Tuesday, February 1, 2011



Had a good nights sleep due to both taking Nyquil and also we heated water in the hot water pot off and on during the night to add some moisture to the dry air; consequently we were better prepared for our long travel day. I felt fine except for the stuffy head but Jim was finally having his “Tibet” day and felt like he was moving in slow motion most of the day.

Our bus left Lhasa about 8:30 am and headed for the airport. Before entering the long tunnel we stopped along the highway for a photo opportunity at the large orange Buddha painted on the side of a mountain in the seventeenth century. People wrap their gifts to the Buddha in a while silk scarf (like the ones that were given to us by Tassi as we arrived and again by the hotel as we were leaving this morning) and toss them on the mountain. The higher up it lands the better the prayer; the entire mountainside was covered with them.

The flight back to Chengdu was a bit shorter and the weather was clear all the way for more fantastic views of the Himalayan Mountains; as we neared the city the pollution became heavier again. But, we could all breathe again with the lower altitude. Most of us are still suffering from either stuffy sinus conditions and/or beginning of colds caught from the orphan children. Nearly all of them had runny noses; but who could refuse to take their hands while they lead us around their home? Time will tell what our problems are as we adjust to the changing altitude.

We met our bus at the airport and began our five plus hours trip to Chongqing where we boarded the river boat for our cruise down the Yangtze River. I had prepared for this ride by bringing our First Class Sleeper cushions and a small pillow for Jim to sit on. It really helped our backs to survive the trip. We will have another long one at the end of the cruise so we’re really getting our monies worth out of the sleeper pillows that I purchased at the travel show. Jo provided us with snacks of rice cakes and peanut butter based cookies; Elisabeth contributed fruit for our enjoyment. We were well nourished after enjoying our meal served on the airplane plus the snack in lieu of stopping for lunch. The food was much more appetizing than the one they served on the flight over to Tibet.

Jo gave us more information and answered our questions; especially those involving the issues of whether or not the changes made by China have been good or bad for Tibet. One question we asked was about the registration as either a farmer or city person and when and how that can change. It seldom changes and I also realized that when they said that seventy percent of the Chinese are farmers; it means that seventy percent are registered as farmers. Probably less than thirty percent still actually farm the land. For example because her parents are registered as farmers she is considered a farmer. Many things such as schooling is tied to your registration and it is very difficult to change from a farmer to a city registration. Population numbers are also tied to the city that you are registered in; so there are probably many more people in the large cities than the census figures show.

I also asked again about the cars not being more than fifteen years old. She said that yes, they will not registered them after they reach the age of fifteen; but some people sell them to people who are in the countryside where they will drive them only in their villages and not on the highway because otherwise the government does not pay you anything when they stop registering them.

The drive was long but interesting to see the countryside. The highway could have been located in California, most was on a toll road; but the condition of the road was not as smooth as we’re used to. Very bumpy in spots; we passed many rice fields and saw the farmers in their shorts working in the rice paddies. Again, in the cities as well as in the countryside we saw laundry hanging from the balconies, trees and many other unusual places. They definitely like to dry things in the open sun light.

Arrived in Chongqing about 7 pm; the largest city in China population wise at seventy million inhabitants. It is also one of three cities called Kiln Cities in China because of the weather; very hot and dry most of the year. We dropped the shoppers off at the local supermarket to purchase snacks for the cruise and they walked to the restaurant where we had dinner. Nice to see the chopsticks again! And yes, lazy susan was back in our lives again. From there we drove about fifteen minutes to the river boat: The Victoria Cruise Line. The ship can hold about two hundred passengers and we’re in a group of about one hundred twenty-five. It has five levels and we are on the third deck. Nice sized rooms with sooooooft beds, a good sized bathroom and all the comforts of home except that the power is such that all battery charging has to be done at the front desk. Each room has a balcony that we can sit on as we cruise down the river. By 9:30 we’d showered, washed our hair and gathered in the lounge for the general information meeting. Afterwards we went up to the top deck to see the boat depart from Chongquing and then off to bed and I must say one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had for some time. Must be that soft bed and the gentle rocking of the boat.

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