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Lhasa is amazing


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So if I understand this correctly, I can post from here, but I can't actually read the blog. Which means I can't read Ace's blog, so I have no idea whether he is making any sense or not. Luckily, we have been here 24 hours now and appear to be acclimatized to the altitude, so his ramblings will probably make as much sense as they ever do.

Lhasa's, and Tibet's, greatest asset is its people. They smile easily and often, and exhibit a cheerfulness which is all the more remarkable given the ample reasons they have to be discouraged and bitter. Ace didn't notice one pilgrim who, smiling, stuck her tongue out at him. "Stick your tongue out!" I hissed at him. I had to explain that this was considered a mark of respect before the ChiComs told the Tibetans that the custom was backwards and to be discouraged. People from the smaller towns still practice the gesture, and it has been very entertaining to see older folk or even young children returning the greeting.

The highlight of the day's journey was sitting in on a ceremony performed by monks at the Sera Monastery, which consisted of a baritone-pitched repetition of murmured prayers and mantras, interspersed with ringing of little bells. To my untrained ear these prayers sounded novel, incomprehensible and fascinating. There is some sort of signal within the prayers which allows the "lead", if you will, to change from monk to monk. At times it sounds like they're all murmuring something different, when suddenly this low cacaphony will fuse into a rising unison. At other times, the youngest monks will quickly jump up from their seats and run out to fetch more butter tea for the older clergy. There we sat, under a canopy of tapestries, surrounded by Buddhas and burning yak-butter lamps, listening to a cloister of red-robed holy men reciting words that had filtered down through the millennia.

And then one exits the assembly hall and notices, beyond the gilded towers and colourful, fluttering prayer flags, the vista of a nearby peak, ensconced in a cloud suspended in the crystal blue sky. And one remembers reading that this country is almost the size of Western Europe, and certainly larger than France, Germany and Italy put together. And perhaps its the hypoxia, but you sort of wonder if this is all a dream, and how such a place could ever exist.


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  • I'm Sunset Shazz
  • Living the dream in Istanbul, Turkey
  • I grew up in the hardscrabble streets of suburban Ottawa, Ontario, committing petty crime, insulting the elderly - basically the classic misspent youth. When I was 19, I moved to West Philly, where I put myself through the Wharton School by dealing crack and hustling. After stints in Paris and London, I eventually graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I put in eight years hard labor working for The Man. But now I pop bottles with models, deciding cracked crab or lobster - who says mobsters don't prosper?
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