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Brian’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 18 Feb 2007

Location: Lhasa, Tibet

MapThe ride home was pretty uneventful. We made it back to Lhasa in time for Losar (New Year) which basically meant all the Tibetan run restaraunts were closing. We heard that one entire hotel closed and kicked all the guests out onto the street.

It was nice to be in a town that had showers again. It's been 5 days of hiking and freezing weather since the last shower. Simply having the opportunity to shower is a rareity let alone the combination of hot water and a shower. One more night in the same dirty clothes that hiked up Everest, helped make a wool carpet, groped by an old woman, drank butter tea on the dirt floor of a goat herders house and countless sweaty hours sitting between two dudes in a land cruiser, or risk a cold shower in an attempt to get clean? I went for clean.

The shower wasn't cold, but it wasn't hot either. It had flashes of hot water. With each flash of hot water I was like a crack addict hoping the next hit would be longer and hotter. It's warm, but only if every inch of your body is under the water, which is near impossible with this damn low pressure shower head. It wouldn't be so bad but the air temperature outside the shower stall has to be around 6 or 7 celcius (40F). I can see my breath in the shower. Damned those broken windows at the end of the shower block! Another flash of hot water! It felt longer that time...almost long enough to make the shivering stop. I thought maybe if start moving enough and use the soap I'd warm up. The water in my hair is as cold as the air - skip washing the hair. Ideally I'd try to get my body temperature as high as possible so the drying process wouldn't be completely miserable, but the intermitten hot water makes that impossible. If I'm under the water its 'OK' but any piece of skin bare to the air is freezing. If standing in the fetal position is possible I pulled it off on this day. Simply hoping for the water to get hotter doesn't make it so. If get out I'm going to be very very cold, but you can't stay in stasis for ever. I imagine it's like standing on the edge of a cliff tethered to a bungee cord. Standing up there sucks, but jumping off could be worse. If only there was a heater in the room. A respite of heat. Cutting off that luke warm water when it was the only source of heat I have had for days was hard to do. At least I knew I had my North Face Cats Meow -7C sleeping bag waiting for me for only $149.99 in the J. Peterman Catalogue. It, and the Nalgene bottle ($9.99) full of boiling water made getting out of the shower possible. At least I'm clean(er).

The New Year came one day after the Chinese New Year. Beau and I wanted to take part in the celebration so we went out and bought Y200 worth of Chinese Sky Candy. We decided the best place to ring in the Chinese New Year was the communist square which is conveniently located directly across from the Potala Palace just to remind all the Tibetan Budhists they were 'freed.' What better place to blow stuff up?! So, we light off a few dissapointing fire crackers when Beau picks up a push-pop sized piece of pyrotechny. He finds a sturdy flat spot on top of a sidewalk light that is flush with the pavement, lights it, and casually walks away. In about 5 steps the car alarms start ringing, children start crying and dogs start barking and all I heard was a constant ringing in my ears. Its a wonder the earth wasn't thrown out of orbit. It was kinda loud. It even had a noticeable shock wave you could feel start to knock the wind out of you. Needless to say we attracted some attention from people we didnt want attention from. Like the green coated military police since we appeared to be defacing their beloved Communist Square. The light Beau set the fire "cracker" on was completely shattered. As the police came closer we decided to make haste and high tail it out of there like any good capitalist would.

For the rest of the night we let the Chinese guys light off the big ones.