The flight over the Himalayas was incredible. I took photos and video and I’ll post them here when I get back home and can edit my content.
I arrived yesterday at 9:30am in Lhasa and immediately noticed the thinner air. With less oxygen in the air you need to take deeper breaths, so you quickly become short of breath, even carrying your luggage from the airport to the taxi. Over the next 24 hours this would have a greater effect on me than it did in the airport, although it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Because I’d only had two hours of sleep (although on the flight I was stretched out across three seats when I wasn’t looking out the window), I fell asleep in the hotel for 5 hours immediately after eating an early lunch. Shortly after waking I had a headache and was feeling nauceous while still being exhausted. My mother called me to say hello and see how I was doing and¬†I spoke about the altitude sickness to her and she assured me that it’s normal. She reminded me to check out the hot springs outside of Lhasa which supposedly offer an incredible view of the Himalayas.
Last night before I really felt the effects of the altitude, Dave told me that he saw two Chinese people in the lobby of our hotel with oxygen tubes in their noses. A few hours later we’d take a trip to a street-side hospital and get hooked up with some oxygen pillows which we quickly inhaled. It looked like a fully-inflated plastic blue pillow with a rubber tube and nozzle attached to it. One end goes into a nostril and a plastic lever releases the oxygen. I don’t know if it helped, but it was fun – we took photos and had a good time. Afterwards we watched the extended cut of The 40 Year Old Virgin which was hilarious. We were strongly advised to not do much of anything the entire day as it takes 24 hours to adjust to the air and pressure.
I slept for 11 hours last night in a comfortable bed and had lunch in a restaurant attached to the hotel. It was a Chinese restaurant (as opposed to a Tibetan restaurant), but then, nearly everything around here is Chinese. The overbearing influence that the Han Chinese have had here over the last 40 years is saddening – even in their homeland, Tibetans are a minority. I haven’t had a single Tibetan meal since arriving here, although we did see a number of Tibetan sights today. We went to a monestary surrounded by a circular avenue filled with vendors selling Tibetan wares. I bought a lot of things, all of which are intended as offerings to friends and family when I return to USA. My impromptu trip to Tibet had the added bonus of giving me the chance to collect rare and incredible artifacts to bring home.
I don’t work tonight, but everyone else (Dave, Kimmy, Maria) does. I start tomorrow and work for the following three nights, and then we return to Chengdu shortly thereafter. We haven’t been to a club in Lhasa yet, so tonight will be my chance to see what it’s really about. I expect it to be not very much different from clubs in mainland China, being that most people here seem to be Chinese immigrants. Hopefully more surprises are in store.
I’ll leave here in a few moments to get a real Tibetan meal. No more Chinese food!