Driving Into Tibet

Previous page - We approach the border to enter Tibet


Transiting into Tibet

The guide took our passports off us and gave them to the Nepali immigration officers. The three of us desperately needed to use the toilet. The Diamox was already making us want to use the toilet more frequently. The ladies’ toilet was a putrid squat toilet. I was nearly sick because the smell was so bad. I don’t think the men’s loo was much better. Our stamped passports were given back to us and the guide accompanied us and the luggage carriers further up the hill and we walked across the Friendship Bridge. We weren’t allowed to take photographs in this area.


The Friendship Bridge The Friendship Bridge seen from the Tibet side


Chinese Immigration Office

The Chinese immigration office was at the other end of the bridge. Our guide told us to wait just inside the building whilst he went through to find our Tibetan guide.

The three luggage carriers left us with our luggage and they went through the immigration area to wait for us again on the Chinese side. Moments later our Tibetan guide, Tiki, appeared.  Our first impression was that her English was limited. She helped us through the procedure which was simple anyway. An official had a look in our bags but it was certainly not an in depth look. He was mainly looking for books it seems. Then another official had a look in our passports but never stamped them. It seems our Group Visa was in order. We were free to go.


Bags get hauled back up onto backs

Outside the building we found the same three strong baggage handlers who were ready to haul our luggage back up onto their backs in readiness for the walk up the hill to the waiting four-wheel-drive that would transport us through Tibet.  We gave the three carriers 15 Chinese Yuan each which apparently was the going rate. Later on we realized this converted to only $2.50 AUD. They each put in a huge effort for such a tiny payment. Money must be so hard to come by in these parts. No wonder they are keen to grab luggage straight out of the vehicles.


Chinese roads

It was instantly obvious the roads in Tibet were in far better condition than those in Nepal. Not only were the roads smoother but there were safety barriers around all the bends so it was less easy to drive over the edge to your death. Climbing ever higher the tropical landscape disappeared fast. The landscape in these parts is very harsh with lots of bare rock.

Roads in Tibet were in better condition and they had barriers along the edges Roads in Tibet were better





We stopped at the steep hillside town of Zangmu. We were taken to quite a presentable restaurant for lunch. It was called Gang Gyen Western food and Coffee Restaurant. Jeremy wasn’t very hungry so he ate only a couple of mouthfuls of his sweet and sour chicken meal. Ian and I ordered tomato soup and momos. The soup was delicious but the momos less so. 


Reasonable lunch was had here We entered this restaurant for lunch



There was a shop opposite the hotel where we were able to buy tissues for Jeremy. We went back to the car and dug our more cold and flu tablets for him. After that Tiki suggested we have a wander around Zangmu for 50 minutes and then meet her and the driver (whose name is Punti) back at the car ready for our 30 kilometre drive to Nyalam where we would be spending the night.



Our driver and guide Punti, our driver and Tiki, our guide
Zangmu is a border town Zangmu is built on the side of a steep hill










Zangmu township Main street in Zangmu

Zangmu is a small town built on the side of a hill. The main road from the border runs through the town so there is a lot of tourist traffic there. We wandered up the hill along a fairly narrow bendy road. There were a lot of little shops to look at. It would have been nice to see the view from up there but the shops were built so close together there was never the opportunity to see between them. We came across soldiers marching along the street. I would have loved a decent photograph but of course that wasn’t possible in this country. Eventually we thought it was time to walk back down the hill to the waiting car and we set off again.

A short distance up the road the car stopped and Tiki went into the Chinese Customs office.  A few minutes later she was back and we were on our way again. No hassles there. The car was travelling further and higher up into the mountains.




Next page - Adun Guest House in Nyalam




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