Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tibet: Lhasa Experiences

Finally, we wrap up the trip with bits and pieces of our wonderful stay in Lhasa. First, the hotel - we had deluxe rooms at the Yak Hotel. Wonderfully situated, right outside of the Barkhor area, it was convenient to shopping, sightseeing and food. Tibetan Expeditions has their office in the complex, adjacent to the Dunya Restaurant. While food was not included in our itinerary, we were pleased to receive breakfasts at the Dunya, one dinner show (see below) and one dinner at the restaurant. The food was so good, the coffee excellent, the patio/bar area perfect for that happy hour drink, that we ate nowhere else (apart from the dinner show).

Hours could be spent shopping in the Barkhor area. Seeing everything from cut-rate Chinese plastic to overpriced Tibetan antiques. We opted for shopping at the Dropenling Handicraft Development Center, where all profits are returned to the artisan communities. A few Tibetan rugs and associated masks later, we headed off to the Thangka stores. Our favorite was Mani Thangka Arts, across from the Pentoc Hotel.

As you wander the shopping streets, take note of the piles of yak cheese, and bedecked, swirling prayer wheels. When you are ready for a break, the coffee shop inside the Pentoc Hotel bills itself as having the best coffee in town. They could be right about that - just avoid the crowds of chain-smoking tourists.

Off we head to the dinner show at the Shangri-la restaurant. After the range of food we'd had on his trip, the food and yak butter tea were no longer too exciting. But it is always fun to see a bit of the music and dance culture of a region. Blessings were brought onto Sherry and Judy by the (scruffy) dancing yak...neither seems thrilled.

After enjoying the chili powders Cynthia bought in Dali on the Yunnan trip, I was determined to acquire chili from Tibet. Here we are in the market, negotiating on enough chili to last two families a year or more!
Finally, a few spots of local color. The touch of China displayed by the police officer clipping toenails while on duty in Barkhor Square. The juxtaposition of old and new with monks in front of the Budweiser tent which houses the police guards at Barkhor Square.

Sunday to Sunday, we had a great trip to Tibet. Well organized and orchestrated by our hosts at Tibetan Expeditions and Shigatse Travel. Made colorful and vibrant by our warm-hearted guide, Gaden, and our cheerful driver. And filled with the sounds, smells and sights of Tibet.

Link back to the beginning of the October 2007 Tibet trip at: Planning for Tibet, Arriving in Tibet and Off to Tsetang, Tibet Day 2: Tsetang Tibet Day 2: Journey to Samye, Tibet Day 3: Road to Gyantse - Yamdrok-Tso Lake and Tibet Day 3: Continuing on the Road to Gyantse, Day 4: Gyantse - Pelkor Choede and Kumbum Chorten, Tibet Day 4: Shigatse and Tashilhunpo, Tibet Day 5: Enroute to Final Stop - Lhasa and Tibet: Lhasa - Jokhang, Barkhor, Potala and Sera

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