreter.
We traveled 5000 km from Kuning in Yunnan Province to Mt. Everest in Tibet
(Map Courtesy Lonely Planet)
|The first 11 days were spent in
Yunnan Province. Our RV Company planned an itinerary which would
take us to the southern tropical forests of Yunnan
(Xishuangbanna). Their expectations were optimistic as the roads
we planned to take were washed out in places and we had to do a lot of
backtracking around Yuan Yang. We didn't have time to do the
south and make to Tibet as well. That will have to be
another trip, maybe through Thailand as well!
Parking Lot in Jianshui, Yunnan
||Zhu's home 214 rooms 42 courtyards; Informal Tea Ceremony||
Preparing to set out from the Yunnan CenTech Rving Club, Kunming
Our interpreter, Haimen Wang, is second from left. Our driver Wen Wei is third from left.
Courtyard in Honghe, Yunnan
||Terraced Rice Fields||
We traveled with a colleague of John's, Prof. Doug Foutch, from the University of Illinois, shown here shooting pictures of the remarkable terraced rice fields near Honghe. We were within about 50 miles of Lao Cai, VietNam where we visited in 2006 and the scenary was similar.
|Nan Sha Hot
Springs, Yuanyang, Yunnan
||Visited Minority Village|
||Dai People; Met teachers from Shanghai on boat||
We were invited to join a group of school teachers on a boating dinner on Dragon Lake. These Dai singers entertained us.
Scenic Spot, Yunnan
||Hani Minority People||
Luchong is a beach resort (similar to balnearios in Central America). This is the closest we came to an RV Park. We could plug in to electricity at the shop next to the RV.
Parking Lot, Yunnan
||Climbed Zhonghe Temple|
Parking Lot, Yunnan
||Great Shopping and Western Food!
Dali is a touristic and shopping Mecca for the Chinese. Gringos congregate on "Foreigner Street" for some western food and conversation.
||Stayed in Hotel; Attended concert on Naxi orchestra (local
The ideal climate of Lijiang makes it another popular tourist spot with the Chinese. It is a place worth spending several days. Here the Naxi people dance every evening in the central square. There is great scenary in the surrounding mountains also.
|11||Peng Si Lan Town Main Street||Passed through "Shangri-La" (near Zhongdian,
Yunnan). First glimpses of Tibeten culture.
The Chinese call this "Shangri-La", but it doesn't compare to the images conjured up by James Hilton in Lost Horizon.
|12||YanJing Hotel Parking Lot||Near Tibet Border|
||Very Rough Road.. not really recommended for the faint of
heart until they finish
construction. We covered 100 km in 12 hours.
Lonely Planet refers to the Yunnan-Tibet Highway as "..one of the most dangerous and beautiful roads in the world". It fits this description well.
The road has only been open to foreigners since 2006 and it is still under construction. Here we have a landslide and a 2000 ft dropoff to the left.
We are trapped in a landslide next to a raging river between Baxoi and Bomi, Tibet. The bus is also trapped. It is a sleeper bus making the trip from Lhasa to Chengdu in Schezuan Province. We paid a truck to pull us out.
|15||Bomi Town Hotel||
12 hours before we arrived in Bomi a mountain slide buried the road and a bus. We waited for a temporary road to be completed. The army maintains the roads in China. Land slides were everywhere.
|| Stayed in Hotel
||Barkhor Square; Jokhang Temple|
The Potala Palace in Lhasa was the home of the Dalai Lama until 1959. It is well worth a visit as is the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the spiritual center for Tibetan Buddhism
|20||Lhasa (Stayed in parking lot of our interpreters apartment!)||Nam Tso Lake||
You can ride a yak and camp at Sacred Nam Tso Lake at 4718 m (15479 ft) elevation. This is higher than the top of Mt. Whitney and Mt. Blanc.
|21||Shigatze Hotel Parking Lot||
Lhasa to Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the great bicycle rides in the world. We met this Kiwi and Danish girl at our hotel in Lhasa. When we met them on the road to Mt. Everest we treated them to some American Coffee in the RV! They were grateful.
|Tingri / Everest||
Our favorite camp site had a clear view of Mt. Eversest (on left) and Chu Yu (fourth highest peak more prominent on right). Our RV couldn't navigate the 30-mile road in to the Everest base camp from here. Four wheel drive land cruisers were required. As of October, 2007, a road suitable for all vehicles is open. The Olympic Torch will be carried to Everest.
|23||Lhaze Hotel Courtyard||Visit Monestary, tough climb|
|24||Shigatze Hotel Parking Lot||Visit Sakya; Tashihunpo Monestary in Shigatze||
Sakya is a Tibetan town with little Chinese influence. This women was planting a crop when we stopped to offer her some seeds from America.
|25||Gyangze Behind Hotel||Pelkhor Chode Monastery & Kumbum Chorten (108 chapels)||
Kumbum Chorten in Gyangze
|26||Lhasa Airport (Hotel)||Nice but long drive; Yamdrock-Tso Lake||
We parted with our driver (Wen Wei on left) and Tibeten interpreter (Dorjee on right) at the Lhasa airport. Wen Wei was a miracle worker, keeping us safe and fixing all the things that went wrong with the RV on the way. And he always smiled!
Be prepared to
(if you don't correspond in Chinese) as they need to have someone
translate the correspondence. They do not speak English.
Many travelers to Tibet experience ACM or a milder form of altitude sickness. The average elevation in Tibet is over 12,000 ft and there are several passes to 17,000 ft. If you camp at Nam Tso Lake or Everest you will be at 16,000 - 17,000 ft. We had no symptoms of ACM but our trip took several days from Kunming (6000 ft) until we reached elevations as high as 12,000 ft. The gradual acclimatization is important. We also drank 3-4 liters of water a day and took medication (Acetazolamide 250 mg) prescribed by a doctor.
|Wang Haimen has suggested this
alternate route to Tibet from Yunnan through some very scenic territory
Day3：Bingzhongluo-zhongding village-Chawalong village（vehicle road terminal）
Day4：(hiking and riding)Chawalong—Zhana—minhong(village)... about 6 hours
Day5：Minhong village—Nuola Mt. below. Camping in night
Day6：Nuola Mt. below—Ridong ... Cross Qimala pass ,4700M。
Day7：Ridong Village-Zelong rangeland... Camping
Day8 Zeling rangeland -Yixiula Mt. below... stay in village
Day9 Yixiula Mt.below-Sangjiu(hiking end,vehicle road emerge)-Chayu Town
The following website has related photos:
Contact Haimen at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.