Transiting into Tibet
The thing about riding into Tibet is that you can never do it alone. The only visas available for riders are group visas which makes this tour of Tibet a great chance for bikers to explore its magnificent terrain. The visa process takes a long time.
The bikers are checked, so are the papers of the machines and the people riding them. But once that’s done, you are free to explore Tibet and its spectacular canvas of sights. Rugged and dry at some places, lush green at others, the landscape looks like paintings that can’t be translated into words.
The roads inside Tibet are wonderful – smooth as silk and almost empty. The ride was so calm in some places that you almost ran the risk of dozing off on the bike. On the ride from Nyalam to Tingri, two things stood out for me – riding into the sparkling waterfalls that lash the roads, and the sudden sight of the desert plains of the Tibetan plateau with the proud Shisha Pangma mountain as its backdrop.
Sometimes, while riding through the plateau, the sun shone into your face so hard that you were blinded by its light, and yet it was like riding into a world of golden mystery.
With glimpses of Mount Everest on this stretch, we continued to the mighty mountain pass of Gyatso La and rode through the India-China Friendship highway on our way to Lhasa.
But there’s also a very distinct modern side to Lhasa. Huge malls, youngsters in international fashion labels, sports bikes, large cars – Tibet could be any country in the world. Interestingly, the sports bikes from leading international brands are apparently made in China. The same is true for cars – Mercedes, Aston Martin and the like.
The fakes aren’t restricted to the roads. I discovered this from the mechanic at the bike workshop. His iPhone 5S turned out to be a Chinese version of the Apple phone. The fake iPhone 6 was available even before the official launch of the real thing.
This makes Lhasa a great place to shop for branded clothes, sportswear and of course Tibetan kitsch. And, as improbable as it may seem, the nightlife in Tibet is better than in most Indian cities. There are clubs so vibrant and huge that they could put some Delhi clubs to shame. For an entry fee of Rs 1,800, you can pick up 24 bottles of beer, and then the party just moves from table to table and grows bigger over the night.
What to carry:
Besides biking gear, a full face helmet is a must. Take warm thermals, jackets, a cap, dark glasses and a hydration pack.
The food in Tibet is very bland and even the momos are unlike Indian ones. Yak meat is nice, but obviously not for vegetarians.
Carry chocolate and energy bars to keep you going. The local chocolates and biscuits aren’t bad either. Sometimes, all you get is fruit.
For more information, log on to: www.royalenfield.com/rides/events/touroftibet