I’m in Lhasa, the capitol of Tibet!
It’s 3,700 meters high (almost 12,000 feet), and is in the middle of the Himalaya’s (the highest mountain chain in the world – the roof of the world). The people here are amazing! There are pilgrims who have walked hundreds of miles just to come to what they believe is the most holy city in the world! They have a great smile and have genuinely good hearts!
I’ve been here for just over a week and even though I’ve been sick since I’ve been here, it’s been a great experience. Here in Lhasa, I’ve mostly been hanging out and talking to these great people. I’ve been able to visit the Potala Palace, the old home of the Dali Lama, before he had to flee to Dharamsala (spl?), India (Cough, because of the current government). I’ve also been inside the most sacred temple in Tibet (I forgot the name, I’ll have to get back to you on that).
Lhasa is a strange mix though. It seems that China, in it’s extreme state of paranoia, is encouraging Chinese people to move here to “dilute” this beautiful culture. Some locals have told me that when the children grow up, after their education, that this culture will be “on it’s last leg”. A lot of children already care more about video games than there culture and religion. They (cough…the government) like to put a Chinese flag up near villages and some remote area’s, as a constant thorn in Tibet’s side. Besides that, the way the Chinese came here to begin with and the way they’ve (Tibetans) been repressed, these people are still positive! I wish them the best of luck.
I just returned from a four day bike ride with my friend Peter and Jenah (an American I met in Chengdu). We rented the bikes for 10 Yuan a day, or $1.25, bought a crappy map and started riding east (someone told us they went east and it sounded really cool!). We left way to late in the day (5:30pm – we’re on vacation!), ate dinner in a village 25 kilometers out of town and struck out trying to find a place to sleep there. We had no choice, but to ride on to the next village, 46 K away!
Needless to say, it was dark! We were cruising around on the Himalaya’s in what would have been pitch black, except for one of the clearest Sky’s I’ve ever seen (no moon that night). We stopped for a rest at 11:00 pm and a man happened to be walking by (don’t ask where he was coming from!). We asked him in travellers sign language, were we could sleep. He invited us to his house made from mud and Yak shit, and we happily excepted. Once again, he proved that these people are some of the most generous people alive. He had next to nothing, (his son about 2 years old didn’t even have pants to wear!) but he offered all he had. It was a great night that I won’t forget! We hooked him up with more money than we’ve paid at any other Guest House and then continued on.
It was 20 minutes to the next proper village (where we ate breakfast) and 25 K more to the next village, where we asked for a bed ( in travellers sign-language again) and to our surprise, were shown a killer G.H. (Guest House), for just 10 Yuan a night. It was a crazy “Wild” town, with horses, cows, yaks, dogs, and goats all over the place! The guys were all dressed like Cowboys (but looked like Indians)! We stayed there for two nights and climbed a 4,450 meter peak (Peter bought an altitude counter thingie) just outside of the killer “Wild” village we stayed at.
Yesterday, Jenah took a bus back, Peter and I were going to ride the full 98 K back, but Peter snuk a ride back with some monks after we were separated in a hail storm! I caught up with them (those bastards were eating lunch on the side of the road) about 25 K outside of Lhasa. When they hopped back into there tractor, they threw a rope out of the back and pulled me the rest of the way! What a great time! I’m still sick, but I’m loving it up here! We’re getting ready to head to Lake Namse, the highest salt lake in the world (they claim).
I’m not sure where I’ll head after that…