I have had bus drivers in Nepal smoking hash while listening to Santana, drinking Chang ( local rice wine) and slurring their words, visiting with their good friend in the jump seat next to them with their eyes on the road only 50% of the time. The great Himalayan gorges beckoning, tires just inches away from the great plunge. I was apprehensive as our bus pulled out in the early Kathmandu dust toward the North, and the cool mountain air. I cannot remember our drivers name but he was the first driver I ever tipped. He was awesome! Careful around blind corners where others would Carine a speeding bus into possible mayhem. One bus ride I actually jumped out the window as the driver tried to slip the bus past a landslide only wide enough to fit a small car. Every passenger followed, spilling out the door ways, the emergency exit in the rear, half opened windows, and the bus skidded to a dusty stop just inches before the plunge. Today our driver was smooth, safe, and kind. He probably listened to Santana in the safety of his home. I tipped him good and everyone was thankful. We arrived at the Tibet border in one piece and began the immigration process.
We had arrived at Kodari the last village before crossing the friendship bridge into Tibet and the town of Zangmu. The bridge brings back old memories. It was here after finishing an expedition on Cho Oyu the 6th highest peak in the world that I had trouble exiting the country. They would not let me leave an I could not figure out why. I had planned to escape at night by rappelling down into the deep gorge that separates the borders and then crossing the river into Nepal. Providence steps in again. I ran into a Nepali friend who was doing business on the Tibet side and told him of my plan. In his broken Nepali accent he said " No no no maaat, Chinese machine guns in valley". I decide to pass on the idea of escaping via valley.
I called the American embassy in Chengdu and Nepal. They contacted the Chinese officer in charge, I was out 2 days later.
Now crossing back into Tibet I was nervous that they would refuse me entry. As they checked our paper work mid bridge span I looked toward the Chinese guard with his crisp green uniform and white gloves holding a semi automatic weapon. First thought, not good, as I walked toward the guard. Everything actually went well after I passed. We went into an immigration room and a kind Chinese officer greeted us and apologised for the wait. Relieved, we entered Tibet on September 21st and were on our way to holy Mt Kailash.