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

Annapurna Trekking Experience

Another early wake-up, today for our trekking experience. We had our breakfast and one more look around    IMG_1347

and then left on time at 8am to drive to our starting point.

The starting point looked easy enough, just a couple of steps leading up into the mountains. This couldn’t be so difficult.IMG_1349IMG_1348IMG_1351IMG_1352IMG_1353If you look at Sylvia at our first stop you will notice that it might have been more exhausting than expected. All in all we managed around 4000 steps.

But there were always some distractions along the way, big and small animals and little shops to buy more water. And every animal we saw was a mountain animal, so not just a goat but a mountain goat etc.IMG_1355IMG_1360 IMG_1363 Eventually we made to the halfway point or the tourist check point. Kul had to show our trekking permit and we took more pictures. IMG_1367 IMG_1370

After that more steps waited for us which we also took in stride and in the end made it to the top. Our top, which was the Australian Camp, where we were not rewarded with a great view. To our bad luck clouds were coming in and the mountains were somewhere behind them. At least we made up to the camp without rain, just 30 minutes later we watched hikers coming up in pouring rain. IMG_1371 IMG_1373 IMG_1375 IMG_1376

We moved into the restaurant and enjoyed a hearty Nepali meal, well deserved after the long trek up there. IMG_1377 IMG_1378 IMG_1379I spent the afternoon in our hut taking a nap while Sylvia played with the dog (as I had done before too). All the while it was sunny but rather cool. For dinner we refueled again with more food and more importantly carbohydrates. We needed a lot of energy for the trek down the next day. IMG_1387 IMG_1380 IMG_1381

Guess who had the pizza? We settled in our beds for the night with the sleeping bag/inner bag respectively. Since the light was not great and wifi was not working in the hut, we called it a night around 8:30 pm. IMG_1385

The next morning we woke super early to rain and fog. IMG_1386We wanted to start at 8am but had to wait for 90 minutes until the rain abated. With a light drizzle still under way we started our descent. Kul decided that we would take a shorter tour since the steps were too slick to go down all the way. So the trek down took us only an hour and we met our driver halfway. Quite unfair that they only told us after the ascent about the short-cut.IMG_1393 IMG_1394 IMG_1396 IMG_1397 IMG_1398On the way back to castle resort we made a short stop so that I could buy myself a new backpack. The one I had I was really good for traveling but definitely the wrong choice when you go hiking. Since I am planning on doing a bit more in this direction an investment was in order.

And then finally back to the hotel where we first took a shower. Hot water and fresh clothes, heaven couldn’t feel better. We also hand washed some clothes since we didn’t know what to expect in the next couple of days.
And then since we were already used to descending steps we also walked to the city. After a 15 minutes descent we arrived in Pokhara and looked for an ATM first of all. We still had to pay at the hotel, plus needed money for taxis, food and our hotel in Kathmandu if we even got there.

Everything was still up in the air, we had no passports since they were with the agency to arrange for the Tibet/China visa. When we eventually got the ok that the visa and the flight were alright we were ecstatic.
Dinner in the city was the plan, not hotel food. We settled on Mint’s Hut which had a spectacular lake view and looked reasonable clean. The food was delicious (at least for me). Sylvia had vegetable soup and fried momos which didn’t convince her, while I had Sadeko, a very spicy salad made from peanuts or in my case dried corn and thukpa, a curried vegetable soup with omelette on top.IMG_1406 IMG_1408 IMG_1409 IMG_1412 IMG_1413 IMG_1414 IMG_1417The salad was really so spicy that I had tears in my eyes and the waiter asked after if it was my first time. I must have had really puffy eyes.

For our return we spoiled ourselves and took a taxi. We were both not up to the challenge of the steps in the dark. After a discussion with the driver about his fee that ended with the driver following us into the hotel, getting a cup of tea and an open ear from a fellow Nepali, we went to bed. Yours, Pollybert