A Lhasa Love Affair

From Shegar, we crossed Gyatso Pass which is by far the highest pass in our journey; standing at 5,200 meters from sea level. Then we camped out at Tibet’s second largest town Shigatze for a night,; next we drove 90km to a yak infested pastoral town call Gyantse and finally on the sixth day, we drove an ass whooping 280km southwest via Karola pass (5,010m) and Kambala Pass(4,794m) to reach the culmination of our road trip - Lhasa.

Lhasa in Tibetan tongue means “place of the gods”, at first glance doesn’t seem too holy or heavenly to me. Maybe I was at the notion that it should look and feel more medieval and sacred like what movies used to portray it to be. As I retrieve the mental picture of what I always picture Tibet to be and compare it to this, this looks more like a city that has been slowly eaten up and desecrated by modern technology. Cars in the streets, monks with hand-held devices, teenagers with “My Chemical Romance” t-shirts on; it just doesn’t gave out the Tibetan vibe. But who are we to deprive the locals of the advancement of this age? Maybe this is just the first impression; it would probably take some time before Lhasa get on to me. But for all that is worth, the 6 day drive here was still worth it and what better way to celebrate our triumph than to party with some locals who likes to drink. Seriously, the last two days here has been nothing but a drink and get drunk affair and that was how I fell in love with Chang.

The first time I did Chang was on the first night I reached Lhasa. I was still trying to adjust to the climate of these high places; I was cold and quickly turning into a human Popsicle. Then Chang came along and showed me that there is nothing to fear about the cold of the night, not when you are with her. We were two lovers making love to each other to keep each other warm until the break of day. From that day onwards, I did Chang every night even day. In fact all of us did Chang and we did her all day and all night.

Who would have thought that it only takes barley, yeast, pottery jar and some fermentation time to create a sweet, sour and most importantly alcoholic drink that could satisfy people like us? It sure ain’t the best but it sure hell gets the work done. We were even taught how guest should drink this alcoholic beverage. You see when the host passes the guest a glass filled with Chang; the guest should accept it with both hands. Then rise the glass with the right hand and use the middle finger of the left hand to dip in the glass and then flick some Chang into the air. Then the guest takes a gulp and the host will fill the glass again, guest take another gulp and the host fills the glass again and this is repeated until the fourth time the glass have been filled, the guest should drained down everything in the single breath. I am not sure what does this represents or maybe it could just very well be a Tibetan drinking game but either way, I am happy that we found Chang. I think we drank so much that we must have dried up a lake. It’ll probably take weeks for me to sober up.

It’s been 2 days since my road trip to Lhasa has ended. My traveling companions and I have parted ways; I am all alone again here in the city of Lhasa and I am left to my own devices to determine what is next for me. I am standing on a crossroad now, should I head home or continue on my little rampage across the globe. If so where? I set out to find my very own edge of the world but seriously, I really do not know where to start. Have I been running to all the wrong places? Or am I just running in circles and going nowhere?

And in the words of the hair god Jon Bon Jovi: “I don’t know where I am going; only God knows where I have been.”

I think I should continue to travel wherever my boots will lead.