More of Lhasa

The next day started a bit slower and we only met at 9:30. I enjoyed my Chinese breakfast with stuffed baozi and some spicy vegetables.IMG_1593Today we had more monasteries on our program and thus fortified we were on the way. The first one was the  Drepung Monastery.

After a short drive we saw first of all some dogs.IMG_1596 IMG_1602 IMG_1603 IMG_1700 IMG_1609 IMG_1612
Here the Buddhists paint the stones surrounding the monastery every September when there is a big religious festival.IMG_1614
There we also found the most astonishing toilets (and relatively clean compared to some others that we saw on this trip). IMG_1631

The monastery of course was beautiful too, more from the outside than the inside. Inside in the little side temples and nooks it felt more like a creepy place than a religious temple. The protectors next to the Buddha statues looked like demons (which they actually were before the got vanquished).IMG_1615 IMG_1617 IMG_1619 IMG_1623 IMG_1626 IMG_1627
As usual there were no pictures allowed inside but I sneaked one in of the stairs. They were always super steep and dangerous.
In front of the prayer halls there were always huge pillars with prayer flags. Visiting all these places I felt really calm and at peace while Sylvia disliked the disturbing images inside.IMG_1635 IMG_1637 IMG_1638 IMG_1639 IMG_1641IMG_1653IMG_1656

For lunch we went to a little tea house and had some simple Tibetan fare. Rice with vegetables and some yak meat for me and the same for Sylvia without the yak.

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After lunch the next monastery, now the Sera Monastery. After the third one it felt like more of the same. Still, we had to show a certain interest because our guide was so clearly into it. Sylvia bought herself a little prayer, you never know it might help.IMG_1664 IMG_1667 IMG_1668 IMG_1670

 

From there we were driven downtown again to go shopping but eventually just stopped by at our guide’s tea house, enjoyed some teaIMG_1673
and then ended up in a shopping mall in search of a washroom. My little dictionary from Vienna for Chinese came in very handy again.

At the mall we bought some ‘juice’ by tapping our finger at the right drink. Clearly there are not a lot of English speaking people in this country.IMG_1675

I also bought myself a pair of shoes and a long-sleeved shirt. The mall was definitely a success. To top it all we managed to get on the right bus and were back in our area no time.IMG_1683IMG_1684 IMG_1685
But on the short walk back to the hotel we were drawn into a Chinese restaurant with the words ‘Come in, come in’. But that was the extent of the English words of the owner. From then on it was looking at the pics in the menus and using the dictionary again.

We managed to order though we apparently made a mess of things because what we got was enough dinner for 10 people. Please note that the dishes were individually plastic wrapped for each customer.IMG_1689IMG_1695
Also they didn’t seem to understand that when Sylvia means no meat then there should be no meat. Meaning even though there was no meat in the soup, it counts as meat when it is a chicken soup base and a little worm on top of some green leave. So that was it for Sylvia with the Chinese food, we didn’t go again together.
Yours, Pollybert

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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

On Market

After a lazy stroll around the Freihausviertel and the Naschmarkt, we settled on ON Market for dinner. Evi and I were joined by Cat which made dinner all the merrier. Love it when there are more plates to try from.

Anyway here is the restaurant, beautiful as ever. The huge ceiling lamp has such a big impact style-wise. This and the clothes panels give the place a very distinct feeling. 012013

For drinks I decided on something new and tried the cherry soda. Definitely something you should avoid, tasted totally chemical. For the same color go for the raspberry soda, 014has probably the same chemicals inside but tasted way better.

The menu overwhelmed us a bit with lots of delicious sounding descriptions. Besides the regular menu there are also weekly changing dishes. We finally ended up ordering squid, spicy beef and Asian fish & chips.015
I know the squid looks weird but was excellent. Very juicy and cooked to perfection, easy to cut and not rubbery at all (rarely achieved in Vienna).

016Spicy means hot here, even though it looked harmless it was far from it. So if you can’t take the heat, order it toned down.

017Must have been really good because when I wanted to try it, the fish was already gone.

It was as usual a pleasure to eat here and I loved it that the service has improved.
Yours, Pollybert