Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Day 9: 12 March 2008
Itinerary: Lhasa, flight back to Chengdu

Today would be my last day in Lhasa, I will be taking the afternoon flight back to Chengdu. I had half a day to spare. Due to the accidental low-res camera setting yesterday morning, I decided to go back to Yao Wang San to re-shoot photos of the Potala.

Jokhang at the break of dawn.

Potala radiates different aura at different time of the day, I like it best with the morning sun reflecting off its cream white walls, the dark red tops make it look like toppings over vanilla ice cream!

This is the back gate where visitors exit from the palace.

Potala from the back.
The open square opposite the Potala.

Great view of Potala from the roof of the Youth hostel!

A view of the Youth Hostel's interior.

Graffiti notes abound on the walls of the Youth Hostel.

Shop at the Youth Hostel.

Fantastic spicy BBQ meat! Really spicy hot even when you asked for less than mild!
(Talked about deja vu, the guy who BBQ this for me was sitting just behind me on the Airport Coach into Lhasa together with his grlfriend. I think he either owned or partly owned this little eatery. His girlfriend was working with him as well! And it was them who recognised me first! )

A last look at Jokhang and Bakkhor Street:

Gonggar Airport, Goodbye Lhasa!

I made it to Gonggar Airport to catch my flight by the minutest of margin because it was my mistake not to check the Airport Coach departure times and had to wait for shared taxi to accumulate the required number of passengers, ideally four unless the passengers agree to pay the additional amount to make up for the shortfall in numbers the taxi will not push off. The Airport Coach cost RMB25, the taxi cost RMB30 per person (i.e. RMB120 before the driver will agree to make the trip to the airport.).
When I reached the airport, the check-in was already closed (Damn! The 2nd time it happened on this trip, the other one was at the Budget Terminal in Singapore.). Luckily one passenger who was in a wheelchair did not feel well and was offloaded. The check-in staff managed to bring the entry system back online and checked me in instead. Talk about lucky! If not I would have to wait for the next flight an hour or so later, which was the last flight out for the day.
I made a dash to clear the customs check and luckily the plane was only getting ready for boarding with all the passengers queuing up in line. YES! I made it! What a relief! The flight was not very full and I bumped into a Hongkong couple whom I had met at Potala snapping photos for them and them for me. Talk about coincidence! They were bound for Beijing on the same flight that I would be getting off at Chengdu. I sat next to a gentleman who is dealing with heavy vehicles and regularly come to Lhasa on business trips.
The flight was pleasant and when I reached back to Chengdu, the same driver who had sent me off was there on time to pick me up. His wife and little kid was in the vehicle as well and I was glad to meet both of them. The kid was doing his homework during the journey back to the hotel and watching him write in Chinese, I made a little comment in jest that his handwriting was horrible, just like MINE! We had a good laugh about that!
Departing from Lhasa I did felt a little bit sad to leave because I really liked the place and there were many places more to see which needed a bit more planning ahead than I thought. Anyway I had a good trip there nevertheless, met some really nice people along the way, stayed at a fantastic hotel right in the heart of Jokhang/Bakkhor old quarters area and the experience I had I could never forget. I had been to the top of Europe and now I had been to the Roof of the World! I hope to be able to make another trip back here in future if possible, hopefully including a train trip either in or out of Lhasa. That would be something else altogether!
I reached the hotel, checked-in, settled the arrangements for the visit to the Panda base tomorrow morning as well as the final part of this trip - the Yangtze River cruise.

No comments: