It’s been quite a while since the last entry. We’ve been unbelievably caught up with work (owning a business means having to do everything yourself!) and at the same time, the husband has been having eye problems… Having said all that, I hope the little problems are behind us so that we can put in more time to blog 🙂 So the time has come to upload a new story and this time, it’s Tibet, the Roof Top of the World!
Tibet’s scenery is breathtaking – I never imagined taking photos of craggy faced mountains (a bit like a Star Wars landscape, really) and seeing beautiful wild donkeys roam the Tibetan plateaus. But before I could appreciate all that, I had to contend with altitude sickness! Yes, it hits you when you least expect it. Despite the altitude sickness pills, one still gets some form of it (and it continues for at least three days’ into the trip). Lucky for me that I went with some good friends and we helped one another get through it – nothing like being sick together!
Well, that didn’t put a dampener on the trip and we pressed on, feeling much better on the fourth day. And lucky for us also that we didn’t attempt to do the tour of Potala Palace and Monastery on the first day of our arrival – the climbed would’ve really knocked us out! We did that attraction on the second last day of our stay in Lhasa. However, being the excited tourists that we were, we couldn’t help but do a little evening stroll outside to take a look – magnificently lit for all!
So what’s the best way to get around Tibet? We zipped round Tibet on a couple of 4x4s and I was really impressed by how tough the Toyota Landcruiser was. We don’t get to see it in ‘real action’ in Singapore as the roads and terrain are gentle compared to the terrain in Tibet. The Landcruisers took some hard bashing and still came out tops after the trip . Reminds me of the Timex slogan – “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking”!
And what did we see in the Roof top of the World? Lots! As I mentioned earlier in the post, we were astonished to find undulating landscapes and interesting wildlife. Wild donkeys, horses and birds can be found in abundance – it’s breathtaking to see these beautiful creatures gallop gracefully across the plateaus and the birds gliding across the skies. Herdsmen also dot the landscape tending to yak and sheep. It seems an idealistic life but the reality is that farming is done only like 6 – 7 months of the year as it becomes too cold after that.
Lakes mirrored the surrounding colours while mountains punched the air.
A visit to Tibet isn’t complete without visiting Mt Everest Base Camp but unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to see Mt Everest as it was a cloudy day. Still, the monastery offered a great view of the surrounding area and mountain peaks.
And speaking of monasteries, there are a multitude of them all over Tibet. You cannot escape not running into a monastery. Some have the funds to up keep the grounds but sadly, many do not and you can see them gently falling into disrepair. The monks decide to close up certain rooms or block off entire segments so that they do not have to look after them. A pity because architecturally, they’re a wonder to behold. Many of the monasteries also perform important functions like burial rights. We were told by our guide that sky burials still exist today and only the very wealthy can afford them. And I can imagine why – you have to get your dead loved one up to the monastery which is atop of hill. Once there, the monks then prepare the body for burial rites which means they have a further few metres to climb. Then, they send a signal to the birds that there’s a sky burial and next thing you know, they’re swooping down onto the remains! Here’s a picture of a monastery that still performs sky burials.
Truth be told, we were all too happy to come back into Lhasa. The landscapes in Tibet are beautiful but we’ve been spoilt by modern day conveniences so after being out in the rural surroundings, it was really nice to come back to a lovely bed, modern sanitation and a buzzy market atmosphere!
The trip was an eye opener for me – despite the vastness of the land coupled with what I felt was a ‘hard’ terrain, the people of Tibet seemed happy and contented with life. The children especially didn’t need a playstation or phone to keep themselves occupied. They just picked up whatever was around them and made it into a toy to amuse themselves. Ah…the simple life!
Getting to Lhasa from Singapore
1. Flew to Hong Kong (had a pitstop there and back) and took in the sights and food. Also stocked up on last minute items to bring along the trip.
2. From Hong Kong, flew out to Chengdu and then out to Lhasa. Note that there are direct flights from Singapore to Chengdu on Silkair; it’s just that we wanted to get our fill of dim sum and roast meats before heading out to Tibet!