I am told and maybe it is correct that Lhasa is about 60 percent Chinese. I guess they come here because there are more jobs than in China Proper.
But what do they do in the Internet cafe always.
Play a game called "Counter Strike." It is a military game.
So they play this game, chain smoke cigarrettes, and I keep hearing.
"Fire in the hole"
Jeff and me leave by aiplane for Beijing tommorrow at 4:00 PM.
Man in village close to Mount Everest.
Somewhere up in the mountains of Tibet.
Topica.com and CNN are back up in China.
Someone said a caring government shut them down.
That is hogwash.
Tibet the land of Monasteries.
I go to the mountains for 3 more days of Monasteries.
I ought to feel holy by the time I am done.
Religious Tourism #1 in the world!
For those of you that are curious. There are times when the communications between the world and the USA are down. I am having trouble because Topica.com is not available, but either is CNN.com or a few others.
Andy in Lhasa, Tibet
...It is extremely helpful to understand that you refuse to meekly swallow what is presented to you. That is why I read the Andy Hobo blog everyday (or whenever you write something).Your writing is far, far, more valuable to me than any
Looney Planet Guide.
Reno, Nevada, USA
Photos of Katmandu, Nepal and tour from Katmandu to Lhasa, Tibet
I am freezing here in Lhasa, and Life is Good!
I have connected my computer to the connection in the Internet Cafe.
I am not sure which is faster, Lhasa, Tibet or London, England, but the connection is kicking.
Thanks also, because there are NO 3.5 floppy disk drives so far in the Lhasa, Internet, but all seem to be broadband.
I am trying to get the newsletter out and have about 500 photos to publish.
Priority number one today is to find a plane ticket or at least find where to buy and how much the ticket cost to Beijing, China. China is a little on the strange side when it comes to buying things, or communications. They do not talk pleasantly and helpful, but short, abrupt, and often just do not answer. A lot of this has to do with them not understanding English, but a lot of it is just cultural, and what we consider normal manners they consider unnecessary. But we will go bounce off people asking them questions until we find the location of an air ticket office. I was asking another traveler if they were controlled by the government, or are they subject to a free enterprise system of competition?
If there is free competition then there will be large price difference from place to place, but if all the airfares are controlled by the government I would think they would be consistently the same.
The girl looked at me like I was from another planet when I asked the difference, and she sort of acted like one should just walk into a ticket office and buy a ticket.
Jeff and me have been realizing that asking questions, or giving advice can get us into trouble socially, because we are the minority, and even if we are right we are wrong, or more correctly and this is the problem they treat us as if we are wrong, but they will agree in action, but not in tone of voice or words.
LHASA TIBET - WHY
Jeff and me had a discussion today with why all the travelers are fascinated with religions or Buddhism here in Tibet. Normally when a person talks about religion in other parts of the world they abhor the conversation, but here they seem to dwell on the various ways of worship and the various Gods.
I am under the impression, and I think Jeff is the same that the religion is so incomprehensible that they think it must be good.
LHASA TIBET DAY SIX - NO TOUR - MONDAY
I remain in bed this morning working on my computer and trying to get a newsletter completed. I have an extreme number of photos, something in the range of 700 for this week. The Internet café so far will not allow me to connect my computer directly, so I will have to copy all the photos on to 3.5 floppies and send them by FTP program to the Internet. This is a lot of data, and will take maybe three hours in the Internet café if everything goes perfect.
Jeff purchased a hot plate today and is trying to get it to function properly to heat his room. It cost 20 Yuan or about 2.5 dollars U.S. and will slowly heat the room by radiant heat. I have been using one for the last few days in my room, and used it Katmandu to keep my room warm. It works well when you are in a room for more than one day, but for only one night it is almost nothing. The room temperatures are right around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and mine is now up to 63 degrees. It is getting comfortable and tomorrow shall be toasty.
The main group or all the members or the tour went the Portala today, except for me as I have had my full of a Buddhist tour and would like a Tibetan cultural tour and less on the Buddhist noise. So far this tour has only been about Buddhist and I am not that interested in reality, but do think the monks are humorous.
I guess today they had a rock band inside the Monastery and Isabelle and Suraya got to share watching a rock band with the Monks.
TIBET DAY FIVE - ARRIVED IN LHASA TIBET
February 23, 2004 Lhasa 4:45 AM
Drive Gyantse to Lhasa via Yamdruk - Tso Lake O/N at Hotel Snow Land or similar - This is where the cheap tour members no longer have a designated hotel and so we stayed in the Bankol Shol, but Isabelle, Suraya, and the other stayed in the Hotel that was designated for them because they are still participating in the tour.
I woke up this morning thinking about the tour and full of stress. I am trying to think why? I know why. It is because I am thinking about a statement that Isabelle said to me last night when she noticed I was quiet.
We went into a 3-Star Western Food, made for tourist, English Speaking Waiter, with European music, and no locals to make us know we was in Tibet, with French Fries that cost one dollar, fifty restaurant last night to celebrate arriving and to discuss the what-nots of life of the tour. It is humorous that people can be so happy a tour is over, and then in the next breath say it is the best tours they have ever had.
But I digress, what Isabelle said was,
“Are you quiet now because you have nothing to fight about?”
If I had to take a tour like that on a regular basis I would go home and stop traveling forever. But I am very sad with myself that I felt a need to fight with the guide, hotel owners, and drivers. There was no fight actually, they just treated us like Animals, and I was telling them,’
“I am not an Animal.”
I am presently in a Hotel called the Bankashol in Lhasa. It is not part of the tour and is the best place I have slept in the last five days. I have a private room that cost 30-Yuan and a shared shower and toilet. For 70 Yuan I could have a Double room with a private bath and a heater inside the room. I have my own electric heater so the room is cozy. I had my first shower real shower yesterday in this Hotel with extremely hot water. I used a toilet that was not full of excrement and flushed.
I was in India for three months more or less and I can say that I never had such bad rooms as I had on this tour. What is bad is that Tibet is one of the cleanest, most modern places I have traveled in the last few years so far. Well that is for the under-developed countries. But this is a very modern country in many ways cut of a mountain range with people that live, and fight to live on that mountain range.
I have no idea what the name of the mountain range is, or the name of the rivers that I have followed the whole way from Nepal to Tibet. I barely know the names of the cities in which we stopped for the night.
I know a lot of people cannot stop thinking about the word Hobo and that they think I live like a bum. In reality I live better than most tourist and my life is sort of luxurious. I live in the cheap rooms, but know how to choose the best world of rooms for the cheapest price. But even more important is I know how to choose a room that is convenient to everything in a city, functions very well, safe, and has people of interest to discuss the world and enjoy as social life. I can only say that in the last seven years of travel the only worse living conditions were on the Amazon River, and they had better showers and toilets. But when I allow a company to be my guide I lived like an Animal for five days.
Tibet is a wonderful place. The scenery on this trip to Lhasa was spectacular and the indigenous people along the way had a culture I have never encountered in my life. The Buddhist monasteries along the way were so-so and you can go to Thailand and see a better strain of Buddhism, but there is a lot of fun in seeing Monks freezing there butts off on top of mountains, and watching basically atheist travelers experiences religious places in wonder. There appears to be only one person besides me in the group that has a family that has anything to do with religion. The group was full of good people, but to me there knowledge of religions is zero. They appear to understand the mechanics of religions, but they do not understand faith.
One of them said I needed to be respectful of the religions. What is stupid is that I was standing outside the room where everyone had just entered to get blessed and where a small red scarf was places around their necks. I refused to enter because I will not belittle or be disrespectful of this religion. They say this is not a religion, but if it walks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and swims like a duck, it is a religion to me.
Nobody in the group was disrespectful to the group, but if you paid a fee of five dollars to enter my church at home, and then went up to have communion with the preacher, I would call this making a joke of the church.
INTERMISSION - OR RESTROOM BREAK
It is hard to know how happy I am to walk into a toilet that has a light, is not full of excrement, and has a toilet that flushes. Oh and smells OK. The girls along the trip were borrowing cigarettes from Gary to smoke in the Toilet to cover up the smell.
BUDDHISM: From Encyclopedia Britannica
religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the Buddha Gautama (or Gotama), who lived as early asthe 6th century BC. Spreading from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, Buddhism has played a central role in the spiritual, cultural, and social life of the Eastern world and during the 20th century has spread to the West. This article surveys Buddhism from its origins to its elaboration in various schools, sects, and regional developments. 1
Ok, the encyclopedia calls it a religion and the majority of people on the tour group do not. I would all it a religion. I have just read in my Encyclopedia about Buddhism, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama, and the Portala Palace and finally have a clue what I am looking at, or why to stop at the monasteries along the way, and what the hell the “Portala” is that everyone is going to visit, but me today, because I have not heard one explanation from anyone as to the importance of a “Palace.” I am not sheep…. Hehehe
I WILL TRY TO SIMPLIFY THIS WHOLE TIBET THING!
Tibet was an independent country, but for the last 50 years more or less the Chinese have ruled the country. For what I think was centuries the “Dalai Lama” ruled the country as the spiritual leader and actual leader of the country. They believe that each Dalai Lama is reincarnated to become the next Dalai Lama, and so there is a line of leaders or Dalai Lamas, in much the same way as there is a King of England, and are numbered. So the Dalai Lama is like a King, but is also more of a religious leader, and the idea that he is “Holy” is sort of like the Pope can do no wrong. But like a King or Dictator he ruled the country, fought, and controlled his people by way of force and Buddhist religious doctrines. Aaagh… what a mess.
So we have this guy name Dalai that ruled as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, sixth, seventh, eighth and so forth down the line until the Chinese came in and more or less claimed the region in 1959, and the Dalai Lama ran for his life. He I guess was like “King” number 14 and is not in India in the city of Dharmsala, India. Who cares…?
WHO IS THE PRESENT DALAI LAMA IN EXILE - Encyclopedia
-1- The 14th in the line of Dalai Lamas, Bstan-'dzin-rgya-mtsho, was born in 1935 in Tsinghai province, China, of Tibetan parentage. He was enthroned in 1940 but fled to exile in India with a group of 100,000 followers in 1959, the year of the Tibetan people's unsuccessful revolt against communist Chinese forces that had occupied the country since 1950. The Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, in the Himalayan Mountains. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet. He wrote a number of books on Tibetan Buddhism and an autobiography.
So what you have now is a Monk in Exile that in many ways is supported by a lot of religious zealots from around the world and tries to disrupt the Chinese control of Tibet. He got the Nobel peace price, while his followers definitely seem on the violent side, and close to terrorist if not downright terrorist tactics. They do bomb and stage events of do things to hurt the Chinese Governing of Tibet. Now this has been going on for the last 50 years and is not just a yesterday event.
WHAT ARE THEY FIGHTING OVER?
In my opinion Tibet is just a bunch of stone mountains, with very lowly educated people. There are two very modern cities that I can see in the region, and probably are the result of Chinese occupation and not the Dalai Lama. There is an obvious path from India to Nepal to Tibet to Mainland China that would be great for trade between the huge population of China and the huge population of India. So in essence Tibet and Nepal are in the middle and in the way. Plus they are so mountainous and rough that the locals could never afford to put a good road from China to India. I am amazed at the engineering feat that has maybe and I am not sure been done to create a good road between Nepal and Lhasa. This road is 90 percent gravel, but is obviously wide enough and they look like they have been working on this road for the last 50 years. It would cost billions to create this road through a mountain range that has mountains like the highest in the world called “Mount Everest.”
So we are traveling from Nepal to Lhasa on a road that is obviously only at the gravel base level and still very much under construction. So essentially we was in an under-construction area for the last thousand kilometers. …. I will measure this on my atlas.
I would guesstimate the distance as about 800 - 1000 Kilometers, but you are silly to measure this distance in kilometers or miles, you should measure this in hours of travel time. It took us about 5 days of more or less hard travel. I am still confused on the count, and really need to review this to be certain of the time.
So all this fight is over a bunch of nothing, but land route or trade route between India and China. It does not appear to be used presently as there are almost no large trucks on the road, and only a few 4-wheel drives like the Toyota Land Rover we occupied. There is almost no traffic between the cities. This is all my opinion, and to me it seems that Tibet is best ruled by either India or China, and in some extreme points of view it could be Russia, but the people in the area could probably never pay enough taxes themselves to pull create and infrastructure of water, electricity, roads, and communication to bring themselves out of the dark ages.
There is an idea that people like to live poor and in the dark ages and if they had a choice they would stay as they have live for centuries. This type of Middle Class malarkey dooms a lot of civilizations to poverty, while there is obviously prosperity here in Lhasa and more densely populated parts of Tibet. I am sure that for the most part Tibetan farmers work from sun up to sun down and barely have one of the hardest lives on earth in terms of work to play ratios. The look beat, both by the weather and the life. They look happy, but I would compare this to part of Bolivia where I would recommend to the people to start walking until the life got OK, and not terrible. Farming on top of a mountain or on a rock is for the birds. As an Indiana Farm boy type this is the worst farm ground on the earth in my opinion, and that is almost all I see is farmers. I am sure the road construction crews are creating a lot of jobs.
HERE IS ROAD INFORMATION I FOUND
Before 1951 traveling in Tibet was done either on foot or on the backs of animals. Coracles (small boats made of wicker and hides) were used to cross the larger rivers. The Tibetan government obstructed the development of modern transportation to make access to the country difficult for outsiders. For trading, the Tibetans relied on the centuries-old caravan routes leading to Lhasa, of which the most important were from Tsinghai (via Na-ch'ü) and Szechwan (via Ch'ang-tu), India (via KalYmpong and Ya-tung); Nepal (via Skyid-grong and Nya-lam rdzong); and Jammu and Kashmir (via Leh and Ka-erh).
Under the Communist Chinese, a network of roads was constructed, notably the Tsinghai and Szechwan highways. Additional trunk roads have been constructed that connect Tibet to Sinkiang, Yunnan, and Nepal. - 1 -
ECONOMICS PARAPHRASED OF TIBET
Tibet has four major way to make money to live or wealth.
1. Minerals and ores that is almost unreachable.
2. Farming of Barley, Beans, and Mustard.
4. Hydro-Electric power.
All of these are very difficult to access because of the mountains and in my opinion they are still 10-20 years of China investment away from using to any real value.
Here is a quote out of my encyclopedia that best summarized or portrays the situation when the Dalai Lama controlled the country and what has happened after the Chinese have taken control.
“Before 1951 traveling in Tibet was done either on foot or on the backs of animals. Coracles (small boats made of wicker and hides) were used to cross the larger rivers.”
“For trading, the Tibetans relied on the centuries-old caravan routes leading to Lhasa,”
It is an obvious no-brainer to understand why the United Nations or the rest of the world did nothing when the Chinese occupied the country of Tibet. There were probably some great backroom discussions on this topic of Tibet that would have been fun to hear.
I could imagine them saying,
“Yes, the Chinese are very brutal in their methods, but as the situation stand now the people live in abject poverty ruled by a religious zealot that lives like a King in the Portala, his winter palace supported by freezing peasants.”
“Yep, that is true, and now he is on the run taking with him 100,000 people to keep him living up to standard, and appealing to us to protect him and his Peasant / King relationship that dooms has doomed his people to the most harsh of lives for centuries.”
“So, if we let him look good. The Dalai Lama, get him the peace price and keep him famous so he is happy, look the other way to the Chinese, then this area will open up in the next 100 years and leave the life of the donkey and allow the people to afford to eat, have water, electricity, and a warm home. Is this what you are telling me?”
“Yes, but we are walking one of them political tightropes because the rabble of the world is incapable of understanding the big picture and only can see the Chinese killing some Peasants.”
“Plus who would believe or would accept the Dalai Lama the holy of holy could just be a King or maybe a Dictator in reality? The normal public cannot open their eyes to the reality of how religious figures like the Pope and Dalai Lama live like Kings, and really are Kings for the most part and keep their constituents poor and ignorant so they do not revolt.”
“OK, so do we agree? We get the Dalai Lama to look good, allow the Chinese to manage this tough area, and in the Future there will open up trade between India and China and the prosperity that will follow will help the world forget.”
“Yes we agree, but keep this conversation under wraps!”
A GOOD LEADER
I do not really care who runs a country or the type of government, but I do like to see people happy and living as they wish. An underdeveloped nation does not want to be poor, and does not know how to bring themselves out of poverty. Normally the reason they are poor is because a King, Queen, Dictator, Dalai Lama, a Cleric or some other leader keeps themselves rich and the people poor. A good one makes his people prosper, as well as themselves.
I keep is simple when looking at countries as being good or bad countries.
Good countries are difficult to enter, and very few people leave.
Bad countries every one leaves and never returns, but the world will not let them enter because they will never go home.
People from good countries travel to the poor or bad countries and say how good life is there and the tour operator wish to keep it the same so they can sell the poverty tours.
AFTER CHINA RULE
I do not know what it was like before China occupied, but I can say that Tibet is on the rise and has a bright future, as the Chinese Government become more diplomatic in their rule, and the free enterprise and prosperity enters Tibet by way of the new highway I just traveled the world can come and visit Tibet and the people will thrive in a heated home, and hopefully those extremely dry, and windblown faces, with what appears to be permanent wind and sun burned cheeks will be replaced by happy faces where they can think about MTV and CD ROMS and they can ride in warm Toyota Land Rovers and visit the world as I do.
The people of Tibet will continue to complain, but I do not see them lifting a hand to stop the Chinese from giving them a better life. I am sure the Dalai Lama will eventually die and the world will forget, and I am absolutely sure that tourism to Tibet will increase. But for now it is some good and useless conversation for the most part, and I see happy faces on the Tibetan people, and do not feel a repressed soul, but feel an optimistic people and happy for their future.
I am very grateful to be born in Indiana, and to come from the USA where we have it so good we spend our whole time sitting around in the local coffee shops complaining about the president, or why life is so bad, never once worried about whether there is heat in the home, or having to take a donkey cart from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Indianapolis. Life is good.
Travelers and Tourist will enter Tibet and talk of “Free Tibet” for the next one hundred years, but who cares as they are just visiting and they do not have to live here in Tibet. Misery sells better than prosperity.
I would not recommend anyone but the most sturdy of travelers to take the trip from Katmandu to Lhasa. It is a painful trip, but very beautiful. I have no idea why you would fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa to see Tibet, as you would miss the soul of this country. I think the boy on a donkey cart, full of pride, and strong, looking me in the eyes, as any equal would, will always be burned onto my brain. These are some hard people living a hard life, but with a good future full of pride and hope.
I think the tour operators are animals and would sell their grandmas to make a dollar. Tibet is modern, has toilets, heaters, water, and 4-Star Hotels so demand a good room, warmth, and comfort in your trip. Do NOT under any circumstance buy this crap that the place is poor, and that you must accept animalistic treatment because you are in Tibet. They have great Hotels along the way.
What our tour operators did is put us in CLOSED for the Winter Hotels with no water for he winter and expected us to use a toilets with no water and standing in our own excrement. Then opened the restaurant in the cold and expected us to pay western money prices for over priced bread. All of this going on while I truly believe there was a Hotel down the street with Hot water and a toilet that flushed. Plus some water to wash our faces, and hands. This was all under the idea that the conditions of Tibet are harsh, and you must accept the crap they sell, but they lie. There is not spiritual high ground in having no pride and accepting being treated like animals. This is what has happened to the people of Tibet for centuries and they are just doing to you what has happened to them for years. Like the abuse child that abuses their child, they repeat the cycle.
I do not every advise a person to accept less than they wish, there is not good reason in the world of my travels that you should enter a toilet full of excrement.
Jeff chose the correct tour to enter Tibet and our fellow tour members that paid for the first class tour got the screwing of their lives. But as long as people will allow themselves to be treated like animals, then there will continue to be animals that rule them.
TIBET DAY FOUR - Xigatse - Gyantse
AM Visit Tashilunpo Monastery and the Free Market
PM: Proceed to Gyantse to Visit Khumbhum Stup and Phalkor Monastery O/N at Hotel Uste
MISSED BACKSIDE OF EVEREST
We could have actually seen the Tibet side of Everest and we were not made aware. Jeff and me were not in the same car as the other group that had the guide in their car. They requested the driver to stop and he would not because he said it was cloudy. This is real crap and a major reason to take the land tour.
WOKE AND UNDER THE COVERS
I woke today at 6:30 as best I can tell or remember. I am sitting under a huge comforter and wrapped in my minus 10-Celsius sleeping bag. What I mean is that I am typing this morning on my computer under the covers that is a little tent like you would do as children. Jeff is still sleeping and I am an early riser, he is one of them got-to-brush-my-teeth and got-to-get-my-sleep types so do not want to push the envelope and have to listen to him talk too much about me waking him up. Plus it is just warmer under this tent of comforters.
I am cleaning up and rotating my photos so when I hit the first Internet Café in Lhasa I can publish the photos for my friends, the others in the tour group can send the links to their friends at home. As best I can tell we will somewhat be together as a group for another two to five days after we arrive in Lhasa.
There almost for sure been Internet in the city we are presently visiting, but we are not situated or provided with adequate time or transportation to locate. Plus the guide and drivers cannot be bother with anything but the most crucial of needs.
Just made me think that I am going to start a list of things a guide or tour company in my opinion should provided as minimums.
Daily Plans Update: Whether at night or in the morning the guide should tell the group where, why, what and how we are doing things for the day.
Heat, Shelter, Food, Showers: Explain to the groups how these can be best attained for the group and their choices.
Money Management: A tour guide should provide opportunities to collect cash from ATM’s or Exchange companies and tell them when the next or where they will be available.
Contacting the Guide: The guide should make it clean how they can be contacted at all times and where they are sleeping in the event of an emergency.
Written Itinerary with Contact: There are tours and sub-contracted parts of the tours that may be handled by various companies. There should be a written Itinerary given by all guide on their leg of a trip so that all members of the tour are working off the same trip schedules.
Aagh.. The carbon dioxide is building up under this comforter tent; I am going to have to breath some fresh air. Jeff is wiggling and making noise and a rooster is crowing. There is hope he will wake and get out of bed. I really do not like sleeping in rooms with other people; I am always up 2-4 hour before them.
Safety Explained: A tour company should provide information on dangers and solutions to anticipated problems.
(I am in Tibet presently writing this and half the group has a headache, and one German man is very sick. He did not go with us to the Monastery because of he severity. It could be because of altitude sickness, food or water, or possibly motion sickness because the road is terribly bumpy. The altitude sickness can be very dangerous.)
NOTE: NONE of these things are provide on the standard tour as booked from Katmandu to Tibet. The way they book tours in Katmandu is that all the companies will sell the tours and all will sell at different prices. They then bring them all together in one group and one tours so no one is really getting any different tours than the other companies provide. The extreme difference is the price and the explanations of the tours.
I made a new link with all these ideas and will add to it as I realize other ideas. It is easiest to do this type of tip in real time as I am experiencing the frustrations of being in a tour and not wracking my brain later for what happened.
I asked him,
“What woke you, me typing or the rooster?”
Clarification: Jeff is not so much a got-to-get-his sleep type, but he is aware of how much he sleeps, and could itemize the days when he gets sleep. But for some of you non-traveler or wanna-be travelers you need to be aware that there are some extreme versions of this and Jeff really wakes up EARLY. Hello Jeff’s Mom… hehehe
So beware if there a companion or person you want to travel with and they the extreme version of got-to-get-their-sleep-types leave that home.
TIBET DAY THREE - Lhatse to Xigatse 3.5 Hours - 3900 Meters
The name of the city on Isabelle’s Itinerary is spelled Shigatse.
The first class group stayed the night in the Hotel Everest Friendship, and the cheap tour stayed in the dormitory behind the hotel.
Sitting here in a cold room, but have finally got a real shower for the first time in three days, I cannot say it was part of the Hotel or package because I had to pay five Yahn or whatever they call this money here for the shower. But I did get a shower, and that is good, I am starting to think that the bodily cleanliness of Tibet is on the same par as India, but overall Tibet is extremely clean. They just seem to have trouble with the idea that a shower should be included a room. Five people paid for the deluxe tour while me and Jeff are on the cheap one, so they was not so happy.
10,000 Rupees for 11 day tour for two people.
1250 Dollars for two or 625 each.
This means they are paying 57 Per day to live in about the exact same quality of room as me and Jeff… Snafu
Today we arrived at the room and the Fancy Hotel was chained shut and closed for the winter, they opened the doors finally, but there is no heat, showers, or toilets. There is no water in the room of the 57 Dollars per day…. Hehehe Jeff and me are paying about 25 dollars per day, although both do include the price of the transportation also.
The mountains today turned from interesting to more or brown gravel like rounded mountain range and flatter in many ways. It was fun, and the trip was much shorter.
Arriving in what is suppose to be the second largest city in Tibet I was very surprise to enter a very modern city with street lights, stop lights, signs, wide boulevards and sidewalks. This place even has fire hydrants. I hope Tibet is not calling themselves poor!
The country is a tough place at this time of year and they do have to work hard to stay warm and this show in their faces and eyes.
As always in the world another religious shrine is the tourist attraction and for 55 Yuan we got to enter. I despise paying to enter religious places and consider this the selling of God, but lots of people could find God quicker if they purchase him or her. It sort of makes the need for a lot of respect loose it value when you have to pay. They charged another 75 Yuan if you want to take a photo of the Mammoth Buddha. I am going to take a photo of a postcard, and no one opted to pay, so now one has photos of the biggest tourist attractions.
There were some real oohs and ahs about the place, and I am sure that a couple had never been in what you feel is holy place. I do not personally feel like Buddhist Temples are Holy, and more or place with shaved head boys walking around. But the chanting prayer things today was cool, and I was having fun playing with the Monks.
At first a few of the other in the tour were standoffish or avoided the Monks like they was Holy and they soon realized they was people when they asked,
“Which country are you from?”
Or when the one got a call on his Mobile telephone.
Monks for most part are a bunch of boys in long clothes and like to goof around and have fun. I almost have never seen very many older Monks as I think most just get an education and then leave the Monastery.
Buddha is a lot different here than in Thailand and looks different.
The Monastery was good fun with the group as we could laugh and talk and observe.
I did see one girl having a “Spiritual Moment.”
I think it is the chanting, it is sort of hypnotizing to people and they seem to real be in wonder at the site of people being Holy. I told them to meet my parents because they are saints.
HOW DO I FEEL
I wish God were doing a little better with people so they did not stand in such wonder at people being or may trying to be spiritual. I suppose that I should be happy that they were moved, but for me it was just another religious shrine being used by the Monks for non-religious reasons. It is kind of funny feeling to hand over 55 Yahn to a Monk in full costume as an entrance fee.
I do feel frustrated about this situation, as there is pressure to chant, and act, or do whatever these places do.
I some time just say politely,
“I am a Christian.”
I do not need a new religion, and think it does ok for me.
But I am not having any arguments with the good Gods of the world, and do not need to hide or search for God.
The people on this tour are genuinely good people and I am not worried about the bunch, but I can say to all the crazy drugged up hippies looking for God in India that there is definitely more God in this Monastery than I felt in all of India, so come on up to Tibet. I do not expect them soon as there are zero drugs as best I know.
The tour is mostly a slight of hand in way for a method to enter Tibet. We cannot enter Tibet, as best I understand without being with a tour group so this is why I am with a tour group. So Jeff and me paid the Minimum and are getting the same service as those that paid the maximum. That is basically almost nothing.
I read the riot act the Guide today on the shower bit,
“We are not animals! Do you take shower?”
She got the message and we found out how to shower. I could see looks of disapproval from a couple of the women on the trip, (Not that I care) that I came down hard on the guide. She is a sweet girl, but I went on to explain that,
“Underdeveloped countries are MINIMAL countries, they give you the minimal they can provide in service for the maximum amount of money. If you do not complain they will give you even less.”
Complaining worked on us getting the whole tour when they was trying short us on one of the days and now it work on them providing a method to shower. The guide had looked a few times into my eyes.
You only get out of life what you expect.
TIBET TOUR DAY TWO - Zhangmu to Lhatse 9 Hours 4359 Meters
The group in the tour is traveling along in two Toyota Land Cruisers north into Tibet towards the city of Lhasa with would be considered one of the principal cities in Tibet. The trip has been great and I am probably driving Jeff crazy with my comment that this group of people is one of the best traveler groups I have encountered in seven years of travels. I would say one of the primary reason I avoid large groups, or tours in general is that I do not like to listen to snide remarks about me being American. Most American travelers just go along with these insults but I face them head on, and they will cause problems. But this group is an exceptional group, but most of the stonies and druggies do not go to the more cultural places like Tibet and they cannot drink or drug.
We took off in the morning after a breakfast of a Pancake, French Fries, Jam, a Roll, and Tea. The rooms are very sparse and they do not have showers. There is a wash basin like an old western movie that you can wash your face and hands, but to actually shower seems to not exist so far. I do not believe the locals shower. So none of us had a shower and I was definitely having a bad hair day, and it looks so far like I will not shower for the next three days or so. Not my idea of fun.
So we roll along in this 4-Wheel Drive and spend time talking. I am sharing the car with:
Jeff my friend from the USA or California
Stephanie from France
Gary From Liverpool England
Carolina from Spain, but has lived in England for years.
Fone the driver
Plus me of course.
We took off at 9:30 am and started on a bumpy ride to a city called Lhatse or maybe Lhazi about 300 Kilometers away. A few of the group have itineraries and none of them seems to agree and the people that sold the tours have all told different versions. It is always a comedy of errors in the world when we speak different language and tolerance of inconsistencies and of course bullshit that is told to us by the tour companies that are trying to sell tours.
How am I going to describe this cold trip? Hmm. This place if full of mountains and we are or seem to always be following a river. I actually think, but because I was not paying attention or more correctly was not realizing it would be important did not notice the flow of rivers. But on the first part of the day I think the river was flowing back towards Nepal and as we finally reached the highest pass of 5300 meters the river reversed itself and starts to flow towards Lhasa.
So I think we climbed the mountain to something like the great divide to the origin of two rivers. I think the idea of a origin or source of a river is silly to look for, as I think you could say the area is the source of the river but in reality whatever water or snow runoff is on one side the mountain flows downhill one direction and whatever is on the other side flows the other directions, but the last this a mountain range does run in straight lines. A mountain range is full curves and jagged corners, and who really wants to spend time looking for water that started as a drop of melted water and started to travel down hill with gravity. How am I going to say which drop of water is the source of origin of the river?
But we are traveling along a flowing river and sometime a frozen river in a very harsh climate that is really on the silly side for people to live, but being that people are silly they still live in the most extreme areas of the world. I can say that some of the most beautiful places in the world are the worst places to live. This is a city kids delight for a person that never seen the mountain.
I have seen a lot of mountains, and a lot of rivers, but this is a unique trip as I also am seeing lot of people that are very unique in the world for me. They have permanent looking rosy cheeks from the cold, and dark skin, and they smile and do not have any idea about us, and we do not have any idea about them. They seem to be playful and happy and also have pride. This is good, because they are, or I think they are meeting us as equals and not a superiors or upper or lower class. Lots of countries spend way too much time sucking up to the travelers and treating them as it they are special, this so far seems to be an equal give an take, sort of like Brazil to me. I never felt like the Brazilians could care less whether I was there or not. This is equality when you do not put on special efforts when you meet another culture.
The Tibet people or whomever we are really talking with are a happy people in a strange desolate place. Living on top of mountains and living by farming I think. We was asking a man that spoke English why some of the somewhat cowboy types that had came to the town and were packing up their horse carts on if they came to sell or buy. Actually it was not me that ask this question as why would a person travel from the top the mountain by Horse cart to only buy, and how do you buy when you do not have money?
We got to the bottom line, they did not buy or sell, they traded for things. It had very little to do with currency or cash, but more like I have some rice will you give me some kerosene, or something like that. This is a may more towards a barter economy, but if you only value money then Tibet is poor, but it seem to have a lot of Yak Meat and Rice.
What do I know for sure about Tibet? It is Cold! Why do people not work for the “Heat and Shelter” part of Maslow hierarchy of needs, but these people seem to not be working on the heat part.
This is a rough country, similar to Bolivia.
If you did not know, there is a movement that is about 50 years to stop the China occupation of Tibet. Now who really cares whether Tibet is occupied, or is it really occupied. It appears that the normal person here does not care whether they are occupied or not. But I am not here to figure this out; I am here to learn about their culture for fun, and to see the uniqueness of people.
I did take some great photos of people putting up Flags to Free Tibet and I hope the world is great place.
So what is the trip about? I about going around curves back and for the up and down and freezing and riding on bumpy road and looking at people with strange clothes.
DAY ONE - DRIVE KATMANDU TO ZHANGMU
The first day of the trip we took a bus from Katmandu at 7:30 AM and went to the border. We slept in a Hotel just on the other side of the border.