USEFUL TIPS ON TIBET
Are you thinking of visiting Tibet?
Tibet is really worth a visit it is a wonderful place but not everyone is aware of how to get there really and what to expect.
First of all to enter Tibet permission is required, and you will be able to obtain this permit from the Chinese government only if you can prove that you are not looking for news articles, scoops, or information that might harm China, and especially if you have a direct contact with an agency or a guide since in Tibet it is not allowed to move around alone, but you need (always by law) of an official guide with you. The aim of the guide will be to welcome you, contact and especially follow you at all times. On arrival at the airport in Lhasa, the capital, you will be re-checked and there again precisely you will be asked to show the permit you obtained and that you are not looking for trouble.
After getting over this rather annoying and time consuming step (it can also cost 400 euro to obtain a permit), you can enjoy Tibet, in all its splendour, a blue sky as never seen before and landscapes that are absolutely breathtaking.
Tibet however offers only two things: the religion with all its temples and nature, at its best.
Two reasons that are certainly worth some stress for obtaining the permit.
Since you have just landed you will be advised not to shower nor drink alcohol for the first two days, as a precaution to overcome the altitude and the headaches that it could bring, and also because the water is not very warm and in Tibet there is always pungent air especially at night.
Tibet is not an independent State, it is governed by China, and even if there is a guerrilla in progress, it is more than 50 years that China maintains power over Tibet, so much to exile the last Dalai Lama who has instead pushed for independence, so as to have the Chinese army always first in line in Lhasa.
The Dalai Lama is the highest rank/charge for Tibet and the Tibetans, who consider him a religious leader but also a political head, obviously in full disagreement with China. Every single thing revolves around this conflict, to which also the foresaid permission will be easier to obtain in times of peace, and impossible in time of revolts.
The only airport is in Lhasa, the capital city which is a joyful and colourful city full of life, but as said before everything revolves around the religion. There are temples and monasteries to visit, which however are very much alive and full of people who also spend the whole day there. In the monasteries you will be greeted by many colours but also by many smells, the Tibetans in fact lead in homage melted butter that they place in front of the statue, flowers or give directly to the monks, the melted butter then fills the air with a rather intense odour. Inside the monasteries it is forbidden to take photos, especially in the rooms where the monks pray.
Even if the majority of the people is vegetarian, you will find meat almost everywhere, even that of the Yak that is a bit similar to our buffalo; furthermore you should drink the famous Yak milk, and when drinking hot it almost becomes a sort butter or cream. As for the local dishes you will find many dishes similar to those in China such as the noodles, soy or rice and mixed vegetables of every kind.
In Lhasa you will also find a fastfood but mostly there are cafes and typical places that offer Tibetan specialties. But what will surprise you as it did for us is their own religious devotion, everything revolves around the religion, every free moment for Tibetans represents a good time to pray and every thing of which they speak about is always related to religion but you will never be able to speak about or mention the Dalai Lama, so be very careful, there is also the penalty of arrest by the Chinese government for those who make propaganda in favour of Tibet or speak about the Dalai Lama.
There are many beggars in the streets, but do not worry, in Tibet everybody takes care of the poor who in exchange pray for who gives them a coin,or make ablutions, a sort of extreme prayer in which they lie down on the ground and then stumble for many times (as you can see in the picture). Every Tibetan takes care of the other and considers it his duty, so that even those who are already poor confer a few coins to beggars in the road; their life style is poor and humble all is focused on giving and therefore they shall willingly share even that little bit they have and this is certainly a wonderful thing.
Tibet is an extreme, wonderful but definitely not common experience, our advice is to approach Tibet without prejudices and with the desire to discover a peaceful but very combative people and if you have any questions feel free to contact us.
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