Such a mysterious place, like Tibet, has always been shrouded in an aura of mysteries and unexploredness, thousands of tourists from all over the world dream to get into it, with their own eyes to see what they talk about so much.
The mystery of Tibet is largely due to the fact that for a long time it remained completely closed to foreigners, and only about thirty years ago, the rules changed: having received a special permit, you can officially enter the territory of sacred places.
The proud highland Tibet is formally part of China, formally, it is its autonomous region, however, the Tibetans themselves and the government, which today is in exile, argue completely the opposite.
According to them, Tibet is an independent, for 2000 years now, a country that only a short period of its time fell under the influence of other states. But let's leave the policy - not for the sake of that travelers go there. And for what? What might surprise a trip to Tibet?
Perhaps for the sake of extraordinary nature? After all, this country is located on a sparsely populated and vast plateau, which is surrounded on all sides by majestic mountains, the bulk of which are the highest and most extraordinary. On the south side - this is the Himalayas - a place that even a schoolboy does not need to tell about.
In addition, it is here that take the source of four rivers, which are called the largest in the world! The spaces between the mountains are covered with dense and practically untouched forests, amazing lakes, among which the famous Nam-Tso is the highest mountainous salt lake, whose waters have an amazing ability to change their color and shade each time.
Or maybe they go here for the capital Lhasa - a city that has managed to sit so high on our planet that only clouds are above it! There really is something to see the tourist, however, you need to immediately make a reservation: the climate in Tibet is really harsh.
Due to the fact that it is located at an altitude of about 3,600 meters above sea level, the atmospheric pressure is lowered - it is more difficult to breathe, headaches and dizziness can occur. To know all the beauty and flavor of the capital. It is necessary to settle in its Tibetan part (there is even more new, Chinese), where life flows in a special way.
And, of course, they go to Tibet for the sake of culture and religion, which the local sages preach. Buddhism is one of the most ancient and widespread religions of the world, there is an opinion that only here you can see it in a completely different, sublime light.
Many go to Tibet for the sake of self-development, a reappraisal of values, and even, perhaps, in order to remain in this religion forever. For Tibetans, Buddhism is a whole world, a faith that affects every side of their lives, which, by the way, is very difficult and harsh in a harsh climate and political problems.
How to get there?
Since the country has long been closed to the public, direct flights from major cities and capitals of other countries are not organized here. The easiest option is to fly from a major city in China, although it is not recommended for people with poor health - sudden changes in altitude can adversely affect their well-being.
You can ride on the highest railway in the world, Tibet-Qinghai. This trip will take about 16 hours, the window trip opens stunning views of the local nature.
Where to stay?
Due to the fact that the Chinese government is actively developing the tourism sector, recently an impressive number of different campgrounds, hostels, hotels and hotels have opened in Tibet for a different tourist wallet.
From the variety of choices you need to stop where it is most convenient for you to get to places that you would like to see: this is why some people prefer to settle closer to the mountain ranges in order to later go to conquer their peaks and monasteries. If you decide to enjoy the sights of the capital, here you can always choose the right hotel or hotel.
What to see?
Although Tibet is a very small country, the eyes of the local attractions just run away, because there are so many places that I would like to visit and see with my own eyes. By the way, some of them are high in the mountains - hard to reach, but so unique!
If you do not have the opportunity to enjoy the local beauty for a month or even more, then you need to highlight the main points that every traveler who has come here to visit is simply obliged!
Lhasa As we have said, this city is the capital of the entire region, the Land of the Gods, which means its name. The most recognizable landmark is the Potala Palace, which dates back to the VII century and has long been the main residence of the Dalai Lama. The palace has a very peculiar architecture, 13 floors and its total height is 115 m!
But the main splendor is not at all the delightful appearance of the palace, but its inner wealth and decoration. Each room of the palace is decorated uniquely and luxuriously, inside there are a multitude of jewels, gold and works of art that are monitored. By the way, inside it is forbidden to take photos - so all the beauty will have to capture only in my memory.
The famous Jokhang temple is even more ancient than the Palace, thousands of pilgrims visit it every year, and hundreds of Tibetans kneel around it every day. Jokhang, together with the monastery of Ramoje, make up the oldest part of the city. It is by their architecture that one can judge how Tibet looked like before it was built on modern buildings.
Drepung Monastery is another place to visit. Once it was the largest Buddhist monastery, in which at the same time lived about ten thousand monks! It also houses the Ganden Palace, which was the residence of the first four Dalai Lamas. Monasteries and temples - this is the main feature of Tibet, no trip to this region passes without visiting these magnificent places.
Do not forget to visit Norbulingka - another great place that is great for meditation, self-discovery and leisurely walks. This is a park complex, on the territory of which are the summer palaces of the Dalai Lama, as well as a lake and a zoo.
Another famous landmark is the sacred mountain Kailash, which is located in one of the most inaccessible areas of western Tibet. Buddhists believe that at its summit (6,700 m), which, by the way, has not yet been conquered by climbers, is inhabited by one of the reincarnations of the Buddha.
Tibet: 10 reasons to go there
Tibet: 10 reasons to go there
By Yevgeniy Ikhelzon
The word Tibet is shrouded in a kind of mystical halo; among the "spiritually seeking," it sounds almost like the word "dream." If you erase the mystical raid, you can try to objectively tell why you need to go to Tibet. I really think that these places should be visited, despite all the difficulties with paperwork and moving.
- Landscapes. The beauty of the Tibetan Plateau is fascinating. The road from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu to the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region Lhasa fascinates throughout. You look at the snow and lunar landscape in the window of the bus or car, and do not notice how the clock passes.
- The most high-altitude train. Railroad Tibet - Qinghai - the highest in the world. In some areas, the train rises to an altitude of 5400m, and only 14-15 hours in the high mountains. Outside the window, yaks, sheep, snowy mountains, swampy waters. Oxygen is supplied to the cars through the openings above each shelf; without it, breathing is much more difficult.
- Passes. A unique opportunity to test yourself on the subject of altitude sickness. On the road to Lhasa from the side of Nepal there are 4 passes at an altitude of more than 5000 m. At that time, as you painfully rearranging your legs, you will walk to the side of the toilet, which says 5248 (height above sea level), the locals calmly and with a smile move - on foot and on horses. Some cheerfully trade in souvenirs, covering their faces from the icy wind.
- Tibetans. Tibetans in Tibet are not at all like Tibetans in India or Nepal. People living in their natural habitat look cheerful, many wear traditional clothes. Tibetans are sociable and welcoming, even if they do not know any languages, communication is a pleasure. For photographers - portrait painters - the mass of unique faces and original men's and women's jewelry.
- Buddhist monasteries. The architecture and decoration of Tibetan monasteries are special, in addition, they have preserved many ancient statues that are 500-700 years old, you can see elements of the ancient Nepalese style, Chinese elements, as well as Tibetan proper and motifs that came from Central Asia in ancient times. The monasteries of Tashilunpo, Drepung and Sulfur are huge, each 5-6 times larger than the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, cooking-sized boilers the size of a kitchen in a standard Ukrainian house.
- Buddhism. Those who harbor illusions about the unique Tibetan Buddhism or Tibetan mysticism just need to visit all the major monasteries. In order to see that in its spiritual content it is about the same as visiting a fast food restaurant, the main occupation of the monks is to count the bills brought by believers. "Vіlna kasa!" A great way to destroy all mystical illusions. And this is not at all because the traditional culture was destroyed after the Chinese occupation, because in continental China Tibetan monasteries are the same.
- Lhasa. The city divided in half - on the Chinese new and Tibetan part. Despite political tensions, it is pleasant to be in Lhasa, to wander along the winding streets of the Tibetan neighborhoods is a delight. And one must undoubtedly live only in the Tibetan part of the city, where life flows like in a huge communal apartment.
- Potala. The palace, which served as the residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959, together with the monasteries of Jokhang and Ramoje is the foundation of the old city. True, around the palace itself all the buildings are already modern. Potala was seen on photos and postcards, but the appearance of the palace is nothing compared to what treasures and great works of art are inside. In the precious stupas inside the palace, the bodies of the previous Dalai Lamas rest, from 5 to 13, there is a lot of gold and precious stones, you can not take pictures.
- Yamdro tso. The sacred lake, lying at an altitude of almost 4,500 m on the road from Gyantse to Lhasa. No camera can not convey its color, size and grandeur. To the credit of the Tibetans and the Chinese, on the coast so far they do not build summer cottages, and the children of the local elite do not ride on sky-blue waters on water bikes. At the same time, one can freely approach the shore and even plunge, as several of our friends have done.
- Soft occupation. You can read the news on the Internet, and you can come and see everything yourself. In Lhasa, in fact, restless, the streets in Tibetan quarters are patrolled by the military, and at each intersection there are large glass booths, where soldiers of the PRC Army are on duty. Meetings and meetings are prohibited in the city. This situation persists since 2008, after a mass uprising, when, according to official data, 18 people were killed in clashes with the army and police, and thousands, including about 1,000 Buddhist monks, were arrested. Because of the dramatic events mentioned above, the tourism business, whose owners are mostly Tibetans, is suffering very seriously. Fewer foreigners come to the region, hotels are empty even in season. At the same time, what is happening does not look like a genocide of Tibetans, as described by the Western media. There is no curfew in the city and no documents are checked on the streets, the movement of foreigners in Lhasa is free (in the rest of Tibet it is accompanied by escorts). This is more like a soft occupation, the struggle for the independence of Tibet has long gone, and time will tell what kind of community will be born as a result of the interaction of two great cultures - Tibetan and Chinese.
Why did I go to Tibet?
This is the most popular question. The uninitiated people ask it with the subtext of "what is so interesting there", the dedicated ones - "they just don’t go there like that."
In Tibet, I was with a small group of five people.
My group after the bark around Kailash
Before flying to Lhasa, our guide, Svetlana Pasha (pictured in the center in a purple shirt), gathered everyone at a restaurant in the evening, so that everyone would tell why he went to Tibet in general and to Kailash in particular. And I was the only one who admitted to the "accident" of the trip. Everyone else had long dreamed of Tibet, or went to Kailas to "change their lives."
After my last tour in Asia, I was wondering where to go next time. I wanted again “somewhere in Asia”. I usually plan a vacation maximum a month before departure. While reading reviews about Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan, for some reason I climbed into the SPAM folder and accidentally noticed there a letter about Tibet. I do not remember that I subscribed to this newsletter. The letter brought me to the site of the Kailash Tourist Center, and I immediately decided to go to Tibet.
Someone calls it an accident, someone - a magical predestination or a subconscious desire. But the fact remains: I decided to go to Tibet a month before departure and before the conscious desire to go to Tibet, I don’t remember. Muldasheva did not read (although, perhaps, there are some excerpts in school). “Seven years in Tibet” - watched only the film (not bad, but without any particular enthusiasm). But in the subject of esotericism since childhood.
Why in Tibet is not savage?
I usually travel by myself. But, after reading about Tibet, I decided to go with the group. And after the trip I can confirm that it is better not to go into Tibet on my own.
The Tibet Autonomous Region continues to be under the tight control of China. There everything is divided into areas, at the entrance and exit of which checkpoints and inspections. To stay in each area is given a fixed time. If you don’t have time to leave, there are problems, up to deportation, etc. Moving around Tibet only in groups of two tourists at least, plus a local guide. In the annex to the contract it was formulated as follows:
During a trip through the territory of the People’s Republic of China, in connection with the rules established by the PRC in Tibet, you will be deprived of the possibility of independent movement and the possibility of independent choice of route, places of stops and overnight stays.
Thus, just go to Tibet and the campaign case to choose a route will not work. Everything must be planned in advance and authenticated upon receipt of a visa, as well as confirmed when crossing the border. It is better to entrust all this dreary organization to specialists. As I already wrote, I first came across the Moscow firm Kailash. She specializes in pilgrimage tours to places of power, both in Tibet and around the world. You can also contact local companies in Nepal - it will be cheaper, but not the fact that it is better (I will continue to describe how everything was perfectly organized here, including camping).
Preparing for Tibet
Traveling in the highlands is associated with certain health requirements. On the Horton Plateau in Sri Lanka, I was at an altitude of 2000 meters, on a volcano in Indonesia - at 2500 meters. The Tibetan plateau has a height of about 5,000 meters, and there are passes along the road. Above 3,000 meters above sea level, mountain sickness is already rampant.
What is worse there at high altitude, compared with St. Petersburg or Moscow:
At altitude, the temperature decreases on average by 0.5 degrees every 100 meters.
- Low humidity
Already at an altitude of 2000 meters humidity is two times lower than at sea level. The body loses fluid not only through skin fumes, but also through the lungs during hyperventilation.
- Solar radiation
Dry and clear air at a height significantly increases the exposure to the radiant energy of the sun. The intensity of solar radiation increases by 1% every 100 meters, and ultraviolet radiation - by 3-4%. You can quickly and quietly burn, if not smeared with a cream with a high degree of protection. And if you do not wear mountain glasses, you can get a burn or inflammation of the retina. Well, or just the eyes fall out 🙂
- Atmosphere pressure
At an altitude of 3000 meters, the air pressure and the amount of inhaled oxygen is one third less than at sea level. At an altitude of 4000 meters, the amount of inhaled oxygen is halved. Lack of oxygen leads to hypoxia.
In general, at an altitude of 5 kilometers, any man in the street who considers himself in good physical shape will very quickly cease to think so. For example: I am friends with physical education and I am preparing for Tibet. But at 5000 meters in the hotel I forgot myself and decided, as usual, to run up the stairs (only on one floor), and not slowly climb, as our guide constantly demanded. So, along the corridor to the room I was already walking along the wall and for another 5 minutes I came to myself on the bed
Therefore, it is strongly recommended to all for 2-3 months before the trip to increase physical activity (running, skiing, cycling). I gathered in Tibet for a month, so there was not much time for preparation. Running in the mornings is lazy, so I limited myself to a daily jump rope and a bicycle 1-2 times a week. If you are not friends with physical culture and sports, then you need to be more careful in preparation.
Про особое питание и приём всяких витаминов и прочих таблеток — как выяснилось, для туристических вылазок с этим можно не заморачиваться. И вообще, витамины в таблетках у многих вызывают вопросы.
Если есть проблемы со здоровьем, то обязательна консультация с врачом. It is very easy to aggravate heart problems and chronic diseases at height. Here is a frightening excerpt from the annex to the contract:
A tourist traveling on this route should not have cardiovascular or mental illness. Traveling along this route with such diseases can be fatal.
What to take with you
You can not specifically buy and do not prepare. In our group was Lyosha, who arrived with a suitcase on wheels and in slippers. All the rest he took or rental in travel agency in Kathmandu, or bought on the market.
I was preparing more thoroughly and bought in St. Petersburg. The organizers have sent a full list of necessary things. Almost everything I bought in advance. For example, my first-aid kit before departure:
More information about the first-aid kit and the rest of the equipment in Tibet in the next post.