Monday, May 29, 2006

Log/Pic 9 Tibet

So this first picture is left over from Nepal. It is two of the six rhinos we saw while riding the elephant through the jungle-an amazing experience. One of the rhinos was bathing in a mud hole.
This is the famous Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It holds the tombs of the 5th through the 9th Dali Lama. Each is covered in gold and precious stones-very impressive. This, like many of the monastaries and temples we visited in Tibet, housed many monks. At one place, we witnessed monks having an intense ceramonial test that lasted 12 hours. My most memorable experience was when two very old monks stood up to take my hand after I said "tashi delet" (hello) to them. As they grasped my hand and said a few words i did not understand, they began to smile and pull at the hair on my arms-priceless!

This is Mt. Everest (for photo see website).We saw some great views of it and made it to the lodge (shack) that house people who wish to climb to base camp. This was the intention of Punda and myself, but I'm embarassed to say that altitude sickness kicked my ass. It was 4950 meters (you do the math). On the way up from China/Nepal border we had reached altitudes of up to 17.000 feet (no need to do the math). I had a pounding headache for at least three days, could not eat, and towards the end I could not take a deep breath-very scary. We both admitted we could not climb up the last 1000 feet to base camp. I'm already over it-it would have been nice though.
Before Lhasa, we had to go seven days across Tibet. We drove a jeep with our driver Teshi and our guide Tensing. We drove from Katmandu and these are some of the things we saw. Tibetan people were spotted in the middle of nowhere, many miles from any sign of a village.
A Tibetan boy with the traditional runny nose. As an adult this boy will advance to coughing up a lung biscuit and spitting it wherever he sees fit.
Nothing comes between a man and his yak. We had many opportunities to take these pictures as the jeep broke down 11 times- one for each day we were in Tibet).
This is one of the many villages we passed on the week-long drive. The houses were made of mud and dung. Many times we would see them mixing and making these bricks and laying them out to dry.
Before I arrived in Tibet I decided I wanted to ride on a yak. At a pass around 15,000 feet, I got my chance. Here is me bonding with the yak before I attempt to mount it-always a good idea. Of course I had to find out from the nice old Tibetan man how much yuan he was going to charge me!
The majority of this drive was dirty, bumpy, rough and filled with potholes. My mouth was full of dust and I kept a headache, stayed dizzy with chills or fever. However, we did see some great views-especially towards the end.

Here are some Tibetan children in Tingri, one of the small towns we stayed in along the way. The guest house smelled so bad we could not sleep. The hole for a bathroom that everyone shared was so disgusting that others had thrown up in it. Punda and I made our own bathroom out back. I don't think anyone would notice. One note about the kids in Tibet, at least the very young ones; their pants have slits in them like crotchless panties. I will try to send a photo next time. I know you can't wait.

I loved Nepal and all the people, especially in Lhasa. Punda and I felt like celebrities. We got stares from everyone and was often invited to sit down just so people could try and either talk to us or more often, just look at us-and much of the time laugh. So many people would rub my arms, legs, and often my beard-men, women and of course the children.

The first night in china we did not make it through the three check points in time and had to stay in this hotel by the border just over the Frienship Bridge. The local T.V. station was there doing some international thing on tourism and the crew asked if we would roll play. Thats two countries we are famous in!

When leaving china this morning, I was pulled to the side by security because he spotted a pair of scissors in my carry on through the x-ray machine. I had bought them a couple days prior to cut the mustache hairs from growing from my lip into my mouth. I was really shitting when he found my knife that I usually put in my bag to check. Not only did they not tackle me and throw me in a Chines jail, the guard escorted me back to where you check the bags to allow me to put it in mine. I didn't make it and had to donate it, but it was a small price to pay.

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