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December 6th, 2014

“It’s December. Many of the cities we passed are obscured by the coal-burning fog that engulfs so much of China during the colder months.”

“The four day journey across the length of China was not without entertainment.  Riders in the hard sleeper cars passed the time playing cards, eating oranges, and smoking cigarettes.”

December 7th, 2014

“Like the fogged landscape beyond our window, our train car was itself thick with  smoke--not of industrial pollution but of cigarettes.”

December 8th, 2014

“I woke up mid-assent towards the highest point of the trip. The Tanggula Pass sits at an altitude of 5,072 m (16,640 feet), the tallest railway in the world, sits at an altitude similar to Mount Everest base camp.”

“The shortage of oxygen in the air was sudden and totalizing. I had never experienced motion sickness or been seasick, but here I was sprawled out on the floor of this train car unable to catch my breath.”

December 9th, 2014

“The city of Lhasa lays in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. The city center is a labyrinth of alleyways and passages that lead into a large square. Bloody yack skulls stacked at the foot of a butcher cart, only partially stripped of skin and muscle.”

December 10th, 2014

“Built into one of these mountains is the crown of Lhasa, the Potala Palace. The surface was thickly layered with white paint, offset by deep purple trundles of thatched wood.”