My First Trip to Tibet
6:30am we leave Xian Meloday Hotel and drove to the Xian airport. I'm taking a Romanian tourist group to Lhasa Tibet from Xian as a national tour guide. There are 17 people including a tour leader in the group.
I flew from Beijing to Xian yesterday to join the group. Only in this morning I have the chance to meet the group members on the bus for the Xian airport. After a few minutes' talking with them, I feel they are quite informal, easy to deal with. They make jokes, laughing all the way. On the three hours' flight, we are excited to have some glimpse of the grandeur views of the mountain below - the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. I snap some pictures.
Our plane landed safely at Lhasa Gonggar Airport at 11:30am. Gonggar Airport is about 100 kms from the downtown Lhasa, on the southern banks of the Yarlung Zangbo River. Lhasa airport is located at the sea-level of over 3500 metres, making it one of the highest airports in the world. Lhasa has air routes linking to Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xi'an, Xining, Kunming and more. It has also opened up a Lhasa and Kathmandu international regular charter flights.
Our local guide is Nima, a Tibetan guide who speaks a good English. Many of the Tibetans receive English training either at Nepal or India. After driving eastward 30km, we turn north and cross the newly built bridge - Qushui Bridge above the Lhasa River winding along the airport road up to the city of Lhasa. As one of the five major tributaries of the Yarlung Zangbo River, the Lhasa River originates from Nyainqentanglha Mountain (5,020 meters about sea level) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is 551 km long crossing the city of Lhsa from east to west and its drainage area covers nearly 30,000 square km.
On the way, 20km south of Lhasa, we stopped at the Rock Buddha for half's sightseeing. The guide said most of the tour group will stop here to see the rock buddha carving. Nie Tang Buddha is the largest Buddha image engraved in the mountain face. The Buddha image is 9.83m high and 7.9m wide, a must-see attraction on the 100km-drive from Gonggar Airport to the city of Lhasa. The image tells Shakyamuni buddha gained enlightenment under the bodi tree. It takes 10 minutes to view and take pictures.
Lhasa is 3600 meters above the sea level. Everybody feel a little bit uncomfortable. Some of the people, including me, have a kind of headache. On the way from Lhasa Airport to the downtown Lhasa, I'm thinking of three words: sunshine, azure sky and blue water. The mountains are everywhere. But we don't't see any trees on the mountains on the way. The drive says if there were trees on the montians, Lhasa city would have more oxygen!
The group stay at Tangka Hotel. The hotel is a new 4 star hotel, centrally located near. I stay at Tibet Min Tai Hotel. I choose this hotel due to two reasons - free internet width and free domestic telephone. Tibet Ming Tai Hotel is just across Tang Ka Hotel. Tang Ka Hotel is a tibetan Style hotel. All the rooms are spacious with modern facilities. Outside the hotels there are lots of stores and vendors. People all like it. Walking a few steps and turn left, you will see the Jokhang Temple!
Thangka Hotel(4 star):YuTuo Road 38#, Lhasa Tibet Phone: (0891)6308866
Our first dinner in Lhasa Tibet is arranged in my hotel - Tibet Min Tai Hotel, in the western restaurant on the first floor. Tibet Min Tai Hotel, Yutou Road 17#, Lhasa, 86 891 6306111 Fax: 86 891 6307333. Most of the members on the tour enjoy the food though we are all suffering altitude sickness to some degree.
After the western dinner, I take a walk along the Beijing Road. The Beijing Road is divided into three arts: East, Middle and west. The west section is occupied by Tibetan style shops and restaurants; the west section is lined with modern department stores and restaurants. The middle part is the Potala Palace. Lhasa city is smaller than I thought before. All the taxis cost you about RMB 10 if you drive in the downtown area.
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