Goodbye Lhasa!

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
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Trip End Jul 25, 2011


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Where I stayed
Qingqing's Apartment

Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Saturday, May 21, 2011

This morning I got up early and met Maureen at 7 AM to walk around the Barkhor area. The reason we got up so early was so that we could walk with the pilgrims who crowded the streets early in the morning, circling Jokhang temple before the shops opened. It was a surreal experience, as we was a mass of people quietly chanting, prostrating, and turning their prayer wheels as they walked clockwise around the temple. I walked around with Maureen once, and wanted to make another round, but I had to return to the guesthouse to finish packing. So, I said my goodbye and packed and checked over my things to prepare to go to the airport to catch my
flight to Xi'An, which was about an hour from the guesthouse. A driver picked me up and drove smoothly to the airport. When we arrived, he directed me to the area where I needed to check in, and I thanked him and approached the building. It wasn't until later that I realized that he was probably waiting for me to give him a tip, and I felt awful as I would've gladly given him a tip if I the thought had crossed my mind sooner. The thing is, I was so used to not tipping anyone in China (it is typical, especially in restaurants, where if you leave a tip, the waitresses will coming chasing after you out of the restaurant to give you your money back), so it didn't occur to me
to tip the driver. I just assumed that the ride to the airport was part of the tour package.

In any case, putting my guilt aside, I went into the airport, checked in my luggage, and made my way to my gate. The plane arrived about an hour later, and, after one gate change, I boarded the plane to Xi'An. The flight was comfortable enough, as I had a window seat next to a couple of Japanese businessmen. Wishing that my Japanese was a fluent as my Chinese, I eavesdropped on their conversation trying to pick up what I could. They were talking a great deal about business things, so I really had no clue what they were talking about. At that, I took out my pillow-blanket, laid my head on the window, and went to sleep.

When we landed in Xi'An, I called Qingqing, the friend that I was meeting in the city. She told me to take a shuttle bus to the end of the line where she would meet me. I did just that, which was much more convenient than taking a cab, as I'm sure I would have been cheated like in Chengdu. When I arrived at the stop, I waited about for about five minutes and then saw Qingqing happily round the corner. We greeted and then she called her husband to pick us up and take us back to their apartment.

Xi'An is a fairly large city with not much pollution and a lot of crazy drivers. We quickly arrived at their apartment, and Qingqing and her husband helped me with my luggage to the top of their building where there room was. It was a very clean and spacious apartment and I was allowed to use the spare bedroom for my duration there, although Qingqing informed me that her parents would be coming to visit and that I would have to get a hotel after a few days, which was perfectly fine with me. After a short nap, Qingqing and her husband took me to dinner with some of Qingqing's former students. It was supposedly Tibetan style food, although, having just been in Tibetan, the food tasted conspicuously Chinese to me :).

After dinner, we returned to the apartment where I chatted with Qingqing's husband for some time about politics. Soon we all went to bed, me especially grateful for the rest and very excited about certain hot water the next morning. By the way, yesterday while I was out with Maureen in Lhasa, we ran into one of the front desk girls, who matter-of-factly informed us that the water at the guesthouse was operated by solar power, so that if it rained one day, the water would be cold the next day, and if it was sunny one day, the water would be warm the next day. This
perfectly explained why I had a warm shower the day after that sunny first morning I had in Lhasa, and why it was freezing cold when it had rained two days in a row. It was also warm this morning when I left as it was sunny yesterday. Mystery solved.

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That's all for now, check in later for more updates!
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Comments

Hana Beloglavec on

Thalea I've just read most of your blog posts! I hope the rest of your trip is as awesome as the beginning! Let me know when you're back in kzoo!!

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