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ToraTravels: 7 Days in Tibet

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After a drunk New Year's Eve in Guiyang, which ended in a fellow Eoffer's bed, my next stop is Chongqing, yet another megacity you've never heard of. I've been told that the girls are hot.

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What I found instead was another smoggy, grey industrial mass with Chinese people scurrying around with huge bags on their backs. The city was built on a very hilly landscape and roads are sparse, which means the workers have to go up and down from the docks on the Yantze river loading goods on and off the boats. It's a busy town, but there's nothing exciting going on.

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There are 9 billion people in China. Go figure.

People just live, eat and work here, as in most cities in this country. Chongqing has the longest monorail line in the world. All I see during the ride are apartment blocks upon apartment blocks and they’re all grey. The food is pretty decent. It’s basic Sichuan cuisine, which means a lot of spicyness and numbing peppercorn. No fried noodles to be found here, just soup noodles. Still good, especially when you’re struck with a cold after weeks of travelling.

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Big ass bridge over the Yangtze river.

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Yep that's pretty much it. Did I mention there's smog?

After an awful drunk night in Chengdu, hometown of pandas, I leave for the western part of Sichuan province, hoping for a change from the usual Chinatown copy-paste jobs. The road and the old smelly bus make for a bumpy ride, but because the bus is half empty I just crash down on the seats in the back. This mountainous province is remote but industrialism is catching up, evidently in the torn-open mountainsides for mining operations and the polluted rivers. Electricity stations and poles are being built all over the place. My guess is that the natives ain’t too happy about this progress imposed by the Chinese government in their hunger for GDP growth through construction.

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They put a bit more effort into making things look nice than the Chinese.

It's a six hour bus drive to the first stop, Kangding, the county capital at about 3000m altitude. It's mostly still Chinese and you can tell the buildings have been built fairly recently. There's no warm water in the guest house because all the pipes are frozen. This is a pretty common thing in the region. Who the hell wants to undress for a shower in this freezing cold anyway. Since there's no heating, I go to sleep wearing the same clothes I walk around in all day (which is pretty much all the clothes I have with me).

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Livin' on a prayer. Probably praying for the Chinese government to smurf off and stop making everything trout.

Although the area around the town had some nice things to see (allegedly) I decide it's time to push on to the next town, Tagong. It's very small, consisting of two streets and two temples. Speaking of temples, they're all over the region. This is a very Buddhist area. A lot of the mountain feature Buddhist imagery. Along the sides of the roads, people are painting rocks with Tibetan symbols. Like everyone single rock. On the road, people are kneeling down and praying as they walk. Even the monks are using smartphones and most guesthouses have wifi, so despite the primitive look of the region they’re not that far behind modern technology.

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Bet Brad Pitt didn't show you this.

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4000m above sea level.

The towns have a heavy police presence and there's a People's Liberation Army base near every one of them. The Chinese government is really scared of any insurgencies happening here. Officially there's a ban on pictures of the Dalai Lama, but the Tibetans don't give a smurf and have one hanging in every car, shop and temple. They're pretty chill people, way different than the Chinese. The guys have long flowing mullets and the girls are very cute.

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A colorful bunch.

Unlike the Chinese, they also have no problem understanding body language and basic signs. When I'm looking for the sky burial grounds in Litang, I make a flapping motion with my arms while going "kraa, kraa!". The Tibetans don't just bury their dead, they put them on a sacred mountainside and have the vultures eat them. In the end I don’t find the sky burial site because it’s time to take the next bus towards the south. Guess I could’ve stayed longer, but I’m in a rush to get to Laos.

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I think the prayer flags are supposed to mark the location of sky burial sites. Or something.

The mountains here are smurfing huge. Guess they call it the ‘roof of the world’ for a reason. Some go up to 6000-7000m. Other than that, I have no idea why this region is so hyped among white people (not that I found any here). Most temples look kinda the same. The people like to walk circles around them. The food is nothing special. Yak meat tastes just like beef, and yak butter is basically more goaty-tasting goat milk. I guess it would be pretty cool to climb one of them huge-ass mountains sometime.

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As I said, they're a colorful bunch.

Overal impression: cooler than the rest of China. Would be nice to come back and climb one of them mountains. Hope they can be free from the PRC.

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  1. Shaibana's Avatar
    nice!! Brad pitt did not show that, no