Arranging this trip was a test of perseverance and patience but thanks to my dynamic friend Gayle it has actually happened and here we are. By Chinese standards this week is going to be expensive but my guess is that to arrange it from Perth the costs would be a lot higher.
Little did I know that my last day teaching Lucy was Wednesday morning as she had meetings on Thursday and Friday so I could have left Shanghai earlier, but that’s the nature of being a private teacher. After being generously paid and a fond farewell I jetted off to Chengdu and stayed at Sim’s Cozy which is one of the best backpackers I have ever stayed in, the attention to detail was amazing and the lovely verandah’s to relax on were great. The internet was excellent so I used it sort out my holiday arrangements for the next 6 weeks. Then up at 4.30am Sunday to catch my flight from hell to Lhasa. As one of the other sympathetic passengers reassured me it could only happen once in a life time then added it may have been karma for something I did in a past life. Anyway I was all settled in my window seat waiting for take off when I young woman arrived with a crying 4-5 year old. Her efforts to pacify the child had no effect, the little girl just kept sobbing ‘I want my Grandmother’ (in Chinese) and crying. Once the plane started to move and the little girl slept for 25 minutes she told me the child had been living with her Grandmother for a year and was returning to her Mother and that she had met the child only yesterday. Grandparents doing the child rearing is very common here.
So I arrived into 3650 metres (very rapid ascent, I have been worrying about altitude sickness) with very little sleep and shattered nerves. As I waited for Gayle to arrive from Xian my brain started to struggle and a headache developed. She bounced off the plane full excitement and we exchanged congratulations on actually making this happen. On the 40 minute trip into Lhasa we flipped between catching up on the last 2 months and admiring the mountains. By the time we had arrived at our hotel I was struggling to put 2 words together and just wanted to eat and rest. Gayle hammered out some of the details of the next few days with our guide Droma then we rested. About 5pm we headed out to the Barkor market, the sun was still very strong, amongst the tourist shops the pilgrims were whirling their prayer wheels and making an odd number of circuits around the temple. I was aghast at the energetic salutation of worship some of them were making, it involved a ‘burpy’ then lying flat on the ground. I couldn’t even walk fast let along do something like that. Hopefully these symptoms will ease after a good nights sleep.