• All Aboard! at 9pm in Beijing for the 48 hour ride to Tibet along the world's most ambitious railway.
  • Efficient, if not terribly effusive, staff.
  • The soft sleeper berths were decidedly upscale by comparison to trains we've encountered elsewhere in Asia, however our journey during the train's first month of operation suffered from a lack of on-board janitorial maintenance that impaired our ability to find the experience 'luxurious' in any way.
  • Clean and modern interior of the Train included these LCD TV's... but the extent of the programming was one bad Chinese musical on continuous loop.
  • Train station food somewhere in Central China on Day 1.
  • This pajama-clad gentleman couldn't be bothered to pause his call when the train made a rare station stop.
  • Oxygen tubes are supplied at the beginning of Day 2 when the route ascends above 10,000 feet. Outlets are provided in every berth.
  • Early in Day 2, the train crosses Tongu La Pass. Depending on what map you believe, this pass rests at 16,640 feet, 16,995 feet, or 17,126 feet. The altimeter in the train itself reports 4514 meters, or 14,810 feet, which is probably due to calibration error.
  • The Qinghai Plateau is high desert ringed by stunning Himalayan peaks.
  • The distant mountains are as varied as the Plateau is flat and unchanging.
  • Along with the new railway, new highways have been built to incraese commerce and development in the area. Many worry the railroad will accelerate unchecked resource extraction, fouling a pristine wilderness and its ancient inhabitent cultures.
  • the crowd is predictably awed by the stunning landscape.
  • Erica decides these nuts are, in fact, indespensible fashion accessories, and - lo! - how they become her!
  • A packaged lunch from the club car consisted of five items of distinct color and consistency but one uniform flavor.
  • Yaks on the Qinghai Plateau.
  • This station break lasted barely long enough to find someone to take this picture for us.
  • A new friend who deftly negotiated on our behalf on a number of occasions over the course of the 48 hour journey.
  • Back on Terra Firma, we stayed several nights in the Ghorka Hotel, situated in the former Nepalese Embassy building.
  • Extremely blue sunset at the Ghorka.
  • The owner of the Ghorka took pity on a pair of rabbits he found at a Chinese market so he adopted them as pets. They share the grounds with a napping kitty who has no idea how popular he is.
  • Early morning visit to the Potala Palace.
  • Stark colors of Tibet against the blue, high altitude sky.
  • The Palace is so gorgeous you can't stop taking pictures of it.
  • Michael at the Palace.
  • The plumes of smoke from hundreds of sacred incense pots burning all around the Jokhang Temple.
  • Heavy labor performed by the women and children at a monastery.
  • Tibetan architectual style.
  • Police harass a hapless Tibetan who was unable to keep up with his quicker friends who ran away when they were spotted by officials on the Barkhor Square. This was only the first of many shows of subtle but unmistakable occupation force we witnessed in Lhasa.
  • The Tibetan is driven away by his Chinese captors in an ecologically-sensible electric vehicle.
  • Nuts and spices for sale.