Back to Lhasa and Lake Yamdrok

After yesterday’s work we had nothing on our tour program except to return to town. Which we did with several toilet stops. Since the air was so dry we had to drink a lot. And as long as you can pee you don’t have a health issue or so according to Dr. Sylvia. Whatever, we were all very healthy.

We made it back to our hotel and after a power nap of 2 hours we once again took the bus downtown. As I said before Sylvia was fed up with Chinese food so we went to Lhasa kitchen (the restaurant from the first day) again. There in the dining room was also an old picture of Lhasa on how it had looked before it was remodeled into a Chinese satellite city.IMG_1828
On the way into town we had noticed at the bus stop a coffee place where someone spoke German.IMG_1830 IMG_1831 But on the way to it I saw a street seller with a bracelet I liked and haggled with her until the price was right. And what a surprise, Sylvia bought it for me as birthday gift, so I will have something from her with me for the rest of the trip! I think she would have preferred to travel further with me, but now the bracelet will do it in her stead.IMG_2831

And it was to this German café that we went after dinner to enjoy a cup of excellent coffee and a cheese cake made from yak curd. Delicious!! The owner of the little place had lived for 15 years in Switzerland and also in Vorarlberg. It was such a pleasure to talk to someone in German here. Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Lhasa.IMG_1967

After coffee we went home and that was it for day 5 in Tibet. Suddenly it was already our last full day. Since we had had enough of the monasteries we had asked on the second day for a change and instead of seeing more religious places we went to see Yamdrok lake.

Another scenic drive awaited us and we made several stops on the way (also for the police when necessary).IMG_1833 IMG_1836 IMG_1837 IMG_1843 IMG_1848 IMG_1855 IMG_1856 IMG_1862 IMG_1865 IMG_1867 IMG_1868IMG_1871 IMG_1872 IMG_1963 IMG_1880 IMG_1881

The lake was beautiful but since the sky was a bit overcast the view was lacking. Still we had a good time taking more pictures and it was clearly preferable to more monasteries. At the pass it was so quite cold and Sylvia said that she saw flurries in the air. It was definitely nippy at 4441m.IMG_1882 IMG_1883 IMG_1966 IMG_1895 IMG_1896 IMG_1900 IMG_1915 IMG_1917 IMG_1920 IMG_1921 IMG_1922

We drove back to the hotel and agreed on a time for our ‘Welcome Dinner’. Since we had missed to do that on the second evening we made it into a farewell dinner.

Another bus ride into the city (by then we felt like locals) and we met Dundhup at his favorite tea house in the center. Restaurants have a grading system A to C with A being indicated with a green smiley and C with a red mean face, ours had a C (probably already a health hazard).

We were greeted by our guide at the door and set down at a table on which a rag laid that I wouldn’t even use to clean the toilet. But here it was good enough to clean the table and also to stay on it for the entire dinner. And still the food was yummy, so we all need to relax with the hygiene standards.
We each had a soup (mine with yak) and then rice with more vegetables. It was served with pickled radishes which were so good that Sylvia asked for seconds and thirds (and then drank the pickle juice).IMG_1972
Then it was time to make the bus ride home while Dundhup jumped on his electric bike with a pink license plate! Yours, Pollybert

IMG_1973 IMG_1974

Advertisements

Lhasa city

After a really bad night for both of us, I took a pill for my headache and we went in search of breakfast. This turned out to be in another building of the hotel and offered interesting choices. I tried these steamed breads filled with meat or cabbage (very good) while Sylvia nursed her stomach with tea and toast. IMG_1510IMG_1511Right on time our guide Dhundup picked us up and we drove to the highlight of the day, the Potala Palace. There were lots of pilgrims that day since it was a two-day religious festival (don’t know what for). These out of townies circled the Potala palace all the while saying a mantra and using their prayers mills.IMG_1514 IMG_1517 IMG_1518
Dhundup had our visa with him and we had to show the passports to enter. It really was a very different world.
We made the long trek up to the palace with a couple of breaks. The air here was thin and it took a while to get used to it.IMG_1523 IMG_1524 IMG_1528
The red part of the palace was the older part from the 7th century and the religious part while the white buildings were from the 17th century and were political buildings. Nowadays the palace is of course some kind of museum and most of the 2000 rooms are closed to the public.

I have no pictures from the inside since in most palaces and monasteries it was forbidden and if allowed you had to pay for it. But since the money goes right away to the Chinese government and not the monastery I was never willing to pay.IMG_1679 IMG_1531 IMG_1534 IMG_1536 IMG_1545

Lunch stop was at the Lhasa Kitchen where we had soup and Momos (Sylvia) and soup and a flat bread stuffed with yak meat. IMG_1550 IMG_1552 IMG_1551 IMG_1553

From there we went to the Jokhang Temple right in the city center (and only across the street from the restaurant).IMG_1556 IMG_1557 IMG_1558 It was interesting to see how far this religious fervor went. People were buying thermos cans of liquid butter to fill up the lamps inside.IMG_1562 IMG_1563 IMG_1572IMG_1568IMG_1569IMG_1588

After the monastery with walked through the Barkhor Street and looked at some original Tibetan buildings. All of them had been converted to shops but at least we could see the typical style.IMG_1577

 

From there we made our way to a Tibetan tea house and the local sweet tea. Some kind of sugared black tea with yak milk. Super delicious, the tea house meanwhile was so dirty that in Europe I wouldn’t put one foot in it, while here we came to like it. Also you might note the ashtray on the table, smoking was allowed everywhere.IMG_1581 IMG_1589We got dropped off at the hotel and that was it for us. We never made it outside again that first day, being exhausted from the altitude and all the new impressions.
Yours, Pollybert

Crossing borders

One last breakfast at the Castle Resort, a quick goodbye to the dogs and our host Sofia and we were off to the airport. IMG_1440IMG_1420IMG_1418With only an hour delay we made the short flight to Kathmandu were nobody waited for us.IMG_1423 IMG_1424 IMG_1430We had ordered a driver from our hotel which was still operating, but the driver didn’t wait that long. Understandable in all this commotion at the airport. We got ourselves a taxi and drove to the hotel. What a difference this week made. Lots of people have fled the city after the quake and there was little traffic. On the other hand we also didn’t see a lot of destruction. Just a lot of tents all over the golf course and any other parks.IMG_1437 IMG_1442Upon our arrival at the Home Annex Hotel we were greeted with a cup of tea and the strongest wifi we had experienced so far on this trip.

I used my time to update the blog and then we made our way outside to find something to eat. IMG_1439 IMG_1461

We walked around for a bit and found some examples that also our district Thamel was hit by the earthquake but all the damage looked small compared to the pictures on TV. IMG_1445

We finally went to a restaurant just around the corner from our hotel. Fren’s Kitchen had a lovely garden and we and another tourist couple were the only guests. I tried a couple of new things, something fried with a spicy sauce and an Indian butter cheese dish. Maybe a bit on the heavy side but good nonetheless.IMG_1462 IMG_1456Sylvia went for her usual vegetable soup but had vegetable Dal Bhat instead of the momos.IMG_1454 IMG_1457

We went back to the hotel after the meal and had a good night’s sleep. After another interesting breakfast IMG_1486

 

the driver from the day before was bringing us to the international airport. The streets were again empty even more so than yesterday. IMG_1468 IMG_1469

We spent at least three hours at the airport waiting for our flight. Not that it was delayed but of course we wanted to be on time and the the drive was way shorter than expected. Nevertheless in the end we boarded our plane and after a disgusting meal we arrived in Lhasa.IMG_1824There we had to show our passports and visa twice andSylvia had to say goodbye to her Ghorka knives at the customs (no weapons allowed into China). Not the warmest welcome in this high situated city. At least our guide looked sympathetic to our plight.IMG_1502 IMG_1489 Already the air was a lot cooler and the sky immensely blue. The mountains around us looked brown and sandy with a white dusting of snow on top.  IMG_1490 IMG_1492 IMG_1495

The drive to the city took upon an hour on a very new and scenic road. Before checking into our hotel we had to make a stop at the travel agency to pay for our flight to Lhasa. There we were offered tea and advised to drink a lot due to the height and the very dry air. Also we shouldn’t shower this first evening. The reason behind it we didn’t really understand but found it funny nonetheless. IMG_1499

 

And then it was time to check into the Tibet Hotel which also offered hourly rates.IMG_1500 IMG_1503We managed to get the wifi password (sounds so simple now but took about 30 minutes including a visit from house keeping) and then set out to get cash and find a place to eat. This was all done in no time and we decided to splurge again and went for dinner at a hot pot place. With no language skills but with the help of a little dictionary we picked out the produce from the buffet that we wanted to throw in the soups. The choice was between vegetable soup with sausage and spicy oil. IMG_1505

Sylvia used only the oil and later paid a high price for it. Not only woke we both up during the night with a splitting headache but she was sick as well. Not such a promising start to our Tibet adventure. Yours, Pollybert