April 25-May 2nd, Tibet with Land drive to Kathmandu, Nepal – Stage 2 of trip
4/25/1999 Sunday – We arrived in Lhasa and enjoyed a fabulous welcome by the locals with dance and song and costumes and music, it was amazing! The Yak is very revered here because they are a true resource to the people…they burn Yak oil lamps, have Yak milk everything and even use Yaks to plow their fields.
We then enjoyed a hotel lunch in the dining room and then after, anyone who was up to it, had a tour of Lhasa and some of the local sites. A lot of people, out of almost 60 were starting to feel the effects of the high altitude and stayed to rest and catch their breath…literally. We are at almost 12 thousand feet in altitude…high for flying right in. Most people enter from the Nepal side so that there is a gradual incline in altitude, but not us, we flew right in and drove up and across Tibet all the way to Kathmandu.
I have prepared wisely for the higher altitude and part of my luggage supplies are alternative support for health while here…. I have been taking double the vitamin C, 2000 mgs, for two weeks now and will continue to do so while here in Tibet. Along with a bottle, and yes one of them broke in my luggage UGGGG, of black strap molasses which has a high concentrate of iron to get the oxygen carried to the brain quicker at these altitudes.
So, I felt good…Me, Mom and my friends all headed out for the afternoon tour of Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazar right here in Lhasa to enjoy the people and the sights and smells and sounds of the market.
The views were incredible. You could see the Potala Palace, the 5thDalai Lama’s winter residence which was added to the original structure of 637 (built by Songtsen Gampo) in 1649 and they didn’t finish construction until 1694. The Tibetans call this Peak Potala or “the Peak.” The 3 “hills” surrounding Lhasa are said to be the protectors of Tibet.
By the time it gets dark here at night, around 8:30pm, there isn’t much to do after that in Tibet, so we all went to bed early feeling like we were walking on the moon as we acclimated to the climate and altitude. Tomorrow would be the tour of the Potala Palace and the Gelungpa monasteries, the largest in Tibet…so excited couldn’t really sleep…couldn’t breathe well either…. there is Oxygen in each room if you need it
4/27/1999 Tuesday – My mom had been rooming with a lovely lady from Germany named Suzanne since last night on the very quick Chengdu trip and now again in Tibet. Suzanne and some of the others informed me before bed that my Mom wasn’t feeling well from the altitude and they had called the Doctor in. I was concerned but the next morning Mom said, “Go on to the Palace and I’ll be fine, I’ll rest here all day, it will be OK.” So, I left with a small group, by this point many of the folks were feeling the same way, but my Mom’s room was more elevated than most.
I loved the palace and of course at the end of the tour of the whole place there is a small “gift” shop and I fall in LOVE with the most gorgeous Thangka (Tonka) I had laid eyes on. It was one of the things I wanted/needed for my Flower of Romance area of my Manhattan apartment to support my Love/Relationship area and had on my list to look for this trip. A Thangka is a hand painted scroll that the monks do as a form of mediation, like the sand art mosaics they create…this was antique and real…most you see are reprints…this was the Color Chakra and Compassion Buddha in an embrace of love and unity. Only thing was it was CASH ONLY and it was $150, cheap for this type of handcraft, and I only had a credit card…UGGGG…I asked EVERYONE in the group if they had cash they could lend me, but no one was carrying that much cash around in Tibet. I had to leave it and a piece of my heart behind…everyone said, “You’ll see one in Nepal, you’ll find another one, etc., etc.,” …I never did find one like it again or since.
When we got back from the day trip, I was told my Mom was moved to the local hospital because the visiting doctor and the forms of medicine they had on hand at the hotel were not working for my Mom’s altitude sickness which is very dangerous if not addressed. I grabbed a cab and headed over to the hospital with a friend and was surprised at the conditions of this hospital in Lhasa…they would move someone out of a bed and put someone else right in…. on top of Yak fur and a small grey sheet that was never changed. People are smoking and spitting all over the ground in the hospital and conditions are none like I have ever seen. A doctor comes over and writes me a prescription that I must take to a window and purchase with the chit he gave me and the Tibetan money, bank notes and coins, and then they check it and send you to another window to pick up. You bring that to the doctor in a little glass vial of some sort…he breaks the top off right there on the floor and administers to my Mom in the hopes she stops throwing up and having severe headaches.
They tell me after hours of being there they are going to have to admit her for overnight. That’s when I get a pit in my stomach and say I’m taking her back to the hotel for the night and will talk to the tour guides and teachers about what to do.
Turns out when it comes to severe altitude sickness the only cure is to get you to a lower altitude and QUICK!! After much discussion and concern and worry by me…we all decide the only way out is the next plane back to China. My Mom will leave at 5am the next morning to a lower altitude AND one of the guides will go with her to the airport, etc. I feel mostly comfortable with that because tomorrow early we leave for our Scenic Drive across Tibet on the Friendship Highway and there is no way she can make it in a bus/jeep each day.
4/28/1999 Wednesday Early Morning – Lhasa, Tibet leaving for Friendship Highway – Mom got off OK and I was off for my journey MILES away from home and any type of phone or computer for that fact. The Friendship Highway one of the most scenic and beautiful routes I’ve ever been on was a really rough trip with up to 10 hours a day in a bus for 5 days with, sorry Tibet, shit food to eat, I had a hardboiled egg and an apple every day and if I was brave the Yak Jerky they gave us, most days it was brown bagged.
The accommodations were horrible mostly cold nights with no heat or running water. I was glad my mom had flown out because in the condition she was in that trip would have been impossible for her. I knock on wood I didn’t really get affected at all by the altitude other than a headache for a few hours at the highest pass we traveled. Lhasa was great and the other big city we went to the following day and the energy in the mountains and at the lakes was wonderful, BUT all in all, it was very trying and a hard trip with the dry dusty elements in the day and cold not very comfortable conditions at night.
By the 4th day on the road, I started to feel uneasy and had cabin fever from being on the bus for so long. We would encourage the driver to stop often, and I busied myself by doing yoga poses at the different peak stops along the way.
5/1/1999 Saturday Night LATE – By the last night when we landed at the final hotel before crossing the border and customs to Nepal there was a really bad rainstorm and we JUST made it to the hotel before the road behind us washed away and anyone there was turned back for MILES of a stretch before civilization again. Our whole group made it through, and boy were we glad to be together, and our journey on the bus coming to an end, but our drivers and guides will forever be in our hearts. We made it overland to Gyantse, Xigatse, Xgar and finally Zhangmu.
A Timeless Journey with Professor Wang de Yu
Lhasa begins our stage 2 journey “The Rooftop of the World.” This is the world-famous traveler’s destination. It is said that eventually everyone needs to come to Tibet at least once to face their karma – or so the story goes!
We will be joined in Lhasa by our Feng Shui Scholar Professor Wang, who will take the journey with us to Kathmandu, giving us the chance to ‘Trace’ the dragon energy in the shapes of the mountains and valleys. We will also be studying I Ching readings and Form School principles with Professor Wang.
In Lhasa we have 2 full days of sight-seeing planned. We will visit the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred and active as well as oldest temple in Tibet. Barkhor Bazar famous for its Tibetan Handcrafts, antiques, street performers and it’s push and shove market economy.
Potala Palace, which is a vast white and ochre fortress, a sight that has heralded the marvels of the holy city to travelers for 3 centuries. It is one of the wonders of Eastern Architecture. A short distance away on the west side of town are the important Gelungpa monasteries of Drepung and Sera Sect which are the largest in Tibet. In their heyday they were home to over 10,000 monks. We will also visit the Norbulingka, former Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas.
Although we are staying in the top end accommodation at the Holiday Inn, we suggest an evening drink at the famous Backpackers, a Tibetan run Yak Hotel in the Barhor area. We may even get a chance to sing a few rounds of “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door!” – From the study tour brochure.
Professor Wang Yu De: The head of the Historical Research Dept. at Wuhan University (1999). He was the main teacher on the 1996 study tour and has written many books on Feng Shui published in China. Prof. Wang joins us in Tibet where he will travel with us overland to Kathmandu. We are honored to have him lead us in Landscape Feng Shui and Dragon Lines teachings on the “Rooftop of the World” with one of the top Feng Shui scholars of the world!
My Class Notes from Prof. Wang – 5/1/1999:
-The I Ching (EE Ching) is not used in Tibet along with the Feng Shui like it is in China.
-The reason for no I Ching being used could possibly be because Tibet has their own language and the I Ching is written in Chinese…Most Tibetans don’t read Chinese.
-Some people think that the I Ching is a philosophy and others think it is fortune telling. Either way it’s an important book to the Feng Shui.
-It’s divided into 2 parts
1.) I Ching; 2.) I Zhuan, explaination of I Ching
-Symbols of the sun over a side laying crescent moon are ALL over Tibet along with the Prayer flags and backward X’s with over hangs at the end of each stroke over all the doors…a symbol of Recycle which came from Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty.
-Tai Chi, or as we now know it, the Yin/Yang symbol was created by Feng Shui Master in the Sung Dynasty and became popular in the Ching Dynasty.
1.) What is Feng Shui? Concept
2.) Basic Series about Feng Shui
3.) Geographical knowledge of Feng Shui
4.) Astrology of Feng Shui
5.) Calendar of Feng Shui
6.) Application of Feng Shui
7.) Arrangements in Feng Shui
8.) Folk Culture of Feng Shui