Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lost in China: Day 7

Today is the day. The day we step into wilderness, far away from modern civilization. The ultimate goal is to step foot on Everest Base Camp, but that will be 3 days later. According to itinerary, we will visit few places first, with altitude getting higher everyday.

Tibet's terrain is mountainous, and I believe the government spent quite a huge effort to link highways and train system to this area. Be it political driven or not, this infrastructure is good for the region.

Our destination for the night is Shigatse, Tibet second largest city. It is a 10-12 hours drive distance, just relax.

According to our tour guide, this is mustard farm. It can be seen throughout the whole journey. Ironically, we never see mustard sauce in Tibet, wonder what they do with it.

Mountain 1

Mountain 2

Mountain 3

Small temple with praying flags.

Weird ladders drawings on rocks.

Curvy road up the mountain, just like Initial D.

We took a break at Kampala Pass with altitude of 4797 meters, enjoying the scenery, minimum air, and photo with a Tibetan dog.

Tibetan Dog. It cost 10 RMB per person to take photos with him, but manage to get 15 RMB for two. Don't get cheated by his innocent look, he can eat you for dinner.

Tibetan has the best stone stacker in the world. They manage to stack up any kind of stones, anywhere, any shape.

The holy Yandrok Lake. From far it is unreal turquoise in color; while from near, it is crystal clear.

This weird phenomenon was formed on top of us, like a rainbow in a circle ring. That Chinese tourists who saw this shouted like saw an UFO.

Yamdrok Lake from near. 

Yamdrok Lake 2. Because it is too magnificent.

The pressure is getting weaker. This pack food is gonna burst any time.

Mountain Noijin Kangsang glacier.

Noijin Kangsang glacier 2, with the stupa and praying flags view.

Glacier 3 from another view.

It looks like a frozen river that flows toward us

Gyantse Dzong, a fortress built in 1930s, was referred as "Hero City", because of his responsible in defending British invasion around that time.

Pelkor Chode Monastery.

Finding a public toilet outside Lhasa is not a difficult task. Here is the photo of 1 standard toilet: you just pull down your pants, and start doing your stuff. No flushing required too! And, they have no door too. In fact, some tourist rather just do it in the bushes/wild.
If I drop my camera or phone, I would just buy a new one.

After around 12 hours journey, we arrived Shigatse. Altitude there is 3800 meter. Let's settle the night, get familiar with the pressure, before tomorrow higher altitude challenge.

This is the Tibetan curry rice that I missed in Lhasa, since appetite was recovered, I will have it all.

Tibetan dumpling.

Interior design of typical house or shop. Those photos are their past and current spiritual leaders.

What surprise me is, during the whole journey, even in rural area, my phone was mostly had full signal strength. Why can't we have this, even in city like KL?

Tomorrow will be heading to New Tingri, the last town before Everest.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lost in China Day 6

Situated at 3500m above sea level in July, Lhasa is hot during day time, and sun is strongest around 4pm. Not the Malaysia kind of hot, it feels hot on the skin, but accompanied by cold wind and strong UV.

Today should be a fine day. I seem to adapted to this altitude, no more headache and nausea.

The first destination for the day, is the great Potala Palace. This is the winter palace of Dalai Lama, another UNESCO Cultural Heritage. The structure is located on a hill, makes it look taller and magnificent. It has 1300 years of rise and fall, mainly by natural disaster and war.

The great Potala Palace. It consists of 2 parts, which are Red Palace and White Palace. Red Palace is used entirely for religious study, while White Palace is for living, resting, diplomatic use. 

Center View

Prayers are practicing with a tool which they swing clockwise, while walking clockwise around the palace.

Waiting for the gate to open. Tour guide waited here yesterday since 6am to buy ticket, as they have visitor quota each day. Much appreciated.

Walking up the palace

Most parts of the palace are no photograph, so nothing internal to show here. It has a very thick wall to insulate from cold weather or maybe external threat. We were walked through the White Palace first, which is living quarter of several previous Dalai Lamas, their resting room, study room, meeting room etc. 

The interesting one is the Red Palace. It housed the Relic of several previous Dalai Lamas, hundreds of thousands of Buddha statues, countless of Buddhism teaching scrolls, the Dalai Lama throne made from real gold and precious stones, and a lot exotic stuffs.

It was here that I learnt from our tour guide, there is no Dalai Lama in Tibet anymore. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th, and are currently in India as political refugee. Historically, when Dalai Lama passed away, they usually left a clue of the next Dalai Lama. Personnel will be sent out to find for the boy according to the hint. When they found the candidate, several previous Dalai Lama's items or relics will be shown to test the boy's reaction. This had been how it works for thousand years.

We also learnt that, Penchen Lama, the second most powerful leader of Tibet, were having 2 candidates for their 11th term. First one was a boy which hinted by previous Penchen Lama when he passed away, while second one, was politically elected by Beijing. The original boy were later in China's custody at age of 6, and no one knows his whereabouts now. 

Anyway, discussing about these stuff in Tibet is not recommended, as these are political sensitive issues. Polices are everywhere, uniform or not, but glad that our tour guide spoke good English.

The behind view of Potala Palace is the new Lhasa. China developing the area with modern high rises, industrial factories etc. If you still hesitate to visit Tibet, next time it will look like Chengdu.


Lunch at a nearby rooftop Nepalese Restaurant. The boss and  the food do look like Nepalese.

One of the member, Li Zhi, just entered the toilet for his High Altitude Sickness treatment.

Nepalese Curry Chicken. The Dal is awesome.


Noon, we went to Sera Monastery, one of the great 3 monasteries in Tibet. It was located at the mountain leg, and one of the most damaged monasteries during revolution, still recovering most structures.

Instead of following the path of most tours, our tour guide leaded us to a hidden store room, which keeping 2 Tangka arts. It was made by arranging color powder, just like what we seen during Deepavali in Malaysia, but with much greater details. If not mistaken, these arts are telling story about hell and relic.

The spotlight of Sera Monastery, is the weekday monk debating party. Monks gather at the same place, and start debating anything, from religion to science etc. A monk will raise a topic to challenge another monk, then sit down keep quiet and listen to the 'challenger'.

Challenger will response, with sometimes clap their hand with points. The whole picture is quite funny, I just wish I can understand Tibetan language.

See for yourself

We were explained by our guide about 天葬, literally Sky Funeral, one of the most used funeral type in Tibet. The dead will be carried to the mountain, removed the skin, and feed to the vultures. Such cultural difference.


Since the day is still early, our guide treat us to a nearby Sweet Tea shop. A lot of Tibetans as well as tourist enjoying their afternoon here, chit chat, playing card games, just relax.

Yak skull decoration. Why do people loves these kind of souvenir?

Last day in Lhasa, tomorrow will be a long ride to slightly higher altitude with more awesomeness!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lost in China Day 5

Woke up by sunlight at 7am. This is so not right. Tibet is located at west of China, and sharing the same time as Malaysia. Shouldn't we receive sunlight at much later time? Maybe is the altitude.

Oh yea, there is a little dizziness. High altitude sickness started to kick in.

The place that we stayed is call Shambala Palace, a hotel that preserved classic Tibetan architecture, with modern sewage.

Bed with marble robe decoration

Toilet door

Toilet view

Toilet view 2



Busy burning precious oxygen, do not disturb.

Above the hotel's cafe.

This hotel is located at the dead end of an narrow alley, so car don't usually drive in, guaranteed peace of mind. 

Breakfast is served from 8am to 10am, with mostly Tibetan style food, like butter tea, Tsampa, oat.
Oat + yogurt, not sure how much Tibetan is this.

Butter tea, this is 100% Tibetan. I started to miss this, where can I find in Malaysia?


Welcomed by our tour guide TenChuong, our first destination of the day was Norbulingka, the summer palace of Dalai Lama. This place was listed as UNESCO Cultural Heritage, this place had been badly damaged during Cultural Revolution, and had been undergoing restoration.

This is where Dalai Lama hangout during summer season. It consists of teaching room, bedroom, diplomatic room, a private toilet of dalai lama, and several rooms for religious purpose.

An old lady is practicing prostration

Tibetan cat. Animals in Tibet wasn't view as low class species, they are freely enter and exit temples no one really bat an eye.

At that moment, I wasn't really paying much attention to the scenery and stuff that explained by tour guide. The headache since morning is getting worst. We had been swallowing some High Altitude Sickness prevention pill since 2 days ago, but the effect don't seems effective. Trying to calm myself down, "this is not the worst yet". Maybe a puke and throw out everything in the stomach will feel better.

Quickly found a toilet at the corner of the site, in fact, is just a drain with flowing water. Coming from modern society, that is consider gross. Anyway, the smell and "product" left by previous toilet goer in the drain DOES help me to release everything, now I am feeling better. For now.

The worst is not over yet, now everything I put into my mouth will come out from my mouth later.


We were suppose to be welcomed by the tour guide and served with meal when we arrived at Tibet, due to the flight delay, that meal is our lunch now, after visited Norbulingka. Really, I am very appreciate seeing the great delicious lunch in front of me, but knowing if I eat anything now, I will puke again. 

Let's don't waste the food, let me go to the toilet and release my 2nd round of vomit first. Still don't have appetite to eat after that. Why only me?

Anyway, the curry soup is awesome. I will order one when I adapted to this altitude.


Our tour guide knows people. When Jokhang Temple closed at 6pm, we entered at 6pm, we were told that there will be a closed chanting ceremony in there after 6pm. Climb up the stairs to the top, very tiring, but the view on there is able to see Lhasa surrounded by mountains in panorama view, just breathtaking.

Gold symbolic on the top of temple.

#FunFact by Bobby: no matter which direction you look in Tibet, you see mountains.

The grand Jokhang Temple rooftop.

The grand Jokhang Temple rooftop 2

Mountains at different angle.

Prayers outside Jokhang temple practicing prostration. Throughout the day, we see people doing that, facing the temple, and repeat for thousands of times. Prayers also walk around the temple in clockwise, too.

We wasn't allowed to take photo in the chanting hall, so nothing to show you here. And we just knew that tour guide was a monk. He put down his monk identity and left the monastery to learn new knowledge, but years later when he is done, new China policy made him very difficult to become a monk again... 

#FunFact: Summer sun in Tibet set by 10pm.

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