Ups and Downs of Tibet


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October 8th 2010
Published: October 9th 2010
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Our tour busOur tour busOur tour bus

and a car that just about ran me over.
Re-typing all of my journal entries is starting to get a little tiring, so I am going to highlight the rest of the Tibet trip in just one long entry.

Up: On October 2, we drove to Ganden Monastery, which is high up in the mountains. We had to take a series of crazy switchbacks. It reminded me of driving from Southern CA to San Francisco in elementary school. At the top, we took a long, wonderful hike around the monastery. After our boxed hotel lunches, a group hiked up a really tall hill with prayer flags all over it. Audrey, Clare, and I went up only a short distance and lay down and took a nap on the grass.

Down: I got a really bad headache and felt sick from the altitude, the heat, and lack of water. I also got a terrible sunburn on my chest and arm that blistered a little bit.

Up: Audrey gave me Excedrin Migraine, and that and going down the mountain fixed me right up.

Down: After a few days, I am tired of visiting monasteries. They are all dark and dusty with paintings and incense and statues and lamps.
My groupMy groupMy group

taking tourist pics.
At the Drepung monastery a monk hit me three times with a metal plated stick. Its supposed to be a blessing or something.

Up: The tour guide took us to his wife's restaurant for lunch on the third. It was a dive. We had thick, handmade noodles and yak jiaozi soup. A family was sitting at the table next to us. Three little cousins talked to us the whole time, teaching us words in Tibetan and learning words in English from us. We also visited a nunnery and were allowed to look at one of the nun's bedrooms. It looked a lot like a dorm room, but darker and tidier. On the way back to the hotel, Mycal got into a dance off with a group of little Tibetan boys. They all had trucker hats perched on their heads and tried to break dance. A big group gathered around. Clare, Audrey, and I found a store that sold fabric, and they had plaid flannels, so we purchased some to bring back with us. We went to another tourist place for dinner, but were allowed to order what we wanted. Clare, Audrey, and I shared bobis, which reminded me of fajitas, and yak momos. After dinner we discovered that bargaining works best in pairs or groups. We got a lot of good deals.

Down: We stop for so many "photo opportunities" on this trip, it is ridiculous. On the fourth of October, we drove for six hours to get out to the rural area of Tibet.

Up: Adam and Ben stripped to their underwear at one of the stops and jumped into the freezing, glacier water lake. Clare, Audrey, and I played MASH in the back of the bus.

Down: Lunch was terrible! They burnt the tofu. There wasn't enough food for everyone.

Up: We stopped at a convenience store before getting back on the bus. I bought Dove chocolate and graham crackers with peanuts on them. Yum.

Down: My alarm didn't go off on the morning of the fifth, so I woke up about fifteen minutes before the bus was supposed to leave, and no shower for me. When I got to the bus, Audrey told me that she and Clare had woken up at 4 in the morning to a leaky roof and an inch of standing water on their floor. I also heard that Robert was really sick and had been coughing up blood due to the high altitude.

Up: Camping! After a small monastery and carpet factory in the morning, we went to our campsite. It consisted of several two person tents, a dining tent with a long table, a kitchen tent, and two bathroom tents that conceal holes in the ground. By the way, these are ten times better than the nasty rest areas with troughs, no doors on the stalls, and fees for using them. We had a cooking staff who made us a very good lunch. Then a group of us decided to film a movie during our free time. It is "The Yeti Project." We all have different stereotypical teen horror movie roles. Clare is the stoner, Mycal is the frat boy, Audrey is the valley girl, Scott is our professor, I am the nerd. The mountains, creek, and gas station on the side of the road made for a picturesque back drop. Clare, Audrey, and I performed our peacock feather ritual ceremony. We had hot chocolate, powdered pineapple juice and coffee in the dining tent, and dinner was just as good as lunch.

Down: Talk about cold! Even with jeans, shirt and jacket, socks and gloves, hat and hood, a sleeping bag and two blankets I was cold.

Up: More hot chocolate and instant coffee for breakfast. Scott and Adam rapped at me while I put jelly on my toast.

Down: We went to another monastery, and had to climb up a long hill to get there.

Up: The monastery was small. I felt exhilarated at the top of the hill, and we had a snow ball fight with the small patches of fresh snow at the top.

Down: Another six hour drive back to Lhasa. Our new room was not as nice. The shower was the whole bathroom, and couldn't decide whether to be hot or cold.

Up: The beds were still really comfortable. After dinner I bargained a warm, fleece jacket from 280 kuai down to 100 just by being stubborn.

Down: On Thursday I felt really exhausted. Even walking really slowly was very tiring.

Up: We had free time all day! I went with Kristiana when she got her traditional Tibetan dress from the tailor. We ate lunch with Clare and Audrey at a little hole in the wall restaurant. In the afternoon, I went with Clare and Audrey to the square with the giant golden yak statues in the middle of it. After dinner we filmed more of our movie, went to Dicos for ice cream and fries, and went back to the same bar to film another part of our movie.
We had free time again on Friday. A few people went on a four to five hour hike with Penbo. They saw a sky burial, which involves vultures eating dead bodies. I did not go. Instead I went shopping with Clare and Audrey. Clare found a trucker hat that said "Fuck in the Box" and bargained it down to 30 kuai. We had yak burgers with fries for lunch. YUM.

Down: Penbo thought that our flight left at six instead of eight thirty, so we got to the airport way to early. When he realized his mistake, we went to another monastery to pass the time.

Up: A lot of people were freaking out because we have a paper and a presentation due in the same class on Saturday evening. But I wrote my paper before I left and did all of my presentation research, so no freaking out for me. Just a plane trip and exhaustion. Time for a hot shower and bed back in Chengdu.


Additional photos below
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These white ladder paintingsThese white ladder paintings
These white ladder paintings

are all over the place. I don't know what they stand for, but I like them.
Switchbacks=whiplashSwitchbacks=whiplash
Switchbacks=whiplash

This is the road we drove up on. There is more of it, I just couldn't get it all in one shot.
SceneryScenery
Scenery

from the hike around the monastery.
The large ladies' clothing storeThe large ladies' clothing store
The large ladies' clothing store

So they have ugly clothes in normal sizes.


9th October 2010

<3
LOVE your Tibetan accounts. It sounds very interesting. What happened to the boy who was coughing up blood? Did he have to go to the DR? You are definitely 30% blue although it sounds like that number is going down. : )
9th October 2010

"At the Drepung monastery a monk hit me three times with a metal plated stick. Its supposed to be a blessing or something." LOL, you should feel blessed, no complaints.
10th October 2010

Robert
Coughing up blood is actually a pretty common system, I think. He felt better as soon as we got back to Chengdu.
11th October 2010

Laura how do you get people's comments to show up on here? none of my comments show up!
12th October 2010

I don't know
When I look at my own entries I don't see people's comments, so I think yours probably do show up for other people. Just not you.
13th October 2010

hello!!
LAURA!! sorry I haven't communicated with you in forever! I just read part of your blog and everything you are doing sounds really amazing. It's weird not having you here this semester. OH, I am working for the English department and so I see Allison who does the pamplin stuff in the mornings... when I heard from her that you made it in, and I was so excited my voice got really high pitched and Will Pritchard looked at me funny. Celeste and I did not make it in so we were super thrilled that you did, and we agreed that you were very well qualified! Anyway, continue to enjoy your travels! I am a little puzzled by the layout of the website and have no idea where this comment is going to end up, so I'll just send it and hope for the best.... hugs, Amanda
13th October 2010

Amanda!
I received your comment. I am also very confused about the layout of the website, but somehow it all seems to work out. I miss you and Celeste and Samira and all of Stewart! How is Stewart this year? What are the freshmen like? Is it a similar atmosphere? How are your classes? Who is Will Pritchard? Too many questions, I know. hugs back.
15th October 2010
The water is so blue!

Wow, so beautiful
Laura, what snow capped mountain is that in the background?
16th October 2010

I don't know.
But it isn't Everest

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