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  • Writer's pictureCristina

The buffet is on the third floor

Lhasa Tibet, November 2014

"Welcome to Tibet, this is the room key and the breakfast buffet is on the third floor."

We look at each other terrified. "How on the third floor?" Of course there is no elevator. Lhasa is located at 4200 meters, and every step feels like being on the moon. For those who are not used to it, even taking a step costs a lot of effort and "air sickness" is very common. Little did we know yet that that would be only the first of many climbs. The next day awaited us at the Potala Palace, a must-see for anyone visiting Tibet.

The steps of the Potala, residence of the Dalai Lama, are 365. It is the tallest historical palace in the world. On the way up you can find pilgrims, tourists and monks asking to take a picture together by taking it with their IPhone. From the top you can see Lhasa shrouded in thick fog, even though the sun is shining. These are the many incense sticks burned for offerings.

The next day we climb again. The glacier and lake are almost at 5,000 meters. This time we arrive by jeep. We get out of the car with the motions of a sloth, time for a photo and off we go again. But the view is priceless.

Finally the driver brings us back down to earth. He decides to invite us to his house, and for the first time we enter a traditional Tibetan home to enjoy a boiled potato and some salted yak milk. Needless to say, this kindness will cost us dearly.

We then leave Tibet to reach Beijing. We face a two-day train journey, with no way to get off, in second-class bunks. The train also travels at high altitude because it has to go over mountains. The windows are pressurized like airplane windows, only everyone here smokes. We console ourselves with red snake liquor offered to us by a stranger in a plastic bottle. He looks with interest at our tattoos and says that only people from the underworld have them here. Our eyes fall on his tattooed little finger.


Tibet Lhasa
Lhasa shrouded in incense smoke
Tibet Potala
Tourists on Potala stairs
Monaci Tibet
Monks on the Potala Stairs
Tibet 5000m
Towards 5,000 metres
Tibet - Latte di Yak
Yak's milk

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