After returning to our hotel after the desert, Gunther and Yong Ha decided that they should start heading back to Beijing. Gunther's trip was running out of time (he never intended to go into Tibet). Yong Ha's girlfriend, an extremely patient girl who had been waiting for Yong Ha in Seoul while he traveled for an undetermined amount of time, had let him know that she had fallen ill. He told us that he had been traveling for eight-plus months and that he didn't know how much longer her patience would last. He was more than willing to give up Tibet in order to go and be with her. However, he told Tom and me that he would try to meet us in Kathmandu in two/three weeks time, if able.
So, it would be our last night together. The four of us had been traveling together for at least 12 days by this point (and encountered/endured situations that test the best in one's character). "Bonding" doesn't fully describe such times. It was clear that we would stay up as late as possible, drink beer, and play the last few hands of a marathon game of "shithead" that had begun the night we all met.
The night went as planned. A lot of laughs and Gunther being "shithead," "tete de merte" (French), "ddong muh ree" (Korean), until he gets a chance to redeem himself.
The next morning Tom and I said good-bye to Gunther and Yong Ha. We decided to continue our journey into the nether regions of Western China and wait for the Tibet suspension to end in a town called Golmud. Golmud is the last stop on the train before it heads into Tibet. The idea here being that we could avoid another 30+ hour train ride and see more of China while doing it.
It promised to be interesting, if nothing else.