Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

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Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

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Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Not something everyone can say they have tasted. :mrgreen:

Had this for lunch today. Cost $A3.

We flew into Tibet yesterday but never landed. Got near all the way there on a 3 hour flight from Chengdu China, which was aborted an hour or so before landing, due to weather.

As the plane neared Lhasa, pilot was hearing of super gusty dangerous winds at airport. Lhasa alone has a higher altitude, at 12,000’, or more than 2 miles above sea level, than near all clients have ever experienced, and weather there is pretty unpredictable and violent.

Anyway plane turns around, heads back to Chengdu, and we land 5 or 6 hours after we boarded it. Total chaos of course - no-one has a clue what occurs next, as nothing announced on plane.

On the ground basically no-one spoke a word of English, as Chengdu is not Beijing or Shanghai, and gets no tourists basically, and hours were wasted going from desk after desk of shrugged bored shoulders.

Finally got someone to agree to a fight next day, and scribbled a flight number and time on a piece of paper. No ticket, no voucher, no travel permit, nothing official - just hope and pray stuff!

Get shlepped to an airport Hotel named only in Chinese, and arise 3.30 to catch the super early flight to Tibet. This time all went well and arrived Lhasa today at 9am and went immediately to the massive 7th Century Potala Palace, (about 10 stories) the Winter home of all the Dalai Lamas, and simply enormous, perched on the highest point in town. No lifts, no escalators.

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There are literally 1000 steep steps to get in an out, going up another 500 feet something I’d be stuffed doing at sea level, much less 2++ miles above sea level nose bleed level, where oxygen levels are heavily reduced. All the guidebooks say arrive, and do not move for 2 days to acclimatise. :lol:

The first time I flew into El Alto Airport, in La Paz, Bolivia, (the world’s highest airport - altitude 4,061 metres=13,325’) I felt sure the air was quite “normal” and that all the tourist warnings were hyped up nonsense.

Hence in my great “wisdom” I ran around taking photos, walking up hills and stairs, and moving heavy luggage, and ignoring all advice to take things SUPER easy for a few days to acclimatise. (Australia’s highest point Mount Kosciuszko, is about HALF that altitude!)

Huge mistake of course - went down that night for 3 days, with a raging fever, high temperature “both ends burning” - with vomiting and diarrhoea etc. Missed all the sightseeing there, and also my outward flight, incurring high costs to use alternate means.

Worse still was un-insured for it - so all my own fault! Quite a few popular tourist destinations are high altitude, and most visitors are fine, IF you slowly get used to it for few days. I’ve visited Cuzco in Peru, and Lake Titicaca Bolivia both a few times, and the latter is somewhat higher than Lhasa Tibet even.

Anyway late evening now on Day #1 and I still appear to be without Altitude Fever, so fingers crossed. :lol:

Using a computer in Tibet is tricky. “Lonely Planet" guidebooks are totally banned. Even getting here is a nightmare with paperwork and forms and applications and grillings. Your ornate TTP (Tibet Travel Permit) gets checked EVERY hour - to get onto the plane and 3 times within each airport, to leave airport building, to book your hotel, to enter any Temple here, and all sorts of wacky things. China Police in large buses are EVERYWHERE downtown. Undercover police are here by the 1000s.

To make this post was a battle. Here it is totally illegal to use Facebook, YouTube, megaproxy, Google, Gmail, and view ton of leading newspapers like New York Times, etc. And now I have just found - IMGUR.com and Imageshack are also VERBOTEN, so can’t load pix there. All totally blocked by the Government. :roll: :twisted:

The “Joys” of being “liberated” I guess! More pix later here via photobucket that DOES miraculously work, that hopefully someone can save later on. :mrgreen:

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When you gotta go, you gotta ... in main street Lhasa.
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by Brummie »

Not sure about the yak, it looks more like liver. :shock:

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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by bazza4338 »

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cHB3Rbz1OI

Take out the papers and the trash
Or you don't get no spendin' cash
If you don't scrub that kitchen floor
You ain't gonna rock and roll no more
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

Just finish cleanin' up your room
Let's see that dust fly with that broom
Get all that garbage out of sight
Or you don't go out Friday night
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

You just put on your coat and hat
And walk yourself to the laundromat
And when you finish doin' that
Bring in the dog and put out the cat
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

Don't you give me no dirty looks
Your father's hip; he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoodlum friend outside
You ain't got time to take a ride

Yakety yak (don't talk back)
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
[Fade]
Yakety yak, yakety yak
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by DJM »

What did the Yak taste like ? Looks good.

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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by Global Administrator »

DJM wrote:What did the Yak taste like ? Looks good.

D.
Very low fat they said - we also had these little Yak Dumplings with red hot Chili sauce!
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The guide said we were quite mad climbing up a THOUSAND steps to the roof of this Palace an HOUR after getting off a plane from sea level! 8) 8)

Most tourists do not move for 48 hours, to slowly acclimatise to 12,000 feet.

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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by Greaden »

Yak is just red meat, but the real treat is yak butter tea (suja). Some visitors find in disgusting - to the point of quietly pouring it through the floorboards when the hosts were not looking. I actually enjoyed it - it is good if you think soup rather than tea.

My hosts (in Bhutan) were surprised enough that a foreigner liked it, along with the high-Scoville cooking, that they offered to set me up with a local wife - whose half-missing teeth showed the effects of betel nut abuse.

My attempt to see Tibet was aborted (aside from Lhasa airport) as permits were yanked due to flaming monks. So, I was stuck in Chengdu. I cannot say I actually saw much of Chengdu as one cannot see very much through the polluted haze.

I got a taste of Tibetan cooking in Kathmandu. The momos (dumplings) are memorable.
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by bazza4338 »

Prevention of altitude sickness

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend slowly. Once you are more than 3,000 m above sea level, only advance 300 m or less per day. Be sure to take an extra day of rest and acclimatisation for every subsequent 1,000 m.

Other suggestions for preventing altitude sickness include:

See your doctor for information and advice before your trip.

Some climbers believe that switching to a high-carbohydrate diet before they go trekking helps to reduce the risks.

Be prepared. Pack all necessary first aid items, including medications.

Considerable evidence exists for the effectiveness of acetazolamide as a preventative. It is particularly useful if you are flying into a location at altitude and will not have time to adjust.

Salmeterol inhalers and even Viagra-like drugs have been used to prevent fluid building up in the lungs.

Remember that medications such as nifedipine and dexamethasone are best used as a treatment for mild altitude sickness, not as a prevention measure.

These medications could mask the early warning signs.

Only climb with experienced guides.

Increase your fluid intake. You may need up to seven litres every day.

Avoid cigarettes and alcohol.

Sleeping tablets must not be used, as they can lead to an increase in hypoxia due to their central nervous system depressing action.

Be aware that you are at increased risk of altitude sickness if you have experienced it before.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/altitude-sickness
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by aethelwulf »

Global Administrator wrote:
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When you gotta go, you gotta ... in main street Lhasa.
That's typical in China. Lots of tourists from the mainland behave the same way in Hong Kong. One often sees parents danging their kids above a rubbish bin on the street so they can have a wee. Then there was the woman one day in a hallway of the underground transit, who casually walked over to a side wall, squatted down, and did a "number two". :shock: :shock:
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by Brummie »

I thought he was cute but after what you have offered I'm starting to rethink my thoughts. :shock:
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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

Post by Girish Vaidya »

Tibet must be a great place to visit!!

I recently visited the India side close to Tibet border, Himachal Pradesh, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile in Dharamashala-

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The mighty himalayas, in the background

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a wall painting on one of the many monastaries-

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and (being a vegetarian,) the veg momos I had :shock: :D :D

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It had carrots, cabbage and cauliflowers!!

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Re: Yak Meat for lunch in Tibet. YUM!

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bazza4338 wrote:Prevention of altitude sickness

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend slowly. Once you are more than 3,000 m above sea level, only advance 300 m or less per day. Be sure to take an extra day of rest and acclimatisation for every subsequent 1,000 m.
Barry all common sense, and self evident, and I agree with it. :mrgreen:

But we stepped off a plane from sea level to 12,000' and within an hour of touching down, were climbing literally 1000 stairs 500 feet up the side of a large hill to the very top of a temple!

I'd be knackered climbing 1000 stairs in Sydney at ground level. :mrgreen:

We'd planned to have a day to adjust to the super high altitude, but the flight aborted last moment due to bad weather, which put paid to that, and we had it all booked here.
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Spectacular Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet, Winter Palace of all the Dalai Lamas.
"You should not attempt to visit the Palace on your first day in Tibet. Unfortunately, it is common for visitors to descend or be carried down the palace half way through because they fainted on the steps. Every step up to the palace is a struggle, no matter how fit you are. Ascending 3 steps feels like 30 steps due to the altitude and might make you breathless. Try to stop whenever you are panting. Most visitors, even the fit young men, stop to rest every few steps. Once you reach the top, you shall gain great satisfaction and an amazing view of the surrounding area."

https://trip101.com/article/potala-palace-lhasa-one-of-the-w ... stinations

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Flying the few hours from Chengdu to Lhasa, all you see on both sides of the plane for near the entire trip are mountains ..... big ones! Not a human, or village or town in sight that I saw - for hours.

The ones in the background here (probably 50 or 100 miles away in reality!) are like the high rise clusters of any big city, towering above all around them. I assume they were the Himalayas?

When flying over these they appeared REALLY close up ..... this is a from a little point and shoot camera I guess if a plane's typical cruise height of 35,000' above sea level flies over these, you can see them VERY close up! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by MargoZ »

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Not a Buddhist stoush ... just 100 or more monks at Sera Monastery practising their theological debating skills, in a ritualised display of foot-stomping, loud hand clapping and aggressive body movements. 2 hours a dayof this - 6 days a week!
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by OldDuffer1 »

Sounds fascinating. I guess only Chinese stamps these days?

I remember being interested in Tibet as a youth as a book was published entitled "The Third Eye" which purported to be the memoir of a young Tibetan monk. It created quite a sensation in the UK but later proved to be a hoax!

From Wikipedia:

"The Third Eye is a book published by Secker & Warburg in November 1956. It was originally claimed that the book was written by a Tibetan monk named Lobsang Rampa. On investigation the author was found to be a British plumber named Cyril Henry Hoskin (1910-1981), who claimed that his body was occupied by the spirit of a Tibetan monk named Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. The book is considered a hoax"

Apparently it is, however, still popular!

Keep those amazing photos coming and safe journey back.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by MargoZ »

Funny you should mention that.....our driver's name was Lobsang which immediately made me thank of 'The Third Eye'. I'm happy to report that our Lobsang was the real deal 8)
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

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OldDuffer1 wrote:
Keep those amazing photos coming and safe journey back.
Great story on the Third Eye!

Today we ventured higher than ever before, and there is a photo of Margo at one height marker below of 4,998 metres or 16,398'. That is well over 3 miles above sea level, and indeed it is higher than the snow capped summit of the highest point in Western Europe - Mont Blanc Mountain, a trifling 4,808 metres. :)

We then went off trekking up a nearby hill, and looked down on this same plinth.

I never thought at my mid 60's age, and general decrepitude, I'd be capable of walking anywhere much at well over 3 miles above sea level, and so far we have had no side effects or altitude sickness, although drinking NO booze all week here in Nepal has been pretty tough, as it costs just $1 a can everywhere! :mrgreen:

Pretty bloody chilly up there, and snow capped mountains in all directions. Anyway, a few pix below for possible interest. 8)
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Margo at 16,398 feet (4998 Metres) and looking rather cold for some reason! Very windy up there.
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1000s of Buddhist prayer flags, at also over 3 miles high, and snow capped mountains at back. Tibetans in all walks of life are VERY religious. EVERY house has multi colour prayer flags.
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They call these massive, Mastiff looking dogs "Tibetan Lions". All extra well padded with heavy fur for the mere 4,280 metre height they were at here.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by aethelwulf »

MargoZ wrote:Funny you should mention that.....our driver's name was Lobsang which immediately made me thank of 'The Third Eye'. I'm happy to report that our Lobsang was the real deal 8)
An English plumber working as a taxi driver in Tibet would kind of stick out. :lol:
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by briggia »

Cool pix keep them coming ;)

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Post by MargoZ »

The beautiful and sacred Yamdrok Lake complete with obligatory yaks. These were show yaks...the bourgeoisie of the yak world. The proletarian worker yaks were up the hill foraging.

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The sign says something in Chinese and Burmese along the lines that "this lake is very deep - do not swim". Apparently English language speakers are expendable ....

People would be more at risk stepping back to take selfies than actually jumping in - it was freezing.

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After Yamdrok we headed off for some lunch at a local village unaccustomed to western tourists, and with absolutely disgusting "long drop" squat toilets.

These locals invited Glen to join their game of chance with the obvious intention of fleecing him but he didn't have a yak to bring to the betting table so had to give it a miss.

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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

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Mailed a few postcards from a Tibet PO, and the girl there thought I was crazy for asking for neat postmarks. Many stamps would not stick, so she whipped out a glue stick off her desk, as you can see at left!

The Post Office there has a pretty cool feature of a little table with about 20 different sized handstamps, and 10 red ink pads, that you can use on letters or postcards. The wording is in Tibetan language, and some are pretty ornate designs and apparently have all kinds of “auspicious” messages on them. All shown in the photo I took below. 8)
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by warm »

Fascinating to read and look at.
Keep them coming, please.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

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Had a transit stop at Chengdu, a city I had not heard of before, which literally has half the population of Australia, but gets few western tourists.

Checking into a top end hotel there for which I had a confirmed booking, took 30 minutes despite the “assistance” staff of SIX young girls at front desk, who did not have a ONE single word of English between them. Was like a Monty Python movie. :twisted: :twisted:

There is a quite fabulous Giant Panda facility in Chengdu, with over 50 of these amazing animals, looking very content and surprisingly active, in a 100 acre heavily wooded set-up. Soon to be 500 acres. This is their native origin area, so of course they are well suited to this region and climate.

Not a city many foreign tourists get to, but well worth a visit for anyone planning a China vacation. These six fat “teenagers” I took photos of all playing together only metres away, was something I’ll never forget seeing! There were Pandas everywhere there only yards away – up trees, and eating bamboo shoots on the ground. :mrgreen:

Given the Chinese predilection for eating ANYTHING that moves or breathes, I was surprised to hear the population in the wild was slowly increasing, and asked our guide why they too have not been hunted into extinction like many other things in the area.

“Kill Panda is Death Sentence China ..... no-one will try” was his candid answer! Seems to be working. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by OldDuffer1 »

Aren't they cute! (Pandas, that is).

Pity they don't have the same attitude about other endangered wildlife such as tigers, pangolins etc. etc.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by aethelwulf »

Saw a cartoon earlier today, 2 pandas sitting in a zoo. One says to the other, "I don't mind being in captivity, but it doesn't give me much interest in mating."
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by warm »

Pangolins…
that will get the readers going to Wiki.

Such an educational board.

Great pics of the Ailuropoda Melanoleuca.

It was exciting to see one when they were at Taronga and also in Tokyo.

To see such a large number would be magical. A lifetime memory.

I remember having to do a course in Industrial Psychology, just to get the necessary number of degree points. Except for moi the class was entirely business type folk. They wanted a project based on work-type data which was not available to me so I was told just to do a presentation on something of interest. I remembered reading at the time that back in the 20's the Chicago Zoo had some Pandas and they could not get them to mate. Soft music, sweet bamboo just did not do the trick. When one died they had a postmortem and found that she was really a he. Problem solved. So my paper was on the problems of determining the sex of Pandas. This was pre-PowerPoint but I had the OHPs of close-ups of the nether regions to project and i felt it was quite going to be an interesting and informative talk. Much more interesting than the other talks - alas my turn never came but i still had a good mark.

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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

warm wrote:Fascinating to read and look at.

Keep them coming, please.

Tony
The great thing about having a car and driver is you can go where you want pretty much. 8)

Tibet is a small country - only about 3 million people, and some 500,000 of them are in Lhasa, and many of the rest are spread about in tiny rural settlements.

We like to get out of large cities where possible, to see first hand some of the real countryside - as opposed to freeways, and acres of high rise apartments the world is getting covered in!

The driver ventured out one day to a remote rural road neither he or guide had never been to, and at the end of it was a tiny little Yak farming settlement of a few homes surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Altitude here was 4,323 metres on the part we walked to.

Most of the Yaks were grazing 100 of metres above us on the mountain sides. Ancient old rough stone buildings, and all flying the colourful Buddhist prayer flags as can be seen. :mrgreen:
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Lots of man-made worship caves formed in Antiquity were scattered around the mountains. Death defying mountain goat stuff needed to reach them! And we went into many here. All up around 4,500 metres.

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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by steevh »

Watch out for the dogs. I was in Tibetan areas many years ago and they had the most insane dogs. At one village they did an attack charge at about 800 yards, and the threat of a large rock made them back off by only a foot. All the foreigners I met on that trip had been attacked by dogs.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

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steevh wrote:Watch out for the dogs. I was in Tibetan areas many years ago and they had the most insane dogs.

At one village they did an attack charge at about 800 yards, and the threat of a large rock made them back off by only a foot.

All the foreigners I met on that trip had been attacked by dogs.
Yes something to watch out for in many countries. :!:

One daughter just got back from Sri Lanka, where she was bitten by a dog. 4 or 5 injections there, and 3 or 4 here. No sign of rabies luckily, but initially one never knows.

Margo saw a couple of dogs (not aggressive thank goodness!) with the mouth foaming saliva when we were walking around up near that 5000 metres marker, and we kept well away!

If huge Mastiff things like this Tibetan Lion bit you forget the rabies - he'd probably take off your entire hand! Those front paws were massive. 8) 8)
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

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Awww! I want one. :D
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by CHzug1291 »

What a great read, and the pictures are awesome, the photographer must be expensive... :D

Keep it coming and enjoy your adventure with Margo!

Cheers

Peter
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by henrik_rrb »

Brummie wrote:
Global Administrator wrote:
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Awww! I want one. :D
I'll take two... ;)

Amazing photos and stories! Thanks a lot, Glen and Margo! You seem to have an incredible trip! I can't decide what I wanna see the most, the dogs or the pandas...?

Enjoy the rest of the trip and stay safe!
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

henrik_rrb wrote:
Enjoy the rest of the trip and stay safe!
We all got out with no altitude sickness, or did anything there to upset the secret police and spies there who are EVERYWHERE in Tibet! You need to be very careful about what you say or what you photograph. :idea:

Someone asked me what kind of clothing one sees on the streets, and whether any traditional garb is still worn etc.

A few photos below along those lines ... the Tibetans are VERY religious. People young and old carry Tibetan prayer beads, use the prayer wheels, and prostate themselves in prayer all over the place etc.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Postage Dues »

How do you 'prostate yourself'? :lol:

Looks like a fantastic trip.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by fletches1 »

Postage Dues wrote:How do you 'prostate yourself'? :lol:

Looks like a fantastic trip.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Raz »

Great photos and stories Glen and Margo. :D

Have a safe and happy trip.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by CHzug1291 »

Hi Raz.....long time no hear!

How are you mate? Are you going to Newcastle this weekend?

If so let me know ..... as usual I can not attend.... but would like the PNC's they sell every day (LE)

Let me know how you are...in any case.

Cheers

Peter
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Princestamps »

Amazing trip and place. The Tibetan people lookso friendly and yet it is obvious the Chinese barely tolerated you going there. I secretly like many others hope they are "Liberated" from Chinese control.

Amazed how you handled the altitude well, sometimes it works I guess, my partner and I were fine going up that 10,000ft high mountain and Switzerland in one day, but then again we were only up there for a few hours.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

Princestamps wrote:
Amazed how you handled the altitude well, sometimes it works I guess, my partner and I were fine going up that 10,000ft high mountain and Switzerland in one day, but then again we were only up there for a few hours.

10,000 feet is pretty high - 16,400 feet is something else entirely - see Margo below! The secret with super high altitude places for extended periods, is of course to acclimatise yourself for a few days doing nothing strenuous. The first time I flew into La Paz Bolivia - very high elevation but not as high as Tibet, I started to run around taking photos and moving bags etc and felt FINE. For about 3 hours, then came down with raging altitude sickness and fever - "both ends burning" etc. NOT pleasant at all. :roll: :roll: :roll:

Our cunning Plan A gave ourself a day or so there of total rest on arrival, but as our Air China plane from Chengdu aborted the Lhasa landing last moment, and flew back to Chengdu in Western China for 24 hours, that wise plan went out the window.

We got some DIAMOX (Acetazolamide) before we left, for super high altitude travel, and we both had no side affects at all on us, other than the tingling in finger tips etc they warn you of etc.

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Margo at 5000 metres above sea level in Tibet.
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by DJM »

Did you find 'Enlightenment' ??

:lol:
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by Global Administrator »

DJM wrote:Did you find 'Enlightenment' ??

:lol:
No, we both weighed a Kilo more when we returned, than when we left. :mrgreen:

Glen
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Re: Tangled and Tall but True, Travel Tales - from TIBET!

Post by donsanto46 »

I envy you your trip, but I'm glad YOU got to go. Thank You for sharing your trip with us.

Just so you know, you can get Yak burgers in Chehalis Washington USA - tastes like hamburger, and I have seen Yak $teak$ in specialty stores.

As far as your long drop squat toilets are concerned (I've used them a lot) - Be Happy, I saw an old guy in Taiwan washing his hands and face in a flush toilet - just be glad they didn't have one of those or who knows, it might have been the guy that cooked your Yak meat.
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