375m from the border
From the China's Tibet collection. See the link for all photos and the book.
From Kodari and the Chinese border we drove 15 minutes before hitting our first military checkpoint. Ideally situated beside a row of destroyed buildings.
This Valley was the last glimpse of the lush mountainous jungle that covers most of the sparse north of Nepal before ascending the plateau to high altitude desert. From here we drove three, maybe four hours uphill, clinging to cliffsides while the road hairpinned around and up so we were stuck to the back of our seats and the gorges dropped further and deeper into the mist. The road seemed needle thin and was unpaved. Because it was monsoon the landslides were a danger and there must have been dozens of waterfalls, all hundreds of metres long, some crashing across the road.
I missed the point where it happened because it got dark as we drove, but it all changed. From the misty green valleys with roaring water we emerged on a silent road and the stars were visible. After climbing so high you assume that you can only hit a peak and descend, a mountain needs more than one side, surely. But there we were driving on flat ground across a dusty, dry plain. Wide, and surrounded by rocky crags, but unmistakably flat.
4000m up and the Himalayas were behind us.