Monthly Archives: October 2013

Picture this

I have been in a lot of staff rooms over the course of my career but never one like this.  I was there earlier this month along with three of my staff (Geoff doesn’t attend these sorts of things) (Ed. note: Hey – is that  SHOT?) for a grade 10 meeting with the parents.  They are new to our program so it was time to tell them more about it and our processes, expectations we have for their kids and hopes we have for working with them.

We were encouraged to arrive late so that most of the parents would be seated when we made our entrance (just a little different than how we do it at home!), then took our seats on the raised platform at the front of the room, behind a formal speakers’ table and microphones appropriately stationed.  My experience is that parents in BC don’t generally take pictures of the staff at these meetings, but they do in China!  The number of Iphones that came out was amazing!  Not sure what they will do with the photos.  Perhaps they write blogs.

We were fortunate to have been able to speak at the start of the meeting, so after the presentation by the grade 11’s, showing off their much-improved English skills, we said our bits and sat back to listen to the Chinese principal speak to the parents in Chinese for another half an hour.  What can I say–my mind wandered and I took in the room.

The windows are covered by heavy gold velvet drapes, topped with a scalloped valance, trimmed with golden cord. More ballroom than staff room, really.  The ceiling is a work of art and hard to describe.  A curved mid section is framed on all sides by sweeping, terraced white ceiling, inlaid in various parts with subdued lighting and interrupted by 3 curved cross pieces, inlaid with brass strips.  The center shape is like an oblong peace symbol painted red, sitting on glossy black struts. Like a theatre, the exposed ceiling underneath is painted a flat black.  Suspended from the struts is a disco ball and another of multi-coloured lights.

Just as I was thinking they could rent the place out for small weddings or birthdays, it came to me what is was for:  KTV!  Karaoke!  The Chinese are mad about it!  I certainly did not know this before we came but it is hard to miss here in Jiaxing.  In the city, you will find  signs advertising karaoke on the top floors of malls and numerous buildings and also many stand-alone places that have been built specifically for this trade.  Often these are the glitziest, biggest and brightest places around, lit up by flashing neon at night.  No, we have not gone but that is to save the rest of the place from our singing.   We got a taste of their love of karaoke at last year’s school New Year’s party where too many toasts were given and people, including me, got up to sing.  Enough said.  It won’t be my turn this year!

Check out this place. It is FULL of rooms where you can meet with old friends for good old fashioned Karaoke singalongs. Now, I have also heard that you can also make new friends in these places who will do more than just singalong with you. (Ed. note: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink) It is unlikely I will ever be able confirm this so I will leave it at that. However, for scale, we took this picture of Terry at the front door.

Say Hi to Terry - she is in the blue square.

Say Hi to Terry – she is in the blue square.

This week our teachers told us about Vivi, where you could get an honest to God hamburger, but you have to ask for the “Special Menu”. We have been to Vivi once for drinks so off we go. Two photos for you. One is self-explanatory – and no, Terry didn’t eat all of hers (Ed. note: no comment on Geoff. Also, the side order of fries were on his side of the table). 

Three patties, a german sausage, cheese, bacon, tomato and sauce. Dig in!

Three patties, a German sausage, cheese, bacon, lettuce tomato and sauce. What – no fries?

And the second – I am prepared to accept any bet, of any amount, from anyone that this server has NO idea who Harvey Milk was.

How that got to Jiaxing is WAY beyond me.

How that got to Jiaxing is WAY beyond me. “Everysody”? And why copy this shirt?

This week was also the week we got our pomelos from the school. 24 of them, in fact. I asked one of the kids about the school giving us fruit and she said that her mother says it is welfare for teachers! Out of the mouths of babes..

Life is a bed of Pomelos

Life is a bed of Pomelos

In the last blog we talked about meeting up with Andy and Cheryl, two expats from Australia, last night for dinner. We had a great time. Another friend recommended that we try out the middle-eastern restaurant on the 3rd floor of Walmart, (Ed. note: I know – Walmart?) so off we went. It was full and there was a lineup to get in, which is always a really good sign. The meal was fine – of the 8 dishes we ordered, we would certainly order at least four of them again (you must remember that the menu selections here are enormous so 4 of 8 is good). Anyway, we won’t bore you with what we had (mostly) but rather tell you what we didn’t have. I have absolutely no idea how to comment on any of these, so the caption just reinforces the title on the menu.

Hand Grasping Mutton

Hand Grasping Mutton

Spill His Cow Meat

Spill His Cow Meat

and of course

The Prairie Clutching Meat

The Prairie Clutching Meat

We did however have this dish – recommended by the waitress. Terry decided to shake the chicken’s foot – but in the end recoiled since she would have had to actually touch it to do so.

Shake a Paw, Jock

Shake a Paw, Jock, Lucy whatever…

From there it was off to the Foot Massage Parlor. We were greeted at the door and escorted upstairs by this charming man. I don’t think he was much over 5 feet tall, and as we stood waiting for the elevator he kept looking up at me and finally gestured “So tall”.

Good Hair, Dude

Good Hair, Dude

Andy and Cheryl go to this place a couple of times a week so they are well known. As a result, the staff were falling over themselves to look after us – fruit, tea, hot water whatever. $16 for one hour – foot, back, head, neck etc. It was really relaxing. Naturally we all had our own masseurs/masseuses. Cheryl, Andy and Terry had men who kept saying how beautiful Terry was and Geoff had a young woman. Geoff was not prepared to experience another man trying to prove how manly he was by getting his leg over his head, as happened in Shanghai with resulting back problems and attendant headaches.

Anyway it was great fun – listening to them giggle away as they yammered on in Chinese with looks at all of us. One of them thought Terry was 39 and they did not believe she is actually 59. According to Cheryl (and I’m not sure I trust her), none them had any difficulty in believing Geoff is 62.

Wave to the camera, Andy.

Wave to the camera, Andy.

Cheryl and friend.

Cheryl and friend.

And here is masseuse #110. The question is why is she so somber? Geoff’s feet were clean and he hadn’t kicked her as a result of being tickled. (Ed. note: The oil felt great.)

See below for the answer.

See below for the answer.

Went for a nice long walk this morning. Just outside one of the government buildings we approached this fellow from about 100 yards away. I assumed he was talking to his son/daughter telling them all the great things the government does for them. He was very animated in his dialogue. However, as we passed him, we saw what you see – no one is there. (Ed. note: No one unless you count the basketball a la Tom Hanks’ “Wilson” in Cast Away). He continued to jabber away as we walked another couple of hundred yards. Bizarre.

Listen to me when I'm talking to you, damn it!

Listen to me when I’m talking to you, damn it!

And finally, why did my masseuse look so somber?

You would too if  you wore these to work and your hours were 10 am to 11 pm. Even then, we did have some good laughs.

You would too if you wore these to work and your hours were 10 am to 11 pm. Even still, we did have some good laughs.

Transportation, Sunday Afternoon Lectures and Breasts

At the risk of having nothing left to write about or show you for awhile, I (Ed. note: Who do YOU think is writing this one?) thought I would clean up a bunch of old and new photos, stories, experiences etc. Oh wait. Tomorrow Terry and I have to go in to Shanghai to the Canadian Consulate to have some papers notarized. That should be interesting – seeing our and your tax dollars at work – no blog stuff? Right. Wednesday I go back in to Shanghai to see an endodontist about an infected root canal I have – like that won’t be blog material. Thursday and Friday is the Annual Sports Meeting at school. Last year they held it on a weekend and we had to work but this year during the week AND we don’t have to work the weekend to make up for it. I’m sure there will be stuff in there to share. Friday night we are venturing out to the other side of town for dinner with Cheryl and Andy. Pretty sure more blog material there. Wow, this IS a power packed week! Better get to it!

Let’s start on a Transportation Theme

We were sitting on the plane in Lhasa (Ed. note: Last Lhasa literary looks) waiting to leave and we look out the window. Nicely organized, don’t you think? Thank God it wasn’t raining.

Well, we got it TO the plane didn't we?

You wanted it ORGANIZED? We got it TO the plane didn’t we?

Now, I have talked about the number 97 bus before. This is the one that takes us to the train and often there are three or more lined up. Schedule – what schedule? Terry thinks it must be a highly coveted run and only open to the senior drivers, since it can leave them with a 30 – 60 minute nap. Anyway the other day there were so many of them there, this guy had to park on the opposite side of the road AND on the sidewalk to boot.

I don't think this woman knew it wasn't actually a bus stop - just a stopped bus.

I don’t think this woman knew it wasn’t actually a bus stop – just a stopped bus.

Carrying on with the China in Motion tour (sort of), here are two examples of “parked” cars. The first is an example of someone who didn’t pass the parallel parking test. The next one we came across yesterday afternoon. The car was just parked in the middle of a four lane road. The people in the background were chatting away – don’t know if they belonged to the car or not.  Let’s move on to how, after you chop down the cherry tree (or whatever kind of tree you have in your yard) you get rid of the trunks.

Hey, there's a spot, what's the big deal?

Hey, there’s a spot, what’s the big deal?

"I don't think I'll leave any flashers on - I'll just make all the cars go around me while I go off and do something else for a while."

“I don’t think I’ll leave any flashers on – I’ll just make all the cars go around me while I go off and do something else for a while.”

Good firewood - if we had a fireplace.

Good firewood – if we had a fireplace.

"I'm alive, I'm alive!"

“I’m alive, I’m alive!”

Imagine, if you will, you are a bus driver. You are waiting at a red light to turn right. (Ed. note: Now I know most of you will say “Waiting – they never wait” and most of the time that is true.) This time, however you really were waiting. As the light changes to green, this woman hits the throttle and makes a left turn and tries to get around the corner before you. Well! That’s just not going to happen so you hit the gas and it becomes a bit of a dogfight for half a block while you cut her off. Remember, scooters don’t exactly have the quickest acceleration in terms of 0 to 60mph. Finally, she sees the error of her ways and backs off. After all, remember the hierarchy – size matters!

(Terry’s ed notes:  Standing at the bus stop to come home, I witnessed a number of traffic infractions, which are common place.  Had I been speaking out loud, I would have said something like this:  Are you kidding?  You’re going to pass this guy about 100′ from the corner, then turn left into the on-coming lane?  Well why wouldn’t you?  And you, blasting away on your horn.  Can’t you see the woman’s turn signal?  She’s turning left, for the love of gawd, while you are attempting to pass her in a school zone!  Now, you, sure, back off the sidewalk, into on-coming traffic.  What’s this–are you going to park in the bus zone?  No, just copping a u-ee.  Okay then!  Never a dull moment waiting for the bus.)

When I was much younger I  wanted a British racing green TR6, but the closest I ever got was an olive green MGB which, to be perfectly honest, although peppy, did sound a little like a sewing machine when you stepped on it (Ed. note: figuratively, not literally – the stepping on it I meant). To borrow from Melanie Safka, Look What They’ve Done to My MG, Ma.

If the colour isn't bad enough, it's a G.D. hatchback!

If the colour isn’t bad enough, it’s a G.D. hatchback!

Speaking of destroying an icon…

Peaarlized Pink - with YELLOW side mirrors? Shoot me, PLEASE!

Pearlized Pink – and although the “pearls” look yellow, which have might actually been the intent, they weren’t. And  YELLOW side mirrors? Someone shoot me, PLEASE! (Terry’s ed notes:  Anyone got a gun?)

And finally, on this theme. You know how large trucks, buses etc. have the beeping sound when they are backing up? I am standing on a corner today and I hear the traditional Chinese version of the beep. I look around and there are no large trucks though. Suddenly I notice this guy and he WAS backing up and the sound WAS coming from him. I almost wet myself.

Beep...Beep...Beep

Beep…Beep…Beep

And now, Sundry and Random

Now (with no photos), I want to say that I am no longer offended by the fact that little Chinese kids (1-2 yrs old) wear no diapers and have no stitching in their little pants so that when they have to take a little pee, they can squat – anywhere, anytime.  But, come on mom, right outside the door of KFC so that I have to step around him and the little river flow…c’mon… (Terry’s ed note: this is why Puneet left Jiaxing.)

Yesterday (Sunday – remember that) we went down to Moon River (think Granville Island on a MUCH lower in-every-way-possible scale). We were sitting on a bench waiting for our event to start (more about that in a bit) and all these people are walking by and gawking and staring at us. Terry’s comment – “It’s like we’re at the zoo and we are the animals”. Anyway, for all you prairie people out there, do you think this would make a good curling broom? Pretty sure it wouldn’t leave any straw on the ice. This IS the standard Chinese street sweeper broom.

Sweep, sweep, sweep

Sweep, sweep, sweep

Want to borrow Terry's jacket? At least she pushed the sleeves up. And although you can't quite tell, those boots have fur collars on them.

Want to borrow Terry’s jacket? At least she pushed the sleeves up. And although you can’t quite tell, those boots have fur collars on them.

I was very comfortable in my shorts and short sleeved shirt. Terry was regretting bringing her little jacket since she had to carry it and then there was this woman sitting across from us.

Anyway, our Sunday afternoon event was to meet the Grade 11 class at the “Soft Bar” to hear a lecture on the history of Jiaxing, delivered by a university professor and sponsored by the parent council. Excellent! Now two points:

      1. It was in Chinese
      2. Imagine telling grade 11s at home they were going to spend their Sunday afternoon listening to the history of Vancouver.
      3. Exactly – however the kids were very well behaved but very bored – at least for the first hour we were there and I assume the second hour they were there.
Blah, blah, blah. Ididn't say attentive - I said well-behaved.

Blah, blah, blah. I didn’t say attentive – I said well-behaved.

Also Sunday we saw this fellow – unfortunately I didn’t get the phone out while he was walking just balancing this 50 pound bag of rice on his shoulder with no other assistance and carrying the bags of meat in each hand.

"Just where did I leave that dang scooter? Oh there it is."

“Just where did I leave that dang scooter? Oh there it is.”

This is a defunct phone booth – repurposed as a place to advertise. Somewhat ironic, I thought, that the inside (right hand side picture) is advertising cell phones.

From Old is New

From Old is New

There were three people (two middle-aged women and a middle-aged man) working on this particular “Chain Gang”. They would come out, load these 1″ thick 30″ x 30″ marble squares onto their slings – one on each slide, the slackers, go back into the building, disappeared up the flight of stairs and then come back down and repeat the process. I saw them about 2:45 and did they ever look exhausted!

Workin' on a Chain Gang

Workin’ on a Chain Gang

Finally, how does this ever get done?

No, it looks really good this way!

No, it looks really good this way! (Terry’s ed notes:  Illiteracy at work, perhaps?)

(Ed. note: To our long time readers – you may remember Terry talking about sex ed with our Grade 10 girls last year and their (and other adult) assertion that breast feeding does not exist, specifically in Jiaxing, if not China as a whole. Well, I am here to tell you it does indeed occur in Jiaxing – and I saw it live and in colour in the RT Mart parking lot today! And just like the kid peeing outside KFC, no photos. Hey, we have standards – low ones, but we have them.)

(Ed. note: Well there it is all done and cleaned up and now I am out of stuff. Pray that the Consulate etc. gives us more material! Cheers.)

Whoops – there is always The Shoe

Too big - too small - who gives a rat's a*% - I want them and ESPECIALLY with the cool metallic straps and rivets. (I'll trim my nails later.)

Too big – too small – who gives a rat’s a*% – I want them and ESPECIALLY with the cool metallic straps and rivets. (I’ll trim my nails later.)

The Nuns of Lhasa

In a blog Terry wrote from Tibet, she (Ed. note: my apologies to Uncle Lew and Aunt Vivian) referred to the nuns we witnessed and the fact that whenever they weren’t doing something or other around the nunnery, you would find them sitting and chanting. I had thought that I had lost this, but luckily it turned up. The sounds you hear “in the background” are the nuns. Also, any time you hear something that you think might just be snippets of other tourist’s conversation, it isn’t – it is a nun chanting something on her own. No one outside of the nuns made any “noise.” Imagine – if you aren’t sweeping, cooking, praying whatever, this is your existence – day after day.

To go to the other extreme – pretty sure none of the nuns wore these! Avast ye matey!

Don't mess with me, Bucko!

Don’t mess with me, Bucko!

The Women of Starbucks, Shanghai and Other Tales

First some stories, sans photos.

The women of Starbucks

  1. Many of you who have followed the blog from the beginning will remember Ms Sour Face who never, ever smiles. She was in a relationship, then out, then in and then out. Well this week her fella came in with her – once. And then he was gone again. This was the first time I have seen him since we have been back. As usual, he smiled at me and said hi. As usual she continued to implement the frowning disapproval of life as she sees it.
  2. Ms Ina Hurry various the colour of the dress, the colour of the sweater and the colour of the shoes - but not by much!

    Ms Ina Hurry varies the colour of the dress, the colour of the wrap and the colour of the shoes – but not by much!

    Ms Ina Hurry (right) continues to whip up to the front door at anytime between 8:20 and 8:21 (I am deadly serious about the time. She is NEVER any earlier or any later – and people say I’M anal!!). Anyway, here’s the thing. For over a year now she has worn one of only three dresses, three “wraps” and one of two pairs of shoes. All three dresses are exactly the same style and length – only the colour changes, same for the wraps. The shoes are either the blue in the photo or black stilletto. Her hair style is also exactly the same every day. Can anyone tell me what job she might have that would cause this? (Yes, yes, I know I’ve used he photo before, but who gives a fig!)

  3. Who remembers “Happy Days” – one of the best TV shows ever. Who remembers “Pinky” Tuscadero? Well, this next story is about a woman I shall call Ms Pinky. Ms Pinky, her 2 1/2 year old son and her ayee (nanny) have started coming in to my office everyday for about half an hour. The entire time, Ms Pinky is on her phone, ignoring her son. I’m thinking this isn’t the only time she ignores him since he is always taking the ayee’s hand automatically when they leave, if he falls, he goes straight to the ayee for comfort, he puts up a bit of a fight if, upon leaving, Ms Pinky attempts to pick him up etc. Anyway this week my little heart broke a little bit. They left the office and then the ayee picked up Junior and left. Just after they left Ms Pinky waved at someone crossing the street, walked out to the street, squatted down, spread her arms open and someone else’s little boy ran into them and she swooped him up, big smile on her face and the three of them walked away. So sad. (Ed. note: Why Ms Pinky? It is because, more often than not, despite driving a nice new Lexus, she wears a pink, polyester, out of the 80s, sweatsuit. I had hoped to have a photo, but I accidentally deleted it from my phone. Sorry.)

The Ladies of Shanghai

  1. Can anyone tell me why it takes three women, ages 25 to 35, to take an 18 month old to the doctor’s office?
  2. Can anyone tell me why all three of them then have to go into the examining room with the nurse and the child?
  3. Can anyone tell me why it then takes all three of them AND the nurse to get the now screaming child on to the scale to weigh her?

And Now on to

Other Important Tales

World Record Time

Does referring to him as Sterling Moss date me?

Does referring to him as Sterling Moss date me?

  1. To take the bus from our apartment to the train station, we allow 40 – 45 minutes depending on the time of day.
  2. We allow 30 – 35 minutes by taxi depending on the time of day.
  3. Sterling Moss here did it in 18 frightening minutes the other day. Look for him soon in the Guinness Book of World Records. I think he thought it was a race, because every time he passed another cab he honked, looked over at the driver and laughed.
SOCO arrives

SOCO arrives

Crime Wave Hits Jiaxing

On the way to the bus this morning Terry noticed that the local convenience store had been broken into. They pried up the security gate, slid a plastic garbage container under it, pushed oped the sliding door somehow and in they went. We have often wondered what the police here do and now we know. The officer with the gloves on is the SOCO (hey I watch TV – it means Scene of Crime Officer!) and the small black case at his feet was his kit! Big action on Hongbo Lu.

On, off, on, off etc. etc. etc.

On, off, on, off etc. etc. etc.

What a Load!

This poor bastard. We were on our way out the other day and saw this guy from about 200 yards away. Those are packages of insulation on his bike. They had worked themselves loose from the ropes and a few fell off. He would put them back on in the front and some would fall off the back. He would put those back on and the ones at the front would fall off. This kept on going as we walked up. We were all set to help him (despite me knowing what a sweat I would break out in) when a friend came along. But it was VERY funny.

Garbage Day in Lhasa

Garbage Day in Lhasa

Bring out Your Dead (from Monty Python)

So we are waiting for our driver to pick us up in Lhasa and take us to the airport for our trip home and this garbage truck (granted, a scenically painted garbage truck)pulls up, stops and turns off the ignition. All of a sudden people come out of the woodwork with their garbage and they throw it in the back. If CUPE ever hears about this, you could all be in trouble. (Ed. note: The guy in orange was not a garbage worker – he was a street sweeper emptying his stuff in the back.)

Be Preventative
And where might this have been found?

No explanation required

No explanation required

And finally,

The Shoe of the Day

I have been waiting for over a year to get a photo of a woman in HIGH heels riding a scooter. That heel goes right to the floorboard, folks! Plus, the bonus today was the tiara, the jackets and all the other stuff she had on that scooter!

I have been waiting for over a year to get a photo of a woman in HIGH heels riding a scooter. That heel goes right to the “floorboard”, folks! Plus, the bonus today was the tiara, the jackets and all the other stuff she had on that scooter!

a day in MY life

Now I know that most of you think that all I (Quasi Ed note: this is actually Geoff, not Terry, writing) do is sit around Starbuck’s all day drinking coffee and whiling away the hours until I get the opportunity to get back in the classroom with the kids and Terry (we’re doing team teaching for as long as Terry can stand it – or until next week, I think). Not so Grasshopper (just returned from Tibet). I want to let you know that I do a lot of other stuff, so here is what I spent MY day on today (at least until 2:50 pm).

6:00 up, turn on the hot water for it to be ready when Terry wants to get up and have her shower.

6:25 up, check for comments (only 1) on Terry’s blog from yesterday (Thanks Lois)

6:30 into the shower

6:45 told I better hurry up or we’ll miss the bus – shovel down last four teaspoons of breakfast yoghurt

7:00 get to school only to discover that because I was in a hurry/hurried out the door, I forgot my glasses

7:10 try on every grade eleven’s (20) glasses – how do they have such bad eye sight by 16-17 years of age? I was almost nauseous looking through them. Only one even came close to the 1.5 or whatever it is I need.

7:30 watch as Terry teaches Part I of the Terry Fox story, reducing me to my annual basket caseness of blubbering tears

8:10 out for weekly flag-raising ceremony. Nine boys march (think Russian May Day type steps) about 20 yards with the flag, then three trot over to the flag pole and then …

They actually play the national anthem three times:

  1. When the boys are running with the flags (now I admit I have only been to a few of these, but it seems to me that it is ALWAYS boys – guess girls just don’t attach it right or something
  2. When the flag is going up as in the video
  3. When it is flying and everyone then sings the anthem (well, everyone like at a Canucks pre-season game with no Mark Donnelly to lead them)

8:30 explain to Mr. Zhao that Pajama Day at a school has NOTHING to do with teachers getting free lunches

8:35 back to more of the Terry Fox story

9:30 try to skype with Ken to solve some of my other job related duties – bad connection – no contact

9:45 watch these gardeners – and get exhausted doing so.

These four women have hoes with tines about 8 inches long and they are trying to break up the "soil" which looks like the stuff in the bottom right. They area they have to do this to is roughly the size of a football field.

These four women have hoes with tines about 8 inches long and they are trying to break up the “soil” which looks like the stuff in the bottom right. They area they have to do this to is roughly the size of a football field.

9:55 spend 5 minutes trying to figure out why anyone would park their car so close to the shrubs that getting out would be next to impossible.

Here's a stupid idea. If there is a passenger with you let them out and then turn the car around and park it facing the other way!

Here’s a stupid idea. If there is a passenger with you let them out and then turn the car around and park it facing the other way! If you don’t have a passenger, then just turn the damn thing around!

11:00 spend 45 minutes talking with Cici and Judy at Starbucks. Cici, the manager, and Judy, a barista and manager in training, want to learn English – and I have a plan! Andrei, one of our teachers, wants to learn Chinese (See where this is going?) Cici is married with a son, but Judy – well she is single. So on Friday at 4pm I am introducing Andrei and Judy and perhaps they can help each other learn a new language. (Cici is on her own).

Hey, I just don't stare out the window at Starbucks - I contemplate, I plan... (Don't worry Elena, I will chaperone...)

Hey, I just don’t stare out the window at Starbucks – I contemplate, I plan… (Don’t worry Elena, I will chaperone…)

2:00 I leave my office for the day, exhausted! But my day is not over – and I have discovered something. There IS a blind person in China and he lives right here in Jiaxing. We have shown you the sidewalks in China with the rounded bumpy tiles in the middle so the blind know where to walk. Well in a year plus WE HAVE NOT YET SEEN ANYONE WITH A WHITE CANE OR EVEN BEING HELPED! Until today. In the courtyard at our mall there is a stage where various events take place. Just as I was walking by, I saw a man on the stage take another man’s hand and lead him off the stage. It was clear that man number 2 is blind. It was also interesting, because unlike Canada where the blind take the guide’s arm and follow, here the guide just took his hand and led him – which worked fine until they got to the stairs… yes the guide had to catch the fellow since he had no warning he was stepping into space.

2:05 after that debacle, I watched someone lead an elderly man up on to the stage. I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening (Battle of the Disabled or Infirm?) until this happened: (Watch for the HUGE audience and listen for all the car and scooter alarms set off)

2:30 watch as a car from a half a block away keeps edging further and further over to the left, finally driving into the oncoming traffic rather than slow down or stop for the elderly woman in the crosswalk (and no Terry, that elderly woman was NOT me).

2:40 check on the vegetable garden

Remember this? Took the one on the left when I saw a woman hand watering it in September. Well, 4 weeks later... Does it look like fertile soil to you?

Remember this? Took the one on the left when I saw a woman hand watering it in September. Well, 4 weeks later… Does it look like fertile soil to you?

2:50 start blog

5:00 make dinner while Terry exercises

Plus I did all of this with a serious toothache! Yesterday was 7 Tylenol and 2 Aleve and today it is better – only 6 Aleve. Dentist in Shanghai tomorrow!

This is China, next chapter

The move toward modernization is evidenced everywhere in China:  exotic architecture in Shanghai and modern highways, infrastructure and high-rise towers everywhere.   Why then, does it persist in looking a bit down-at-the-heels, even in the modern cities?

  • Building supplies are poor.  For example, galvanized nails and screws seem not to exist here so when a new A/C unit or window guard is installed, it is set with screws and brackets that rust.  In short order, the building exterior becomes stained and ugly. (see caption/picture below)

    Left: You can just make out the telephone line coming out of the bottom of the two holes in the wall of Terry's office and down the wall. It then goes under the air conditioner at the bottom then across the next air conditioner and off to who knows where (bottom right). Top right: quality workmanship of the line in Terry's office. The stains on the wall below the window (bottom right again) are rust from the nails/screws in the concrete. You see this all over China.

    Left: You can just make out the telephone line coming out of the bottom of the two holes in the wall of Terry’s office and down the wall. It then goes under the air conditioner at the bottom then across the next air conditioner and off to who knows where (bottom right). Top right: quality workmanship of the line in Terry’s office. The stains on the wall below the window (bottom right again) are rust from the nails/screws in the concrete. You see this all over China.

  • I request a land line at school so I wouldn’t have to hang my head out the window to pick up cell reception.  No problem  The white wire pictured here is the line run to connect my new phone.  It is fed through a hole in the wall that at one time fit an A/C unit. (see picture above)
  • Wrought iron fencing is very popular but appears not to be treated, so within a short time frame, begins to corrode in a very serious fashion. It is unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

    Left - a nearly perfecly intact section of the fence. Right two examples of what most other sections have at least two examples.

    Left – a nearly perfectly intact section of the fence. Right – two examples of what most other sections have at least two corroded bars.

  • In a country able to plan for wholesale change in the location of the population, builders seem unable to contemplate needs in advance, like A/C.  In a lot of places, like Jiaxing, you NEED A/C.  But the builders don’t install it in advance as it is an expense for the future owner (remember the apartments are all sold as shells which the owner needs to finish as desired).  So when people move into the apartments, they hire someone to install it for them.  The result is what you see in this picture—hoses going every which way and creating an eyesore.

    Hoses, hoses, hoses.

    Hoses, hoses, hoses.

  • Newer apartment buildings have addressed this problem, often building-in a set location for A/C.  The white pipe running down the wall leads out of the A/C location, which is an improvement—now the condensed water will be guided away from the building and not just allowed to drip down wherever (like on our building).   Too bad the pipe is white but whatever.

    Right: Building Left: Close-up of lovely white pipe

    Right: Building Left: Close-up of lovely white pipe

  • Maintenance seems like an unknown concept, particularly of buildings.  Instead of regularly inspecting and repairing things as anticipated, things are simply allowed to take their course and repairs will be made only as necessary.  At that point, someone—probably some guy who is handy with a screw driver and duct tape—will be called to ‘fix’ the problem.  Attention to detail or aesthetics are not required. In some places– in Shanghai, Jiaxing, in villages we have seen on our travels– we have seen traditional brick houses that are disintegrating.  It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that a roof could be removed and replaced.    Instead, a variety of make-do materials are applied—a sheet of corrugated iron or a tarp held down by bricks—which will last until the whole thing collapses. Probably it is a question of finances, but it seems sad.
  • When repairs are made and paint touched up, if the colour of the new paint is roughly in the same family, it is good enough.

    Good match - uh NO!

    Good match – uh NO!

  • Some things just aren’t important in China.   Our friends, Rob and Shelley, recently moved into a very nice apartment complex in Shanghai.  They had a satellite dish installed:  the dish sits on a ledge on the deck and the wiring hangs like a clothesline across the right angle to an outside wall where they drilled a hole close to the window frame and pulled it through.  Have the neighbours complained?  Has the president of the strata council called?  No and no.  The only concern that was raised was when the window washer needed it moved a bit so he didn’t get tangled up in it as he hung suspended from a rope with a board at the end of it, anchored on the roof of the apartment. (Ed. note: Rob even asked the installer to drill the hole through the first window and closer to the patio and then run the wire off a splitter inside and along the baseboard to the further room. Sensible, right? Apparently not. The installer just looked at him and then did it this way.)

    Wiring? No problem!

    Wiring? No problem!

Deficiencies certainly breed invention.  Have a look at the repair on this corroding roll-up door.  It is “sewn” together with wire and will last another few or more years.

I don't think this is what my mother meant when she said "A stitch in time"

I don’t think this is what my mother meant when she said “A stitch in time”

Nothing really has to be done well or right and certainly doesn’t have to be pretty, which leaves China always appearing a bit shabby.  With 1.4 billion to feed, there are bigger things to worry about.

Tibet: Land of Peaceful Liberation – Part 4

Good morning, afternoon, evening. We have made a little Smilebox of some of the photos which did make the blog and some that didn’t. It is accompanied by a little Tibetan music: Yadong – Pray. For your information, when you are looking at slides 10 through 49 (numbered in bottom right), those were all taken on the same day. The changes in the sky were truly amazing, unbelievable, awesome – you choose the adjective. The “show” takes about 5 minutes. We hope you enjoy it.

(Ed. note: I made a few small errors (Stupa not Stuba, “pointy” should have been deleted and ??) , but given that it takes about an hour for me to upload it to the internet, you are just going to have to deal with it. When you are finished watching, just close the page.)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Tibet: Land of Peaceful Liberation – Part Three

We returned to Lhasa the same way we had come. The other way was much controlled by the police apparently and although it is shorter, it takes longer due to frequent police stops.  After a brief attempt at getting our hotel management to guarantee that we would have a hot shower in the morning, a room suddenly became available at the Shambhala Palace to which we were moved.

If nothing else, our room was very colourful.

If nothing else, our room was very colourful.

Big is not necessarily comfortable, unless you put two three inch sleeping pads under you. Thank goodness Terry didn't have to get up what with all the trinkets on the strings making an orchestral sound as they hit each other.

Big is not necessarily comfortable, unless you put two three inch sleeping pads under you. Thank goodness Terry didn’t have to get up what with all the trinkets on the strings making an orchestral sound as they hit each other. Terry was also quite attracted to the tiger carpet – really.

We got back in time to have a wander around the market and then went to Dunya for dinner, where Terry had a wonderful chicken and homemade Tibetan egg noodle soup and Geoff had yak steak with gravy and fries. The best part of the meal, though, was the fried spinach and mushrooms with vinegar, garlic and sesame seeds. It was OUTSTANDING!

Best vegetable I have ever eaten!

Best vegetable I have ever eaten! By the way, take a good luck at the hair – it is longer than it is going to be for awhile.

(Ed. Note: On the way back from dinner, I decided it was time for a hair cut, so we stopped in at this salon.

They couldn't do my hair quite like one of the photos, so we went another way.

They couldn’t do my hair quite like one of the photos, so we went another way. I was looking at the bowtie look.

We brought in lots of visitors. The woman doing the first cut also did the washing (below). She then moved through the heavy stuff with what could be termed reckless abandon. Terry was getting concerned but I assured her that was normal since it is always quite thick. Don’t know what the kid’s role was, except to supervise. Then a second woman came in (the one with her back to me) – I guess she was the professional and the other the apprentice. Anyway, she did a good job, but then I said I wanted just a little more off. Apparently Lhasa stylists don’t have the same number of razor heads as they do back home. Terry was pretty much apoplectic with her new bald husband. However, as I always say, the difference between a good cut and a bad cut is just two weeks, although it may take a little longer this time).

it was a group effort.

It was a group effort.

(Ed. Note #2: I know – you want a picture – you will just have to wait. Cost: $2.50 which is likely $2.25 more than what it cost my father in Canada the last time it was this short.)

The room is larger and nicer but the shower still only warmish, after running only hot for 5 minutes but at least tolerable instead of cold.  We were exhausted, both from the “thin air” and also from incomplete sleeps on nights on the train, and we slept well for the first time since arriving.  We had originally planned to drive on this day to another beautiful lake some miles away but decided against it, which turned out to be a good decision.  Jamyiang’s friend, another guide, phoned him while we were out to say that they were stopped on the mountain pass due to snow and within a few hours, had had to return to Lhasa.  Meanwhile, we visited the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace.

Very scary dog guarding the summer palace.

Very scary guy (and friend) guarding the summer palace.

We were told that the story may be real or myth or somewhere in between but it goes like this:  when the Chinese arrived to take the Dalai Lama, they and all of Tibet believed that he was in the Potala Palace.  Soldiers surrounded it and two bombs were blasted towards it.  Smoke completed obscured the building and Tibetans fell down in the streets, screaming and crying for the loss of their beloved leader and the holy palace.  Three hours later, the smoke cleared and the palace remained.  It was only a week later that it was revealed that the Dalai Lama had not been in the palace at all, but was instead at the Summer Palace.  According to this story, he escaped Tibet dressed as a soldier of the Chinese army.

The Dalai Lama's Summer Palace - Unbelievable Experience.

The Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace – An Unbelievable Experience.

The Summer Palace is a peaceful place, full of gardens and trees and remarkable history inside the buildings.  On one wall, the entire history of Tibet, starting with the first god, his descendants (a monkey is involved) and the creation of heaven and hell are illustrated and described in Tibetan script.  In other rooms, newer history is written and even Chairman Mao is pictured in an earlier age, in happier times.  There is a throne room where some say the Dalai Lama sat and some say no, he was gone before it was complete.  Nonetheless, it is impressive and feels very spiritual and peaceful to be there. Due to political reasons, there is only one painting of the 14th and present Dalai Lama and it is in the room where the Dalai Lama’s throne is.

There are approximately 200 nuns in this nunnery where they spend most of their time chanting.

There are approximately 200 nuns in this nunnery where they spend most of their time chanting.

Next we were able to visit a nunnery, where pictures are allowed.  Geoff’s video may give an idea of the chanting that they perform for hours at a stretch.  I was happy to go into a tiny room and see a nun reading a holy book.  We had seen many of these in monasteries and temples, tucked away in drawer-like boxes, so I was curious to know what they actually looked like–see the attached picture.

If not chanting they spend a lot of time reading their old scripts.

If not chanting they spend a lot of time reading their old scripts.

Finally, we had sweet tea, a necessity to daily life in Tibet, prepared and served in the nun’s tea house.

The tea house is the oldest and most popular in Lhasa. It is run by the nuns. These two young ladies were visiting from Beijing for an extended period of time.

The tea house is the oldest and most popular in Lhasa. These two young ladies (Yi Yuan Kun and Sun Yi Jiao) were visiting from Beijing for an extended period of time.

So our trip is coming to a close.  We left Jamyiang and walked in and out of busy lanes and markets, bargaining for a few last souvenirs and catching final glimpses of daily Tibetan life.  In a few minutes, we will head out for our last meal in Lhasa, then return home to rest and prepare to depart in the morning.  It has been a fantastic journey, one that has been beyond amazing.  We are privileged to be here and to have seen this remarkable place and its people.

(Ed. note: I am sorry to those who wait with baited breath for the shoe photo. It had been put on hold for the trip, since the Tibetans aren’t really into foot destroying attire. However, upon our return and my trip to the grocery store today, I saw these and, what can I say? Here they are – even if they are a tad small for her.)

Pink!

Tibet: Land of Peaceful Liberation – Part Two

This view of Turquoise Lake pales in comparison to reality.

This view of Turquoise Lake pales in comparison to reality. This a photo taken by Terry – not a purchased postcard.

The next day we set off by car with guide and driver to Gygantze, a town some 253 km away, but what a journey!  We leave Lhasa and climb through two mountain passes, one a mere 161 meters lower than Mount Everest base camp.  The road is paved and “reasonably” good but narrow.  The sides are buffered with heavy cement barriers–if you go off the edge, it’s a long way down.  Not that this puts off the drivers who honk and pass with impunity.

Even for the traffic scenes we we have witnessed since coming, this was something.

Even for the traffic scenes we we have witnessed since coming, this was something.

What a scene!  With the incredible backdrop of lake and mountains, an amazing assortment of human activities unfold.  First, eschewing the actual parking lot, are great numbers of tourists who park on the shred of shoulder and leave their vehicles.  The predictable mayhem results, with cars and trucks unable to pass, honking honking honking, until finally someone takes charge and breaks up the log jam.  Around the parking lot, vendors take advantage of the location to flog trinkets and charge for pictures to be taken holding their filthy lamb or posing beside their very sad looking Tibetan mastiffs.  Still others offer the opportunity to take pictures posing with a yak or, better still, posing on a yak.  Whoever would want to do that?

Elephant, Water Buffalo and now Yak - what's left for me to ride?

Elephant, Water Buffalo and now Yak – what’s left for me to ride?

Imagine living and farming on the edge of this. No wonder they believe as they do.

I didn't realize how popular Geoff was until we came to China. I am actually quit jealous of all of his new friends.

I didn’t realize how popular Geoff was until we came to China. I am actually quit jealous of all of his new friends.

In spite of the human circus, it is hard to leave the beauty of the holy lake, but onward we go.

We pass through many small villages and several times have to stop while shepherds drive their flocks from the road.

What are they?

What are they?

A flock of sheep and their shepherds, that's what. Tough for the sheep to find much to eat, I think.

A flock of sheep and their shepherds, that’s what. Tough for the sheep to find much to eat, I think.

We see bricks drying in the sun and know that they will become a new home or an addition to a present one.  Between villages, we see nomads and villagers walking the hills, collecting yak dung to be dried for winter fuel.

Imagine - you have to go out and wander wherever the yaks may have wandered on the mountains and pick up the dried dung you find so that you can survive the winter. They wanderers are in the circle - sorry but we were driving.

Imagine – you have to go out and wander wherever the yaks may have wandered on the mountains and pick up the dried dung you find so that you can survive the winter. They wanderers are in the circle – sorry but we were driving.

Later we see the dung stacked on fences, on rooftops, in piles; sometimes it is stuck on side of buildings to better catch the sun and add to insulation.  We watch farmers turning the soil with hoes or horse-drawn plows and others in court yards throwing sheaves of grain in the air with pitch forks, separating the wheat (or barley) from the chaff.  A very few have smallish tractors.  These are subsistence farmers, we think, managing to grow enough for their families and with perhaps a little more to sell or trade in the villages.  To see these sites is to understand our own history.  Geoff and I both come from families of farmers; both our grandparents were immigrants who homesteaded on the prairies.  We know about this hard work but it is something again to see these people working in ways that the western world has left behind.

These shepherds spend all day with the flocks of sheep or yaks or cattle.

The shepherds spend all day with the flocks of sheep or yaks or cattle.

We wonder how drastically their lives will be changed in the next year as “China’s Tibet” becomes modernized, and how they will cope.

Kharolla Glacier. This was a spectacular sight. I know we use that word a lot, but it really is the only one that works.

Kharolla Glacier.
This was a spectacular sight, which is not done justice in the photo. I know we use that word a lot, but it really is the only one that works.

(Ed. Note: We also go through the Kharolla Pass – 5039 metres high, 161 metres lower than the Everest Base Camp. Here Terry got some altitude sickness and was quite woozy. However, she managed to get a photo of these three Tibetan women. The first one wanted 10 rmb and then the second also wanted 10 rmb. When the third saw what was going on she rushed over as well – but only got 9rmb was exchanged with the hard hearted, woozy headed Terry – actually that was all she had left.)

Tibetan woman at work - modelling for money. Not much different than Kate Upton, really.

Tibetan woman at work – modelling for money. Not much different than Kate Upton, really.

We stopped above the Mola Dam. I don’t know the name of the river, but when it was dammed, it eliminated a number of small villages and homes. In the photo below, you can just kind of make out a house that was at the top of the hill (it is an island now). It provides a great deal of electricity and is spectacular, but like all progress came with a cost.

These are the two wings of the "Y" which leads off to the right and the dam.

Running from bottom to top of the picture are the two wings of the “Y” which leads off to the right and the dam.

The washroom Terry used was not as spectacular.

No comments for those with sensitive constitutions.

No comments for those with sensitive constitutions.

In Gygantze, we visit a monastery and 9-story stupa, a place like a tomb but without bodies, only statues to honour famous Buddhas and their teachers.

The largest Stupa in Tibet. (Known in the west as a pagoda.)

The largest Stupa in Tibet. (Known in the west as a pagoda.)

In Tibet, only the Dalai Lamas and their teachers are actually entombed.  When every one else dies, they are given a sky burial.  Prepare yourself for a description.  In every village or city, there is a man or several men who are able to perform this ritual.  A body is kept in the family home for 3 days since the Tibetans believe that the body and soul are one but that they separate after death, which takes 3 days to be complete.  Next the body is taken up into the hills and mountains to one of many holy sites where it is dismembered, cut into pieces and left to hundreds of eagles which dwell there.  There are two reasons behind the ritual:  the first is that the eagles will lift the body up into the heavens; the second is that it leaves nothing of a mortal being on earth so that the soul can more easily ascend into the next world.  Even the bones are broken and covered with barley flour so the eagles carry even the smallest morsels away.  Up until 2010, foreigners were allowed to witness the sky burials but  no longer.  Just as well, probably. (Ed note: if you are interested there is a Youtube video of one – it is a 2:31 slide show which is not terribly graphic but illustrates what happens).

Thermoses full of yak butter - everywhere you go near a temple.

Thermoses full of yak butter – everywhere you go near a temple.

(Ed. Note: While we were in Tibet we saw hundreds of people carrying thermoses and containers around. They take yak butter to the temples and offer it to the Buddhas to help divine their way to heaven.

Perhaps the highlight of our entire Tibet experience was our interaction with these ladies outside the monastery. Apparently they just sit there all day chatting and having tea. I asked if I could take their photo and offered them 100 rmb – way too much but they were just so delightful. The lady on the right kept saying too much, but we just told them (through Jamyiang) to share it. Then they wanted to see the pictures (well not so much the one on the left – she was a bit sour.). Now comes the most interesting thing. We asked their ages. The one on the left is 57 – 2 years younger than Terry; the one in the centre is 75 and the one on the right is 72. If this isn’t an indication of the incredibly hard life these people live, I don’t know what is.)

Paaarrrtttyyyyy!!

Paaarrrtttyyyyy!!

"Hey, I think I look pretty good for my age" says the lady on the right. "Really?" says the one on the left.

“Hey, I think I look pretty good for my age” says the lady on the right. “Really?” says the one on the left.

After one night in Gygantze, but before we headed back we watched Gyantze start to wake up. These photos were taken at 8:30 am as we waited for a mug of honey ginger tea to be prepared to go. Now remember, this is the main street of town.

Fresh lamb for dinner tonight. (and I mean FRESH!)

Fresh lamb for dinner tonight. (and I mean FRESH!)

Do you think they know where they are going? Times change - herding cows down the street, while a 3 wheeled cart and a new Buick are parked at the side.

Do you think they know where they are going? Times change – herding cows down the street, while a 3 wheeled cart and a new Buick come the other way.

Gyantze's Peaceful Liberation Monument and Plaza

And finally, Gyantze’s Peaceful Liberation Monument and Plaza

 

Tibet: Land of Peaceful Liberation – Part One

(Ed. note: before beginning, if I offended anyone’s sensibilities with my description of the lavatory experiences on the train, please forgive me. Terry has kindly offered to proofread my contributions in the future, before publishing.)

Jamyiang says hi.

Jamyiang says hi.

Amazing.  We are in our room at 5:00pm, totally exhausted from our day, the last day we will have here in Lhasa before we fly home tomorrow.  What have we seen?  An amazing assortment of things, fascinating in every way.  To recap, we were met by our guide, Jiamyang and our driver, Basan who took us to the Shambala Palace where we had booked a room last May.  We chose the Palace because it is traditional, not modern and decorated in wonderful Tibetan fashion.  However, no reservation, no room.  Not to worry, we can put you in the House of Shambhala, our annex.  Off we go, Geoff on motorcycle with our bags and I on foot with Jiamyang.  Our room is obviously for overflow guests–we have to climb a ladder to the roof then take another one down the other side to our abode for the evening.  They promise to have a better room tomorrow.  We don’t care, we are in Tibet, tired but looking forward to the adventure that awaits us.

Up one flight just like these, across the roof, then down these. Thank goodness it wasn't pouring rain until the next morning when we went for breakfast!

Up one flight just like these, across the roof, then down these. Thank goodness it wasn’t pouring rain until the next morning when we went for breakfast!

These are the four protectors one finds either as statues or paintings at the entrance to each Buddhist temple.

These are the four protectors one finds either as statues or paintings at the entrance to each Buddhist temple.

Our first site is the Potala Palace, the home of government and former home of the Dalai Lama.  We are allowed in only some rooms but get the sense of the place and understand that it is holy for Tibetans.  (Ed. note: There are over 2000 rooms in the palace but they are the living and working quarters of police, fire and bureaucrats, not open to the public.)

The white, which was obviously the first part built (during one Dalai Lama's lifetime) is now the offices and closed to the public. The red is the remaining portion which is open to the public and dedicated to the Buddhist religion.

The white, which was obviously the first part built (during ONE particular Dalai Lama’s lifetime) is now the offices and closed to the public. The red is the remaining portion which is open to the public and dedicated to the Buddhist religion.

After the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, the Chinese government graciously built Plazas in many cities and towns across Tibet, I understand. This one is directly across Beijing Road from the Potala Palace.

After the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, the Chinese government graciously built Peaceful Liberation Plazas in many cities and towns across Tibet, I understand. This one is directly across Beijing Road from the Potala Palace.

Hundreds if not thousands of pilgrims circle the Palace daily. Next, we visited Jokhang Temple, where a line of chanting pilgrims also circles the Temple daily, twirling prayer wheels or prostrating themselves every few yards to cleanse their souls.  There is  a path built into the main sidewalk that follows the pilgrims as they circle this temple, so it is easy to walk with them and observe without getting lost.  Outside the temple but under cover the floor space is at a premium with so many people prostrating themselves over and over again.  Jamyiang explained the process to us today but neither of us have knees that would allow us to do what the Tibetans do many, many times.

Terry on the roof of Jokhang Temple overlooking Lhasa with the Potala Palace in the background.

Terry on the roof of Jokhang Temple with the Potala Palace in the background.

The heart of the Barkhor district is full of tourist market stalls, antique shops and daily services for locals.

There appears to have been a language issue develop at sometime. As you walk past each stall, the vendor says to you "Just Looking" meaning come in and look. This woman wouldn't let us go until I bought something - and if she is to be believed, I was her first paying customer of the day - at about 2:30. Given how many stalls there are, I tend to believe her. I bought a small amulet with the first mantra symol on it for 15rmb - $2.50. Solid silver, of course!

There appears to have been a language issue develop at sometime. As you walk past each stall, the vendor says to you “Just Looking” meaning come in and look.

(Ed. note: This woman wouldn’t let us go until I bought something – and if she is to be believed, I was her first paying customer of the day – at about 2:30. Given how many stalls there are, I tend to believe her. I bought a small amulet with the first mantra sybmol on it for 15rmb – $2.50. Solid silver, of course! Look at the beads etc. in the background and imagine this. The street market is about six blocks long, there are up to 4 rows of these stalls across the “pedestrian mall” and they all sell variations on about 6 themes – beads, scarves, embroidered bags, various clothing items made out of yak or sheep material, prayer flags and hanging religious symbols. I have no idea where this stuff winds up but you see many of the vendors continuing to make it as they sit there, depending on what they are selling.)

We see whole carcasses of yak and sheep on display, shops devoted to yak butter and prayer rugs, tiny grocery shops and cafes.

The Tibetans use every part of the yak - right down to the hair on the hooves. It can feed a family for an entire month. Delivered to the store via cart, truck or scooter.

The Tibetans use every part of the yak – right down to the hair on the hooves. It can feed a family for an entire month. Delivered to the store via cart, truck or scooter.

This is just another butcher shop on the block. There were three or four right next to each other. Choose your meat and the butcher cuts it up for you, just the way you like it!

This is just another butcher shop on the block. There were three or four right next to each other. Choose your meat and the butcher cuts it up for you, just the way you like it – or take the whole side.

Our guided tour for the day over, we head to the roof-top patio of of the New Mandala Restaurant where we have a few cold Lhasa beers, yak meat momos (dumplings), vegetable pakoras and spicy papadams, and watch the people down below.  It is a colourful parade of Tibetans in traditional dress next to many Chinese tourists and only a few Caucasians.  We also notice that the Chinese government has generously provided almost all businesses with the National Flag to fly and thus show their support for them.

Strangely, unlike Jiaxing and even Shanghai, almost all businesses in Lhasa display a Chinese flag.

Strangely, unlike Jiaxing and even Shanghai, almost all businesses in Lhasa display the Chinese flag.

We have some minor difficulty adjusting to the higher altitude and so head home early and crash.