This place is beautiful and dangerous. The landscape is not like any other I’ve ever seen – it’s half mountain, half desert. You sweat in the day and shiver at night, and the extremes are amplified by the inevitable sunburn. Yesterday we spent a few hours of the late afternoon in a Tibetan market and browsing around a monestary and returned to the hotel to assemble and eat dinner before realizing how unforgiving the sun really is here. The dangerous rays which make the skin of locals look like leather is veiled by a constant cool breeze, but now that we’ve learned this, we’re armed with 35spf sunscreen.
Last night we had the first proper Tibetan meal of the trip. With our homebase well within the border of Chinese territory of Lhasa, we have to make a trip to even find a place that will serve us Tibetan cuisine. Last night we found a place just outside of the market we spent the afternoon browsing we found a restaurant that not only serves Tibetan and Nepalese food, but they have a menu with english text. The food was fantastic and included a variety of treats including Masala and Butter tea, momo, and lots of yak meat. It’s maybe as delicious as it is exotic – the food here appears to be excellent, even if easily overshadowed by mediocre Chinese food. Because we’re at the cusp of the Tibetan new year, many Tibetan restaurants are closed for the holidays, so it takes some work to find a good restaurant with a door that isn’t chained closed.
After the meal we assembled at the hotel to prepare for the evening. I didn’t have to work, so I would just tag along to observe. The club wasn’t entirely identical to what I’m used to, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a great departure from clubs in mainland China, with regard to either the music or the atmosphere. There was no dancefloor at all, but there was a large stage with an assortment of band equipment. There were a few house performers, and we came with juggling bartenders, a fire dancer/eater, and two dancing white girls. The outfit that Kim and Maria had to wear was hilarious – it was like a big white fuzzy bikini with white fuzzy boots. Absolutely hilarious; I’ll post photos when I return to Chengdu. Dave’s performance was tremendous – first he ate fire and then danced with flaming poi. Without a doubt the highlight of the show, in my opinion. I sat and watched the show for two hours while declining to drink Chivas and opting for Lhasa beer. On the green can it clearly said “Beer from the roof of the world”. How cool is that?
I’ll leave this place shortly and return with Dave to the market that we went to yesterday, this time to conclude our search for a singular item – a Chupa. It’s a traditional Tibetan article of clothing which looks somewhat like a large robe. The outside is black and decorated with colorful Tibetan fabric ornaments and the inside is sheep hide. Tenzin has one and had to travel to the Tibetan part of western Sichuan to find it. Neither Dave or I have ever seen anything like it and we’re absolutely committed to finding them, even if we have to have them custom made by a Tibetan tailor. Wish us luck.