Formed by Everest’s Rongphu Glacier (絨布冰川), the Rongphu Valley offers us a designated natural approach to the majestic Mount Everest from its north side. The valley stretches from Rongphu Monastery (རྫ་རོང་ཕུ་དགོན་ 絨布寺) in the north to Mount Everest in the south. In front of Rongphu Glacier sits the base camp for professional climbers. Somewhere between the climber’s base camp and Rongphu Monastery lies the Tent Village catered for the rest of the visitors. At the terminus of Zhufeng Road (Mount Everest Road), the Tent Village is the closest spot to Mount Everest accessible by vehicle.
Thanks to Google Maps, we can now obtain a clear three dimensional birdeye’s view of the Tent City of Everest Base Camp and Mount Everest.
Slightly after 6pm, we had finally entered the Tent Village of Everest Base Camp. The first impression was like arriving at a busy parking lot in a valley.
Crafted by the Rongphu Glacier (絨布冰川), the base camp is flanked by peculiar rock cliffs towering up the sky.
Our driver Sangzhu parked the car and led us into Tent 21. Apparently all tents were pretty much identical with similar price per bed.
Inside Tent 21, there were about 8 bed spaces in a common dorm setting, a shelf of food and drinks, a stove, a few tables and a counter selling tourist souvenir. The owner also stayed with us in the tent.
In the middle of the Tent Village, there was the world’s highest post office where a few tourists were waiting for the postman’s return. Apparently the post office doesn’t sell postal stamps there but can mail out postcards if a postal stamp is already attached.
Behind the Tent City, we could see Mount Everest emerging from the fast moving clouds. Perhaps the time was too late, the environmental friendly shuttle bus between the Tent Village and the climber’s base camp was not running when we were there. We followed other tourists to walk along the rocky path towards the mountain, and reach a stone plaque after 15 minute’s walk.
The rewarding moment had finally arrived as the clouds began to thin out. The tallest mountain on Earth was right in front of us. At 8848m the summit of Mount Everest was still over 3600m above us, despite we had reached 5200m above sea level.
Our rewarding minutes ticked by as the sun began to set. Everywhere was getting dark quickly except the snow-capped Everest that was tall enough to receive the day’s last bit of sunlight.
At 8pm just before sunset, Mount Everest stood silently under the yellow spotlight of the setting sun. Looking at the shear beauty of the snow-capped summit, recalling all the past expedition stories and absorbing the legendary aura and spiritual power of the Everest, it was truly magical.
It was time for us to retreat into the tent and shook off the cold. We had a simple meal of instant cup noodles and canned sardines.
At 9pm, the boy of the owner was already sleeping soundly in bed under thick comfortable blankets.
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More blog posts on Tibet 2017:
JOURNEY ABOVE THE CLOUDS, Tibet 2017 (西藏之旅2017)
DAY 1: TOUCHDOWN ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD, Lhasa
DAY 1: TRICHANG LABRANG HOTEL (赤江拉讓藏式賓館), Lhasa
DAY 1: KORA AT BARKHOR STREET (八廓街), Lhasa
DAY 2: FIRST GLIMPSE OF POTALA (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 2: KORA OF DREPUNG MONASTERY (哲蚌寺), Lhasa
DAY 2: DREPUNG MONASTERY (哲蚌寺), Lhasa
DAY 2: JOKHANG MONASTERY (大昭寺), Lhasa
DAY 2 : SPINN CAFE (風轉咖啡館), Lhasa
DAY 2: NIGHT VIEW OF POTALA (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 3: POTALA PALACE (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 3: SERA MONASTERY (色拉寺), Lhasa
Day 4: KORA OF GANDEN MONASTERY (甘丹寺), Lhasa
Day 4: GANDEN MONASTERY (甘丹寺), Lhasa
DAY 4: TEA HOUSE AND FAMILY RESTAURANT, Lhasa
DAY 5: ON THE ROAD IN TIBET
DAY 5: MORNING IN SHANNAN (山南)
DAY 5: SAMYE MONASTERY (桑耶寺), Shannan
DAY 5: SAMYE TOWN (桑耶鎮), Shannan
DAY 6: YAMDROK LAKE (羊卓雍錯)
DAY 6: PALCHO MONASTERY (白居寺), Gyantse
DAY 6: WORDO COURTYARD (吾爾朵大宅院), Shigatse
DAY 7: ROAD TO EVEREST BASE CAMP (珠峰大本營)
DAY 7: EVEREST BASE CAMP (珠峰大本營)
DAY 7: STARRY NIGHT, Everest Base Camp
DAY 8: PANG LA PASS (加烏拉山口), Mount Everest Road
DAY 8: SAKYA MONASTERY (薩迦寺)
DAY 9: TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY, (扎什倫布寺) Shigatse
DAY 9: ROAD TO NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 9: EVENING AT NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 10: SUNRISE AT NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 10: LAST DAY IN LHASA, Tibet
EPILOGUE: FACES OF LHASA, Tibet
The sky wasn’t as clear as the morning when we arrived at Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖). In our Nikko day trip from Tokyo, Lake Chuzenji was our last destination of the day. The scenery of Lake Chuzenji is dominated by the magnificent Mount Nantai (男体山 or 二荒山), an active stratovolcano that had erupted 7000 years ago. If visiting in the autumn, we can take the Tobu bus up to the lookout of Mount Hangetsuyama (半月山) to enjoy a fantastic view of the conical volcano and its perfection reflection in the lake. Since the bus only operates in the autumn months and we didn’t want to hire a car just for the lookout, we decided to enjoy Lake Chuzenji by doing a short walk along the southeastern shore to the former British and Italian Embassies.
From the bus station, it was only a five minute walk to the shore of Lake Chuzenji.
We walked along the southeastern shore of Lake Chuzenji and passed by many swan pedal boats.
Soon we reached the entrance of Chuzenji Temple (中禅寺), the Buddhist temple that gave the name to Lake Chuzenji.
Another short walk from Chuzenji Temple brought us to our destination of the afternoon, the former Italian Embassy. Designed by American architect Antonin Raymond, the villa was built in 1928 as the summer villa for the Italian Embassy in the past. Antonin Raymond cladded the entire building with Japanese cedar bark, a local material from the area.
Today, the building becomes a museum for the public.
The Viewing Hallway on the ground level allowed a magnificent panorama view of the lake.
There are three bedrooms on the upper floor. The decor is simple and elegant.
After touring the Italian Embassy Villa, we walked down to the landscaped area by the shore.
A timber jetty outside the Italian Embassy Villa brought us closer to the lake.
From the jetty, we could see the sacred Mount Nantai (男体山 or 二荒山). The lake was extremely peaceful with super clear water.
We walked back towards the starting point of our short walk. Soon, we reached the jetty of another old western villa, the former British Embassy Villa.
Similar to the Italian Embassy Villa, maximizing the panoramic views of the lake seemed to be the main concept of the house design.
The viewing hallway of the British Embassy Villa was equally impressive with the beautiful scenery of the lake.
After the embassy villas, we walked slowly back to the village of Chuzenji where we got off the bus.
We were way too early to see the fall colours, but instead we saw some beautiful flowers along the way.
We also saw several people recreational fishing in the lake.
Back to Nikko town, we still had about an hour’s time before our train departed for Tokyo. We dropped by Komekichi Kozushi, a small sushi restaurant just a stone throw from the train station, for a quick and decent dinner.
The father and son owners of Komekichi Kozushi were quite serious about the correct way to eat sushi. The food was very delicious and we highly recommend Komekichi Kozushi to any Nikko visitor.
After dinner, the sky was getting dark, and we could see the dramatic silhouette of Mount Nantai backed with vivid skies.
As we stepped into Nikko Tobu Railway Station, our one-day visit of Nikko was coming to an end. We hopped on the limited express train for Asakusa Tokyo.