Like I said on my previous post, before my Tibet holiday I had zero idea about going to highland, what to expect and how serious high altitude sickness could be. Now. After that unforgettable
holiday expedition to Tibet, I want to share what to prepare before going to places with higher altitude, based on my personal experience. But before that, to know what altitude sickness is, caused, symptoms, treatments and such, I trust this web. ⊂(´• ω •`⊂)
Fyi, for those who have not read my previous posts, my trip to Tibet was not for hiking. The only tough activity we did was climbing up 432 steps at Potala Palace – it was fun but with that thin air we were all panting like crazy! The rest of the activity we just sat in the bus and walked not too far from where the bus parked. ( ﾟｏ⌒)
There are 3 types of Altitude Sickness;
- AMS (Accute Mountain Sickness) – I experienced the moderate level of AMS, which are headache and nausea. My roommate Ling, experienced worse case of AMS but she was fine after few times vomiting and few sleepless nights in the first three days.
- HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) – another lady in her 50s experienced HAPE and immediately sent to hospital due to fluids in her lungs.
- HACE (High Altitude Celebral Edema) – luckily no one experienced this worst case of high altitude sickness where there is fluids in the brain
What to do before you go;
- Preserve your energy – you know your holiday will be so tiring, so you need to keep your body relax and prepare for the big day. Spend few days before you go doing as little as possible. For me, I took quite a lot of naps and went to bed earlier than usual 😀
- Do not exercise – exercise will make you heart accelerate to pump more oxygent to your body. If your body get used to this, you will find it difficult to breathe in higher altitude with lower oxygent level. Also don’t make yourself unnecessarily panting during the trip too, remember to do everything in slow motion.
- Take high carbs diet – when first arriving at high altitude your body uses more blood sugar as a fuel source during rest and during exercise. In addition to reducing fatigue and preventing low blood sugar levels it has been shown that a diet high in carbohydrate can prevent symptoms AMS. And when you lost appetite during the trip due to AMS sympstons remember to force yourself to take more carbs and keep on eating!
- Drink plenty of water – around four to six litres per day. Dehydration worsens altitude problems, as does drinking alcohol. Energy level drops dramatically if you are not well hydrated. Remember to drink more water than usual during the trip too because as you go higher, the temperature drops, and cold air holds less moisture then warm air.
- Do not polish your nails – the color of your nails (and lips) are for the locals to check how your body adapt with the harsh weather there.
- Take high altitude vitamins – I took Chinese herbal vitamin called Hong Jing Tian, 4 days before my flight to Nyingchi. I took it twice a day, everyday until the last lake in Qinghai. Then again, this is just vitamin, each person will have different reactions – some of my friends were fine during the whole trip with this vitamins, but some others were experienced AMS. Other western medicine you can consider is Diamox. Consult with your doctor before taking this medicine. The common side-effect of this medicine is stomach upset. So when you’re taking a tour around Tibet where they don’t stop that often for toilet breaks – and even if we do, the public toilets are something what I called a-bit-traumatizing. Please choose the timing wisely when to take this medicine. 😀
What to bring;
- high altitude vitamins – of course!
- vitamin-c – to keep yourself as healthy as possible take it daily!
- glucose drinks – this is not essentials but recommended to take daily. In short, glucose provides instant energy for physiological processes such as respiration, heart rhythm and cools down body temperature.
- food-poisoning medicine or charcoal – I did get a food-poisoning on my second night. You will never know what your tummy disagree at until you took that unlucky food! 😀
- everything to keep yourself warm: hat, gloves, wind-breaker, shawl, heat-tech clothes, leg warmer, etc.
- umbrella – don’t underestimate drizzling in a cold weather! This could be handy too for no-doors public toilets. Yes you heard it right : NO-DOORS public toilets!
- sun glasses – UV rays was very strong up there!
- UV lotion. Or spray – Just spray it anytime, anywhere.
- dry tissue – tissue is a rare thing here, don’t expect to get it inside the restroom.
- wet tissue – you will need this too.
- shower paper – mine is Gatsby, I bought it from Watsons. Please note the first few days at the highland, it is not advisable to take shower. The reason showering not advised is because showering will put you at great risk of catching cold which can greatly worsen high-altitude symptoms. Some believe that by showering it might put a lot of stress on your blood circulation or heart and possibly cause some serious illness.
- lip balm – but no matter how many times I applied, my lips were still chapped.
- body lotion – it’s dry up there – believe me.
- thermos or water bottle that can store hot water – In most of restaurants in Tibet you can refill hot water for free.
- energy bars – because when you’re taking a tour, sometimes it run out of schedule and you could missed your meal time. Or just in case you don’t like or allergic to local foods.
- a phone with good camera and selfie stick – I don’t think I have to explain why.
- dust mask – this important to cover your nose when you were in a dusty or windy place, and also for that smelly public toilets!
- comfortable shoes – just leave those high heels at home you’re not going to a mall! And most of the touristic places are not well-paved, so expect some dirt and maybe a little wet on your shoes.
- baidu apps – because goog|e is banned there. Although maybe some of us still can access it via VPN. Check your phone provider! baidu apps only works if you can understand Chinese.
- friend(s) to go with you! – it is not safe and harsh condition in Tibet. It is better to have at least someone to join you and to take care each other.
- positive minds – there will be unexpectable things happened during the trip. In my case there were accidents in front of our bus, hundreds of yaks suddenly decided to cross the road that caused the traffic jam. Bad weather that caused our bus to take detour route. Another tourist from our bus hit by a car when crossing the street caused another delay in our itinerary. Be positive and always open for plan-B is crucial.
What to expect;
- Dizziness caused by either high altitude or motion sickness. Please note road to Namtso lake wasn’t so smooth.
- AMS – please take care of yourself and try your best to avoid it – read my first paragraph.
- Thirst – As much as I really
wantedneeded to drink, but our bus would not stop that often for toilet breaks – it was not easy to find one. So most of the time I didn’t get enough water in a day and it caused me ulcers and sore throat.
- Filthy and stinky public toilet – even the paid public toilet where I expect someone to use the money to clean the toilet, but nada. Some of them are really – and I do mean REALLY – disgusting. Imagine to step inside a room where you couldn’t bear the smell, couldn’t bear to see your surrounding and don’t know where to step because you don’t want to step on something you shouldn’t step – you know what I mean.
- No-doors public toilet – I have to mentioned this again. Some public toilets have no doors. The wall was only 80-90cm height just enough to cover your jeans. Here I finally learned how to be a human door; standing in front of –what supposed to be the door– to cover my friend.
- Breathtaking views for the whole trip in Tibet – Something unforgettable you couldn’t find in your city life – green mountains, rocky mountains, snowy mountains, clean roads, colorful trees, lakes, lakes, and another lake, yaks crossing the road, cows crossing the road, goats crossing the road, sheep crossing the road, dogs crossing the road, human crossing the road, black pigs (consider it lucky if you saw a pink pig in Linzhi or Lhasa!), beautiful vernacular architecture, locals wearing unique Tibetan costumes, temples, monasteries, temples, some more monasteries, drooling giant puppies ready to take picture with you, colorful gravels on the way to Namtso, and many, MANY more.
FYI. When I took this trip, I was in my early 30s, I don’t usually exercise and this was not a hiking trip, I love to eat carbs and meats. I enjoy long naps and I breathe calmly. I don’t usually get excited, I take about 3.5Litre of water per day. I’ve never been to harsh country before, never been to China. I had severe food-poisoning 4 years ago where it almost killed me, and my 2nd night in Tibet I had my second severe food-poisoning but this time I was prepared with my medication. To know what I got from my Tibet trip, check out my older post here. ⊂(￣▽￣)⊃
If you have any question, go ahead and ask me! I’d be more than happy to answer.
I hope you have a pleasant trip to Tibet! (ﾉ≧∀≦)ﾉ ‥…━━━★