Greetings from Tibet - we are 3700m here in the capital and it is very sad but it is now much more Chinese than Tibetan I'm afraid. We are very lucky however because we have driven here from Kathmandu - along the Friendship Highway - which is almost 1,000km. Our guide is Tibetan however eventhough we all know the truth of what happened here, whilst visiting monastaries etc, he is not allowed to tell us about it - otherwise he will lose his job or worse.
In Lhasa is the Potala Palace - which is where the Tibetan Govt and the Dalai Lama were before the Chinese took over in 1959 - it is spectacular and surrounded by the highest Himalayan mountains. There are many pilgrims here - of all ages. We are learning an awful lot about Tibetan Buddism!
The Tibetan people (as there are very few white people here at this time of year) stare at us (particularly Jonathan because he is so tall!) - and then their faces break into the warmest of smiles (many of them without teeth!) - they are very warm and friendly and on the drive here, our guide, Lak Pa, took us to a small village to visit his sister in law - they were very poor but very hospitable and they offered Jonathan "Chang" which is homemade beer. The other thing they drink here is Yak Butter Tea - you better believe it - it is as disgusting as it sounds!
The Mountains have been stunning - the highest passes we went through were 5200m - unfortunately the altitude made us sick as our bodies adjusted to the lack of oxygen. We were quite lucky though, as we only were dizzy/ nauseus for one night - many people are more severely affected. We are adjusted now and hope on our journey back to Kathmandu that we will not be affected.
The weather has been unexpectedly cold - although the sky is the bluest of blues. This wouldn't be a problem, however none of the buildings, restaurants or hotels are heated. As it goes down below 0 fahrenheit in the night - this doesn't make sleeping very easy - we have been sleeping in every ounce of clothing that we have brought with us - then we just get out of bed in the morning and go out the door - it makes getting dressed in the mornings much easier!! :-)
Finally, the toilets are a real delight - they are holes in the ground and you have to aim to get in the hole (or not - as we found most people aren't so concerned with their aim!) The smell is just foul as well. The only thing that is worse is the burning Yak dung that is EVERYWHERE because wood is very expensive.
Tibet has truly been an experience of a lifetime. In spite of the cold and the less than clean toilets - the people and the scenary are magnificent - our highlight so far!!