China Trip – Getting to Tibet

Well  I’m updating my blog via the blogger email feature, so hopefully these get posted.
We did not make it to Tibet the day we were scheduled.  The tour agency we went with messed up my Tibet permit; they had Bryan listed twice.  They had caught the mistake, but their agency in Lhasa only faxed a copy and the folks at the airport wanted the originals.  So, we missed our flight and the original was on a flight from Tibet that would arrive after the last one for the day.  We were pissed to say the least…I’ve had this trip planned and paid for since February.  The manager came to airport to try to help with no luck. They made it seem like not a big deal since you are only to rest that day, and we bought into it.  They paid for another nights hotel, plus some extra cash, and then arranged a private guide for our first day in Lhasa instead of the group tour. 

So, after 5 hours going to and coming from the airport we were back at Mix Hostel.  The hostel was our request since the expensive hotel they wanted us in was in a rough area of town with nothing to do.  We had the evening in Chengdu so we wanted to see the Wenshu Monastery and the outdoor teahouse, which is walking distance from the hostel.  It was enjoyable!  The teahouse was neat.  Zoe enjoyed running around with another kiddo while Bryan and I just relaxed and drank our tea.  We had a nice dinner at a fancy vegetarian restaurant and then went to Trust Mart to buy more diapers.   Apparently Zoe is a size XL in Chinese diaps – the ones we bought the day prior were too small. 

She went to bed early, so Bryan and I got some adult time chatting out with the other hostellers drinking some beer.  It was a great night, so we hung out on the deck just outside our room.
So, at 4:50AM we woke the next morning, hopped in the provided van service, found the tour company manger with our permits, and got on our flight with no hassle.  Our private guide, Tsetan, greeted us at the Lhasa airport with traditional scarves!  Then we were whisked off to our hotel: the Kalaish in the old part of Lhasa.  We are a few blocks from the Potala Palace and around the corner from Barkhor street. It’s great. 

After checking in and dropping our bags we got in the van to head to Potala for our guided tour.  The tour was great! It was so amazing to be in the same rooms as the current Dalai Lama and see the incredible paintings, tapestries, and carvings galore.  We enjoyed ourselves, but were simply dragging tired.  The reason we were meant to arrive the previous day was to simply rest an acclimate to altitude.  No luck for us…the palace has hundreds of stairs and was kind of exhausting.  Completely worth it, though.

After that we got some lunch at a wonderful restaurant our guide likes; Indian food!  yum!!!  Then we walked along Barkhor street, toured inside Jokang Temple, and shopped a bit.  It was so great to be on a guided tour, since we learned so much more about the religion and culture of Tibet than the group.  The touring around took all day, so finally at 6 we cut our guide loose.  We were beyond tired, though, and dragged ourselves back to the hotel to go to bed early.  I got some fried rice delivered up to our room for dinner and we crashed.   The Tibetans love Zoe and are a bit more respectful than the Chinese.  They don’t really want pictures, but love to touch her and play and give her little gifts.  She was a trooper today, but didn’t want all the extra attention since she was so tired.  Exhausting day…but we are here and it is simply amazing!!!!

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