I suppose it should be noted that this wasn’t a backpacking trip. i was simply a tourist not that in 2005, there is much diference between the two. Anyway, I did very little but relax for the month.
Day Ten-July 9th
We arrived about 8.00am. I thought i Might know my way to the Tibet Hotel but somehow I got lost. Theres a nice new bus station here and its fairly efficient. I took a 5 Yuan taxi instead as it was starting to rain. I booked into a second floor room (shared bathroom) for 40 Yuan. Even though I slept on the bus, you never get off a sleeper bus in China feeling refreshed. No showers until after 6.00pm so I slept until noon. Nice.
I walked to the Feli (prayer Wheel) and its as nice as ever (entrance fee has increased from 2 to 5 Yuan in one year). Invited by some Chinese tourists to help push the large prayer wheel around. Happy to oblige.
I walked into town and got reacquainted with this nice town. Still, lots of construction but surprisingly not in the town but the old Tibetan quarter. They are building and renovating dozens of Tibetan buildings and have even created an old town square. they are putting cobble stones on the pathways and have opened Tibetan style bars, shops etc. I see the town becoming the new Yangshou for backpackers. Experience Tibet and Tibetan culture without having to go to Tibet. Some new hostels and backpacker bars have already opened. There is a lovely laid back atmosphere compared to chinese towns and lots of trekking possibilities. You can easily spent a week relaxing here.
By the way, for the first time I went to a backpacker restaurant for the first time during the trip. It was really nice. A bowl of rice, bowl or ginger/chicken and a plate of steamed vegetables all for 25 Yuan.
I took a bus to the Monastery outside town for 1 Yuan on a local bus (12-15 minutes) and it was nice and quiet. There is a voluntary contribution of 10 Yuan. Big changes here as well, as they are renovating and adding some new structures. Lots of novice monks and students about. I spent about 2 hours here wandering and contemplating (not too heavily). Yeah, thinking of how long I would spend in town and where I would go next. I didn’t plan anything (too busy) before I flew to china so all this is just stress.
I headed back to the old town and walk the old streets until I get to the square. Music is playing from a balcony and its amplified all over the main square. There hundreds of local people are dancing to this squeaking but strangely rymdmic music. A bit like some Irish dances, they go clockwise and then back with extravagant hand movement or move into the circle in a mad mosh and expand outwards again. There are so many people 4-6 circles are required. I speak to a Taiwanese Tourist about his visit for about an hour and he is keen to learn the art of backpacking. He loves the idea of traveling place to place on public buses alone staying in cheap accommodation. He is on a package tour and he is really enjoying it. He says solo travelers are brave, but I assure him we are not. One thing he is correct about as he talks about an Australian he met earlier on his trip, Western backpackers have weak stomachs. It seems she was sick for a full week.
While I am quite lucky (as I am always eating local and street food) and only very rarely get stomach problems, many Western get sick at the slightest smell of non-western food.
Anyway I stayed until about 11.00pm and headed back to the tibet Hotel to have a late shower.