14.09.2012 27 °C
Well we have been travelling for just over a week now, and I'm sorry to say that if I don't see a bowl of rice again it will be too soon!! I love the food (except for a couple of experiences in Tibet, which I will explain later), but there is only so many meals in a row you can eat rice and noodles!
Well we have now arrived in Chengdu (capital of Sichuan Province), after a 3 day stay in Tibet. A lot of the group struggled with the altitude but we all acclimatised just in time to leave again.
We arrived in Tibet to a glorious day and my gosh blue sky and absolutely no pollution....we hadn't seen that in a while. However, for this pleasure, we had to endure the high altitude of 3,600 feet above sea level. As previousy blogged (which I really don't remember writing it actually - not due to inebriation, but to altitude sickness) we struggled, however, we went out to dinner and a show of traditional tibetan dances. Here is where my first food faux pas happened. As not a lot of people in Tibet speak english, we had no translation on what the food was. I will try anything and I thought I had picked a nice bean salad with maybe pork or fish??? After tasting and not liking, I pushed on to eat a bit more (as I didn't want to be rude) I later learned that it was not pork or fish, but in fact tripe!! Urgh!! I'm sorry to those who may like tripe, but it is quite disgusting. It took all my might not to regurgitate my meal.
The following day we visited NorbuLingka, the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace. The summer Palace was built in the 7th century by the 7th Dalai Lama and obviously this is where he resided in the summer months. We then went to Jokhang Temple, and to be honest we don't really know what it was used for, most likely the Dalai Lama used it in some capacity. I must explain our loal guide Larda, a lovely Tibetan man however, most of the time went into way too much detail that you actually don't remember anything he has said and his pronunciation was not all that clear sometimes....but a really sweet man. After Jokhang we browsed through some street markets just outside the temple.
Then we went off to eat again and WOW, this place was not so good. Here was my second food faux pas and to cut it short I ate liver, heart or kidney, not sure which internal organ it was but positive it was one of them. This place ensured we all lost our appetite quite quickly and sitting next to the very stiky toilet did not help matters.
Next day bought us Potala Palace, which is where most of the Dalai Lamas are entombed (in pure gold tombs). We had reservations that we were going to make the 312 step climb to the top, but as Larda says "Yoooou caaan doo it" - (translation "You can do it"). Check the photos out to see how high we climbed, and a pretty good feat if I say so considering we were all still suffering altitude sickness in some form or other. To my surprise after the climb I felt the best I had in Tibet....I think the monks blessed us on the way. We then headed out to see more monks at the Sera Monastery, here we witnessed debating monks, where senior (standing) questioned junior monks (sitting) about philosophy. Can't understand a word they are saying, but quite mesmerising to see their activities. This session goes from 3-6pm daily.
You are now pretty much caught up on what we have done so far. We are only in Chengdu for 1 night which we are sad about as it is a really nice city. We visited the fabulous Jinli Old Street Markets, but only had 1 hour to browse through the many interesting and varied stalls. We looked like two crazed women competing on Supermarket Sweep, running frantically from stall to stall spending all our money!! Chengdu has also provided our two most favourite meals to date, nice and spicy chilli sichuan style dinners.
Tomorrow we are off to see the Pandas and then a 4 hour bus trip to Chongqing to board the boat for the Yangtze River cruise.
PS, photos are now up to date