Lhasa Travel Blog› entry 10 of 22 › view all entries
We exited the plane in disbelief that we had finally made it to Tibet despite the numerous obstacles we encountered, due to the current political climate, throughout the past few months. We were surrounded by quite an eclectic crowd: Chinese men and women, Tibetans, a few Buddhist monks, and several soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army. After collecting our luggage, we ventured out into the cool, dry air of Tibet, a welcome change from Chengdu's humidity, to meet our tour guide, Ross. Ross is a young Tibetan (probably in his twentiess) who attended a university in Beijing to learn the English language, and then he returned home to lead tours for foreigners.
After being draped in white scarves, to bring us good luck, we began the hour-long drive to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to find our hotel. Along the ride, Ross pointed our some elementss of traditional Tibetal architecture. The homes and buildings are traditionally painted white, but they have brightly colored doorways and windows. The doors and windows are often small in size, making it difficult for evil spirits to enter into the home.
We arrived at our Tibetan hotel, in the outskirts of Lhasa, where we were told to rest for the remainder of the day so that our bodies can acclimate to the 13,000 ft elevation. The thought of sitting inside a hotel room when I was in Tibet seemed absolutely preposterous, but since Ross had left for the day and Jason was already experiencing altitude sickness, off to the room we went. Since we had been up since 4 a.m. and Jason had a severe altitude headache, we reluctantly fell asleep for a few hours.
At around 6 p.
The view outside of our hotel was stunning. We walked along the Lhasa River, one of Tibet's holy riverss, which was lined by colorful prayer flags and flanked by majestic mountainss. We pased many Tibetan women, draped in long and colorful cloths, who reverently spun prayer wheels in a clockwise direction, releasing the prayers, written on paper inside of the wheel, to the heavens with each spin. They also held prayer beads, which they skillfully manipulated in their other hand. Everywhere we walked, we were greeted by the friendly Tibetans with cheerful "hello's," the one English word they seemed to know. After walking through some of the busy streets, we entered a market to buy some snacks that would later serve as our dinner. At nearly every street corner stood four or five soldiers in the People's Liberation Army, keeping a close eye on their surroundings. The sweet smells of a bakery soon caught our attention, so we decided to purchase a muffin and a pastry. The baker's young daughter stood by, fascinated by us. She was all smiles and giggles and seemed to find it funny that these two strangers were buying pastries from her mother.
Our bodies stil adjusting to the new climate, we walked back to our hotel and were in bed by nine o'clock.