I got up early in the morning. My travel companions and I haven't yet talked about when to cross the border, but I didn't wanna start off by holding them back. The air was clear and the border-town streets were more lively than when I arrived, although not by much. The iron gate to China was still closed, but some of the trucks had their engine already running and queued up in anticipation. I packed everything on my bike and I had a quick breakfast while keeping an eye out for my new friends.
"You have to wait until 11am before you can cross" said the Nepalese customs officer. The others groaned. "How can this be? 5 hours to kill… Is there no other way?" My traveller friends were not happy. Admittedly, we had a tight schedule in Tibet. Along the route, we were supposed to report on all checkpoints on certain dates. If we were late, we would get into trouble. This could mean hefty fines. But I thought 5 hours won't make the difference. If I had known what obstacles would lie ahead and how they would set us back, maybe I wouldn't have been so relaxed about it. I invited the the Nepalese customs officer for a cup of coffee and talked to him about the weather for a while. He was very friendly. And I don't know why, but suddenly he let us pass the border without the wait. Maybe the coffee was so bad, he didn't want to get offered another one. My traveller friends were happy about this and congratulated me on my strategy. I never told them that this wasn't a strategy, I just wanted to share a cuppa with the guy.
Our joy about not having wasted time lasted not very long. At the Chinese side, we were told to wait again. "Technical Problems" they explained. We spend almost the entire day in no-mans-land between Nepal and China. Five in the afternoon the Chinese guide was let through to us and we could get the border crossing sorted. Yeah, we are in Tibet! We covered about 30km and the sun was about to set when we came to a road barrier. "Road constructions". This time we got no explanation by anyone. The workers played some board game in their shed and used their hands to mime us "Chill out, wait an indefinite amount of time and use it to do what you like." It must have been past midnight until the first trucks came through from the others side. By then I had already gone for a wander to see what's going on. The road construction must have caused a landslide and a bulldozer was trying to clear it. They only managed one lane in the 'shortness' of time. It took a long time until the train of trucks coming from the other side trickled out and we were allowed to go. The first day of our Tibet expedition started early, lasted way past midnight, included a whole lot of waiting and brought us not farther than 50km in total. Ok, this needed to improve, otherwise we'd get in a lot of trouble.