At around 7:30am, the sun rose. We got up to take photos of the sunrise around the beautiful Lake Namutsuo. It was a peaceful night for most of us last night except for the couple who had only stayed in Tibet for one day and didn’t give themselves enough time to acclimatize.
The wife woke up in the middle of the night saying that she wanted to throw up. Her husband was in a trance because he was also suffering from altitude sickness. They talked to each other. I got up and offered the wife the can of oxygen that I bought last night after I checked in, some medicated oil and a plastic bag in case she needed it. She thanked me but she refused to take the oxygen. She was probably losing her consciousness like me when I was at the guest house near the base camp of Mt. Everest. I was standing beside her bed holding the can of oxygen while her husband slowly got up and mumbled something. I said to, nearly commanded him, ‘she’s your wife. You need to take care of her. Take the oxygen. You two will need it.’ Then he became aware of the situation and got up and said to his wife, ‘honey, let me take care of you.’ They slowly got up, accepted my oxygen and left the room. I went back to bed.
I later found out they went outside to get some fresh air (and to throw up) but there were stray dogs outside the hostel and then it started hailing. They both had a terrible night.
Altitude sickness is no joke. One of my readers after reading my blog said he’d train himself before his trip to Tibet. There is no point of doing it if you are not climbing Mt. Everest. It’s all about taking enough rest and not forcing yourself to ascend if your body tells you not to.
It’s also about accepting yourself. Your condition. And accepting the environment. That is why Tibet (and any other high altitude places) is so mysterious.
It’s mysterious in the sense that we have to know our own limits. We have to understand ourselves.
The couple didn’t join us when we took photos of the sunrise.
It was freezing cold that morning. I took my friend’s advice – no need to bring any gloves with me – which turned out to be a bad one. It was a very beautiful place but it was very cold. It was probably below 0 degree Celsius. My fingers were so stiff that I couldn’t even press any buttons of my camera. In fact, my whole body was very stiff even with my down jacket on. I couldn’t move around flexibly. The air was thin, it was dry and was freezing cold… harsh environment… but I believed I could survive.
I told one of them that I was freezing. She rubbed my hands with hers and then said, ‘lucky that your hands still look normal. Not purple or grey. Any gloves?’ ‘No.’ I replied with my lips shivering.
Can you see the waves in this lake? Can you imagine seeing a duck in this lake?
No, I didn’t see any but my travel companion from the Mt. Everest trip did. She told me she saw a duck with a golden beak swimming in this lake. She couldn’t believe it too at first but she did really see it. She also took a photo. She believed it was Buddha who arranged that special moment for her.
Different people have different experiences. Each one is unique and each carries some meaning. There is no need to envy the others and therefore, there is no need to be jealous of each other. We all have our own experience. No one can take it away from us.
When we were waiting for our driver in the common room of the hostel, I met a girl from Israel. She was wearing a Tibetan outfit that she bought in Chengdu. It looked pretty on her. She studied Chinese medicine in Israel and after this trip and her trip to Nepal (her next stop), she would go back to Israel and start practising as a Chinese medicine practitioner.
‘Is it uncommon in Israel?’ ‘No’, she answered. I was amazed to know that there were in fact quite a number of Chinese medicine practitioners already in Israel (remember, that was 2005). But because Israel didn’t have all the Chinese herbs, they had to import them from China. Some herbs, as far as I know, were so rare that even in China, it was hard to find them and hence, they were extremely expensive. ‘That’s why you are interested in coming over to China?’ ‘Well, yes, kind of.’ She answered.
I believe, she is now a very experienced Chinese medicine practitioner.
That’s why I like travelling. You get to see a place and you meet people from different countries telling you their own stories and something about their own countries and you make friends. It enriches your knowledge and it opens your eyes. What’s better than travelling? COVID-19, please disappear from this world!!! I want to travel again! That’s why I am writing all my past travel journals!!!
Our 4-wheel drive broke down when we arrived in Lhasa but it was still miles away from the city centre. The driver asked another driver on the road to tow the vehicle to a petrol station. He thought the car was running out of petrol. But after it was filled with petrol, nothing happened. He then realised it was due to something else which I would never know.
We asked the driver to stop at a restaurant. We all needed to eat. The couple obviously looked better now. We all had the appetite to eat, including me. The restaurant sold a lot of buns. I liked buns. It also offered some other dishes. It was cheap and the food was delicious.
After that meal, we said goodbye to each other and continued with our journey.
Whatever journey it was, we continued with it.
I stayed at Yak Hotel that night. Yes, a hotel! Sounds so grand. 😀 The hotel was recommended by the girl from Israel. It had different types of rooms – the ensuite luxurious ones and dorm rooms. For that night, I chose to stay in the latter.
The rooms were all mixed dorm rooms, even the YHA in Lhasa I stayed at was like that. I took a rest after I checked in then I had a chat with my new roommate from Bolivia. He had that funny Spanish accent when he spoke English. He kept persuading me to go to Bolivia. He also recommended me to visit Lake Uyuni (little did I know that I would really go there and other countries in South America in 2013. I will write about it later). I gave him some of my snacks because I would leave Tibet soon. What a short journey! From the day I first got here expecting nothing to today, coming to the end of my journey… I felt sad.
I walked around in Lhasa again. The second last day of my trip. I really didn’t want to leave this place. It was such a peaceful place. There were still some places that I wanted to visit. Tibet was so big and so charming and beautiful.
I could still remember the lama that I met on the way down from Potala Palace. When he wrote his address to me, he asked me if I knew his monastery – Drepung Monastery. He said I must visit his monastery. So, my plan was to go there tomorrow.
But before that, I needed to eat. (Yeah, I know, I was and still am so obsessed with eating! :D) It was also a good sign. That meant I had gained back my appetite and was used to the altitude now, like the locals. Unfortunately, I needed to leave this place soon… I walked around and took photos while I looked for a restaurant.
Two French tourists later joined me. It was their first day in Tibet.
People come and go. This restaurant must have witnessed a lot of it.
14 October 2005
P.S. I have this interesting idea. What if those people that I met in all my past travels found and read my blogs? What would they think? How would they feel? What have they been up to?