WHQ World Tour-Tibet:On top of the world.

If Earth had a belly button, it would be the Tibetan Plateau in Central Asia.Framed by the Kunlun Mountains to the north and the Himalayan Mountains to the south,the Earth here seems to poke out.-Dan Risch excerpt from “Life at the Top”,Faces May 2006.

At the immigration in Chengdu Airport. The security stopped me and my handcarry. They screened me and was very curious about my intention of visiting Tibet.

Lucky me, I have a wonderful team in Singapore who settled everything for me, from Visa (yes u need a Visa to Tibet but not to China), itineraries, places of visits and not forgetting the most importantly- the experienced tour guides and drivers…whom, I get to see their world thru their local charming eyes.

Bouquets of gratitude to Country Holidays especially to Steve who personally oversee everything. Thank u so much!It was not an easy task to find a travel agency who encourage my vision of visiting Tibet on solo mode. Most of them are in group tours and on specified dates.

In Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, there is no shortage of Halal food. Where my hotel is located in, it’s just 5mins away from a mosque. And 15mins away from the largest mosque here. With that being said, u can see muslims everywhere.

I felt at home here (it seems I am home everywhere). I dont see much tourists cos its not yet the tourist season. And its freezing cold! The high altitude may seem too much at first cos ur heart is working harder than usual. But Steve has told me to take it easy here. U cannot be in Singaporean pace in Lhasa. U just gotta chill n relax. Like slowmotioning all ur moves.
People who have heart problem might not adjust well here.That was what they told me at the reception. Alhamdulillah Im in the pink of health. Only thing bugging at first is the heavyness I felt kinda like heartburn thingy. But it’s only for a day. After that, ur body got accustomed to it and all is well.
I love it here. It’s like my own little country. The locals speak Tibetan language and Mandarin. And it’s said that there are 50-50 Chinese and Tibetans here. And there are about 2000++ muslims here. They specialised in herbal medicinal business. In the morning, you can see them flock in one area opposite the Great Mosque awaiting their products.They dressed well and topped with their white hats (hajj songkok).

Sidetracked-I once saw Goji, fresh Goji berries on a long cart. And I thought I can buy it on the way back hotel. Big mistake! I never see it again,ever…There goes my chance to taste the himalayan berries…in its freshness.And their Mandarin oranges are so sweet,its as if u plucked them off the trees urself!

There are police and military everywhere. But it’s ok. They are just being the eyes and ears. They do not disturb you. If in Lhasa itself, I can roam safely n freely about.But if in the countryside, I have to carry my visa and itinerary at all times. So far no one stopped us or enquire about our activities. So all is well.
It was freezingly cold. Colder than NYC. I think it should be minus 5 or something. I guess the winds are really strong here. Cos I wore 2 winter clothings n thermal wear, and Im still cold,blue.
Sunglasses are a must.
The 2 things that locals have in common are -eye problems and the heart. Cos the sun is much closer when u are high up. I did not notice it but when I got back, I looked like a “burnt toast”.
The people are very friendly lot. They thought I was from Malaysia. Was very surprised when I said Singapore. Singapore dollars was 5X their currency. And the food is really good and cheap.
But then again, my tongue is very flexible overseas.

One thing, I am aware of, there are lots of smoke. The air is fresh but there were smokey air in between. Like burning incense kinda smell. I got used to it in no time. Or u can buy a “nose screen” mask. I did buy it cos it looked cool.Furthermore, when I wore it, I looked like the locals. But my big black eyes are a giveaway!

Tip: Drink lots of water especially warm water. My hotel is a 3 star hotel. It has a freeflow of hot water dispenser. I bought my own ginger powder mixed. Cos sometimes, I can get nausea easily if hungry.(I got hungry so often!!) Furthermore, its good to let the air out sometimes…I wonder my neighbours heard those “firecrackers” in my room, hmm?

I chose this one cos its more like a local stay rather than the other posh 5 star one. And its location is fantabuluous! I walked everywhere (it’s like a maze, u have to remember ur route) The people are awesome and some speak good english!

When they have the circumbulation (pilgrim trail) everyday, I always walk with them to the market, to the stalls or go back to my hotel. It’s opposite of muslim’s way in Mecca (which is anti-clockwise). I love to watch and learn their way of life thru their culture and praying etc…

Bakhor area is one favourite place of mine. It’s not far, just 15minutes away.

I love the bustling market area. Its full of life and colours. There are posters of Budha everywhere. I do read some guides in the library back home before I start on this journey. And it warns travellers not to buy animal stuff like the skin, horns etc. But the boots, are very temptinglicious.

If u want to learn about the locals, switch on the tv. Watch their local movies. And u can see lots of war movies and military thingy. And you will not be surprised when u see on the streets, a little toddler’s best friend is a toy rifle.

There are so many words I wanna say….but …hmm…

ps:My GPS did not work here,there and anywhere up here…in Tibet.

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