Archive for May, 2011

A Macau Chinglish Farewell

Posted in Life in Macau with tags , , , , on May 23, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

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Lhasa, Tibet

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

Sign does not lie

I consider the Tibetan capital city, Lhasa my first official stop in my Asian Winter Odyssey.  I was traveling for this first leg of my journeys with my former co-worker Kevin and his boyfriend Matt.

Me, Matt and Kevin outside the Lhasa Train Station

After our 25-hour train journey from XiNing, we arrived at the chilly city of Lhasa.  We were ready to be on solid ground and enjoy the comfort of a 3 star hotel bathroom.  (Mind you, my bedroom in this 3-star hotel had a hole the size of my first in the wall to the outside.)

8 November- Arrival Day and Kevin’s Birthday

Upon arrival we met our tour guide, Phuntsok. (SIDE NOTE: The pronunciation of his name sounds like “Pencil”.  Therefore the three of us still affectionately refer to him as and think of him as Pencil.  And furtherly therefore, I will spell his name as Pencil throughout the rest of my blog.)  Pencil delivered us to our hotel and made arrangements to meet in 2 days to begin our tour.

That night, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday at a Hot Pot restaurant.  We ate lots of mushroom soup and drank the famous local yoghurt drink.   (It was very tart.)

That night I was cold while trying to sleep.  I pulled my blanket over my head and thus drastically reduced the amount of oxygen I could breathe.  With the already high altitude (3490 m (11450 ft)) in Lhasa, I started to feel pretty sick.  I’ll spare you the details and skip to the part when I get some bottled oxygen and begin to feel much better.  🙂

9 November- Free Day in Lhasa and My Birthday

We used our first full day to acclimate to the altitude and explore the area on foot.

Potala Palace and Its Reflection

Yak!

We ate dinner that night at a vegetarian restaurant in honor of my birthday.  🙂

We met a very talkative kid at the restaurant. All he could say in English was "Hello!"

We also found a cute little café with free wi-fi and street signs from Hong Kong.

10 November- Sera Monastery and Jokhang Temple

We met up with Pencil again and began our guided tour of Tibet.  We went to the Sera Monastery and the Jokhang Temple.

The Sera Monastery

 

Jokhang Temple Prayer Pole

After visiting both of Buddhist Temples/Monasteries, we wandered through the outdoor market stalls.

11 November- Potala Palace

Tibet’s most famous palace is certainly, the large Potala Palace.  It is the former seat of the Dalai Lama.  For history of the current (14th) Dalai Lama read here.

12 November- Drepung Monastery

We visited the Drepung Monastery, which is located on the side of a mountain and offers a nice view of Lhasa and has many nooks and crannies in the rocks where people have built small shrines.   The highlight of this day was sitting in the assembly hall during the monks’ chanting.  It was so powerful and beautiful that I got a little weepy.

Stupas

I SO need one of these!

My stay in Lhasa was COLD, COLD, COLD and TOTALLY stunning.  I was floored by the constant prayer of the natives.  They carry prayer wheels and build prayers into flags, scarves and everyday actions.  I fell in love with Tibet and its brilliant colors.

We did not photograph the insides of the temples and monasteries, however, they were also amazing.  Pilgrims carry yak butter to pour into vats to burn in offering.  They stuff low denomination notes into any crevice in the wood or brick and toss them at the feet of all the icons.  At most places, the pilgrims were lined up by the hundreds.

In the city center, the Chinese military was very visibly present.  They have sheltered stalls with 3 to 6 men in each at most intersections.  We were told that it is illegal to photograph the army.  See more information about this here.

See more (many) more photos of Lhasa here.

Read more about my Asian Winter Odyssey here.

Life is Like a Train

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

My 25 hour train ride from XiNing, China to Lhasa, Tibet was somewhat less exciting than its fictional counterpart above.

We had a first class sleeper cabin with pumped in oxygen to ease the effects of the climbing altitude.  We each ate several rounds of Cup Noodles.  I added peanuts to mine for protein!

And we took a bunch of photos of snowy mountains.

Kevin and Matt enjoy the scenery

Yak

We had several stops along the way and popped out to take photos.

Ge'ermu

All in all, it was a fairly uneventful journey.

UNTIL>>>>

Oh My God! They Killed Kenny

See more photos of the train ride here.

Check out the rest of my Asian Winter Odyssey.

Northern Bound- from Macau to XiNing

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

Good-Bye Macau!

To start our journey to Tibet, Kevin, Matt and I gathered at the Dragone offices to say good-bye to Macau and to celebrate our birthdays.

From Macau, we crossed the border into Zhuhai, China and caught a car to Guangzhou.  We spent the night at an airport hotel in order to catch our early morning flight to XiNing.

In case of emergency, our hotel room provides...

We spent the day in XiNing enjoying its contrast to the almost-European Macau.  It is a medium-sized city in the Qinghai Province of China.  The people are primarily Muslim minorities.  At an altitude of 2,275 m (7,464 ft), it is quite cold and the air is thin.  The architecture is both more Russian and more Arab than it is Chinese.

Communist Sculpture

BAAA-AAA-AA

La Femme Cactus at the Train Station

Candied Fruit at the Market

The Army Men

The Mosque

That night, we boarded the train for our 25 hour journey to Lhasa.

See more photos of Guangzhou and XiNing here.

Read more about my Asian Winter Odyssey here.