EMAIL: Greetings from Lhasa
Lhasa Travel Blog› entry 5 of 16 › view all entries
A short note to say we arrived in Lhasa this morning. Ecstatic that our hotel room looks straight up at the Potala Palace. We're suffering from mild altitude sickness with heart palpitations, loss of breath and headaches ... the first two symptoms hit us as soon as the aircraft doors opened. After all, we're at over 12,000 feet.
All our travel arrangements went well. From Auckland, we had a night-stop in Hong Kong before flying to Chengdu via Bangkok. During our short half-day (and overnight) stay in Chengdu we had paid for our Tibet arrangements. Somewhat scary as we had organised things on the internet and paid a deposit via international bank transfer to someone we didn't know. Nice that he turned up to collect the remaining money and give us nothing but a receipt. He appeared very genuine and we were pleased to be picked up at 0530 this morning to go the airport for our flight. So, we haven't been duped ... we paid half the price that we would have paid if purchased from NZ, and are getting double the duration!
The flight to Lhasa was the biggest collection of Westerners I had ever seen in China. I think the idea of visiting Tibet is of tremendous appeal to many. Even in Chengdu, the gateway to Tibet, people more spoke more (ie. a little) English than we had ever encountered before. The flight itself was an experience as we flew continuously over mountains for 2 hours ... the Tibetan Plateau. Plateau suggested flatland to me but it was full of snowy peaks ... I guess it is all relative as that would have been about 15,000 feet high at least.
Lhasa is a mix of old and new. With the Potala Palace as a backdrop, there modern shops and department stores on the main drag. There's a whole block of mobile phone shops. There is good GSM coverage here, and CDMA is starting up. But would I have anything apart from GSM? We landed at the airport (some 90km from the city) and found that our guide was not there ... he was a bit late farewelling his previous tour party. So we rang our organiser in Chengdu just like that. As a colleague of mine said last week, "GSM rules the world".
Our tour party consists of the both of us and one American woman who is really well travelled. How is that for personal service. We have a Tibetan guide and a Chinese driver at our disposal.
Bye for now.