Stefanie's Travel Journal
Today was relaxing and very nice. In the morning we went to Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse (home of the Panchen Lama .. see yesterday's journal entry). The monastery was beautiful and we saw the largest gilded statue in the world, a 26 meter high gilded Budda with over 300kg of gold on it. It was built around 1914 and still looks beautiful and impressive. I ducked out of the monastery a little early (we've seen a lot of monasteries now...) and went back to the carpet factory I mentioned yesterday. I had heard they would do special orders so I asked if they could make the pattern I liked but with different colors and they said yes! I had so much fun sitting on the floor with the staff (they are so nice and helpful even yesterday when I was only looking) and some of my group who wondered by picking out colors to replace those in the sample. My carpet should arrive in about 2 months and I'm very excited! Hopefully it looks good - if not I will have only myself to blame =) And I was very happy to support such a good business. If anyone wants their email address I have it. Then our group bought some food and headed out of town. We stopped about 30 minutes down the road for a picnic. This isn't part of the normal tour but our group thought it would be fun and our guides and drivers obliged (they like our group - said its the happiest, most fun group they had all year - I can't take any credit , its all the Aussies =) ). We were sitting along the Friendship Highway (the largest freeway in Tibet) and we had a beautiful peaceful picnic. The Aussie's brought Vegemite along and our guides and drivers were about as fond of that as we are of yak butter tea (but I have to agree with the guides and drivers on this one - have you had Vegemite? ugh!) We finished our picnic just as it started to rain and we hit the road again. We stopped at the top of the second and last pass we had to go through today (about 5000 meters high) and talked with the kid who lives in a tent (with his dad and grandfather I think) and sells prayer flags and prayer papers (loongda) that people put up for wishes and prayers at the pass. He was a fun kid and we had a good time with him. I'll post photos from here later. About 4:00 we pulled into Lhatse. Our hotel is finally the rugged hotel we were expecting all along but still perfectly fine. We'll be sponge bathing instead of showers tonight and in the morning and I think I'll break out my sleeping liner for the first time but its perfectly fine. And tomorrow we go to Everest!! We're all so excited. We'll get up very early and drive about 7 hours to Ronghpu Monastery. If the weather is ok we'll hike to Base Camp in the afternoon because the views are supposed to be better then. If the weather isn't good or we get there too late we'll hike in the morning. Either way we'll spend one night at the monastery and then head toward the border on Monday. I'll tell you all about it from Nepal!