Last year, I visited Tibet via overland route from Xining to Lhasa (1,907km long). I had been curious about Tibet for quite sometime. The mysterious Tibetan that stayed up high on the mountain and their features looked a lot like the Native Americans in US, the stories of the Dalai Lama with monasteries and nunneries playing a very strong role in Tibetan culture, the political struggles and so on.
My road trip started from Xining and ended in Lhasa, covered only a small portion of the geographically huge and famous Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. The Tibetan plateau was amazingly vast and as I can see it … Tibetan inherited a freedom of space from their ancestors, the sky was the limit. But the vast geographical space smelt resistance. Checkpoints by stern police and army personnel at every border crossing point created unnecessary twist on my stomach (checking for travel permits, passports and sometimes just finding excuses to look at your face). There were police personnels at every corners in Lhasa too.
And, the risk of experiencing altitude sickness was very high here as Lhasa itself was located at 3660 meters above sea level, passes and some inhabited plateau areas that we passed through along the way were mostly over 3000 meters. The highest was at Tanggula Mountain pass at 5231 meters. I thought that I could survived this journey without popping in the anti AMS pill but I started to experience a bad headache when I was at Xining (2275meters). The pounding headache stopped only after I took the anti AMS pill.
Our journey from Chaka- Geermu- Tuotuohe- Dangxiong felt very isolated. It felt as if we were in a twilight zone. Some nights we were totally disconnected from the world (no phone signals at all, no electricity, no pipe water etc). The view along side of the roads were empty, bared and cold. No trees just piles of rocks, occasionally some open grasslands and plains (totally inhabited). The huge and beautiful man made roads were empty except for some trucks and a few daring motorist like us. The landscape view was splendid, the sky was in deep blue color and the clouds were thick like cotton candies. I had a blast time admiring the sky and the clouds … God’s blueprint was everywhere for the thinkers to witness and to confirm on HIS existence.
For more landscape photos taken during this trip, please browse through my Tibet Zenfolio photo gallery here at Minimalist Mindset in Tibet.
I seldom feel homesick when I travel but during this trip after a week on the road, I started to feel bored and restless. The journey from one point to another was too long … and most of the time we were stuck on our seat in the bus. Plus the constant headache that I had, some drama here and there makes me a bit tired.
I think it would help to have a good companion during a hard trip like this. But finding a good travel companion was not easy. Some times a good companion during our ‘laughing’ time would turned into a monstrous companion when we were on the road. Me? … I prefer to be alone and sticking to my own business, less drama and less distraction. Kurang kan kontroversi, tingkat kan produktiviti (less controversy, more productivity 😉 ).
What else did I see during this trip? From the eye of an outsider who spent just a few days mingling around locals there, what I noticed about Tibetan was their devotion towards their religion. It seems like most of them had that praying beads hanging at their finger tips at all time. Most of them were Tibetan Buddhism but … I did meet some muslim Tibetan while I was roaming around Lhasa’s back alleys.
We came across a few monks performing their ritual act of religious … prostrating at the road side of Geermu on their way to Lhasa. Amazing devotion … it took them a few weeks to reach Lhasa and they survived through donations (food, water and shelter) from passers by. Talking about being a complete minimalist and living with no material burden at all, I think they were obviously a champion minimalist.
I have a lot more photos of Tibetan devotees performing their prayers in Lhasa, feel free to browse through my Tibet Zenfolio photo gallery at Minimalist Mindset in Tibet yeah …
I am a self declared minimalist myself but for this trip I went overboard with my luggage and I left traces everywhere (i.e left my favorite jacket at one of the hotel and a few more here and there). It created unnecessary worrisome to my ‘simple’ mind. I had been taught well during this trip on why I need to be a complete minimalist traveler. Nowadays I traveled super light (except for my never ending struggle with my photography’s gadget). I applied the same minimalist method of living to my personal life too, yeah I don’t visit shopping malls as frequent as before and I am more mindful on my spending (except on my camera gadgets 😉 ). But, hanging around GayaIzzah.com gang and my Breakfast buddies … wow! I am diverting my fashion shopping from the malls to … online shopping arghhhh!
So, what did I get for myself during this trip? Honestly, I didn’t grab anything for myself because nothing caught my eyes. Bought some souvenir for friends and family but I discovered that I can get all these touristy Tibetan jewelry here in Kuala Lumpur with much cheaper price. You can find made in China jewelry just anywhere in Malaysia, no big deal.
I bought one weird looking pendant for my daughter for 20 Yuan (after much bargaining). While doing my soul cleansing (my jewelry soul cleansing 😉 ) at Ikano Power Center in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur … darn! I saw a replica of that necklace pendant (a cat face instead) at RM10.00. Wow! lesson learnt … girl! … you are a lousy bargainer, lol.
P/S – Happy Birthday Malaysia … my Malaysia is always my Home Sweet Home