Arrived in Beijing from Lhasa tonight. So to finish off some thoughts...
* I had mentioned the dichotomy of China; I got another image (of which I don't have a picture..). An old lady in ragged wool clothes hunched over a cane while spinning a Tibetan prayer wheel, whose face is so wrinkled and sunburned that it can tell a thousand tales, standing in front of a designer store with a featureless mannequin in a perfectly pressed designer polo shirt and pants.
* I purchased some trinkets for people, come and get'em! Really funny was we were negotiating over 10c to 1 USD most of the time. We had walked into a store and the guy offered 10 Yuan and we didn't argue. Walked into another store and the guy asking price was 8 Yuan for the exact same thing. The owner even said he price was cheaper then the guy up the street, sorta felt bad in getting ripped off of 25 cents...
* So my last email was about the politics of Tibet.... This one is about the tourism in Tibet. WAY OVER CROWDED. Which is sorta our fault because we took the route most traveled and it was filled with Chinese, Korean, European and American tourists. I think next time I'm get a backpack and wonder.
* The tourism hasn't been a boon to everyone. We've seen beggars everywhere. Even had one occasion where a child (no more then 5 years old) grab my mom's leg and refused to let go until he got paid; our driver had to shoo him off. So instead of giving away money, we gave away food that we couldn't finish. This included stale fries one day old. These were fries from a fast food restaurant that our guide had picked up from Lhasa for the road because he didn't know what the conditions of the restaurants were gonna be. These were the same fries that I refused to eat because they were stale 4 hours later (and most of you know I'm not a very picky eater...). These same fries were given to a bunch of kids 'guarding' a toilet on the side of the road. They tore into it like manna from heaven.
* Bathrooms, which brings me to a very disgusting subject. On average a Tibetan toilet is worse then the dirtiest (including Nelson Rocks) pit toilet you've ever seen. Our guide joked that you don't need a GPS to find the toilet, just use your nose. It got to the point that the women in our party would rather 'sing a mountain song' ('chang san ge', take a leak in the wild) then use a proper toilet. This was the case all along the highway, we'd see cars and buses stopped for breaks; jokingly we called this Tibet's other natural wonder.
* First couple of days in Lhasa was over cast and rainy. Before we left it cleared up and boy was it beautiful. The stars shown so bright you could almost grab them. A full moon in the early morning was easily visible. Awesome, awesome place.
* So the flight from Lhasa to Beijing was interesting. There was a bunch of French Buddhists sitting front of us. I had heard them speaking French so I asked one of them if they were French (in French 'Vous etes Francais?'). This turned into a three way translation brawl for me. One of them spoke a bit of Chinese and some English, one spoke some English and the rest just French. My parents obviously spoke English and Chinese. The Chinese people around us only spoke Chinese. So I had to translate between English to French (my Parents), French to Chinese (with odd words in English, because I didn't know the Chinese word, which then had to be re-translated into Chinese), Chinese to French.. a very interesting 3-way brawl is what I would call it. I think we managed to understand each other. I also ended up on some one's home video cause one of the Frenchmen took out his camcorder and taped the whole exchanged, must have been interesting to watch.
* My last musing is the blinds in our hotel room. There is a rather large window between the bathroom and rest of the room. There are blinds on the window and it's not on the bathroom side, it's on the hotel room side... not sure about the thinking behind it, but who ever thought of it had either a very sick mind or a interesting sense of humor.
That's it for now... (probably for a while unless something interesting happens tomorrow...) cya!