Day 10: Wandering the Streets of Lhasa

Potala Palace

Since we arrived in Lhasa several days before our tour is scheduled to start, and we can’t begin the tour now because we have to wait for one more person, we are going to spend several days just wandering around.  And since we have to be on a tour to even be here, and the tour company wants to get money for these days, we’re going to have our tour guide, Tsering, with us.  I guess.  I don’t really know what we’re gonna be doing.

Adjusting to the altitude tires your body out pretty effectively, so we went to sleep early yesterday.  Maybe we were still on our early-morning BAR prep schedule, because our 6:30am Diamox (altitude sickness meds) alarm got us up and out of bed and onto the streets of Lhasa.  The rising sun scattered the long shadows of rickshaws across the sidewalk while we dodged old, agile Tibetans spinning their prayer mandalas.  Long lines of prayer flags flapped in the cold wind between the buildings.

Early commute

Rickshaws in Lhasa

Climbing up two flights of stairs to a western breakfast place got us all quite winded.  Like, really out-of-breath winded.  Had a “western” breakfast, which basically means fried eggs with chopsticks and *gasp!* …coffee.  These are things you don’t usually see in random restaurants in China.  We sat in the sun and watched more prayer flags flutter.  I think I like Tibet.

Decaying Wall at Breakfast

We walked with Tsering to some little shops because, well, we had nothing else to do.  She wanted to buy a hat, and at one place we came across another exciting edition of Butchered English On T-Shirts (And Some Other Places Too)!!! We saw a hat that said “PESPECT.”  Gah!  So close!!

Find Out What it Means to Me

We passed butcher shops with big slabs of yak and lamb hanging out in the sun.

We jumped into bicycle-powered rickshaws (two people in each one) and toured the back alleys of Lhasa, winding through tight, shadowed corridors, weaving in and out of people carrying goods and selling food.  Stores selling rugs, lamps, jewelry.  Lots of people trying to sell big rolls of prayer flags to the tourists – this is something I thought I would want to buy to represent the trip, but after being here and seeing the people and the culture, the flags don’t come close to encompassing this place.  They just seem corporate and shallow.

We ate lunch in the little local restaurant next to the place that sells shower curtains.  More yak momos, and they weren’t that great this time.  The gamey flavor really permeated.  Dinner was an interesting “western” experience – we had what Tibetans think spaghetti, pizza, and lasagna is.  Apparently they think Italians are fine with waiting for an hour before they get their food.


3 Responses to “Day 10: Wandering the Streets of Lhasa”

  1. 1 Sam
    March 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

    you need to watch battlestar galactica so i can make “JUMP” jokes with you.

  2. 2 Sam
    March 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

    oh, and the yak cheese momos made me want to puke.

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