Blessed to be a witness

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Friday, March 25th

Just a phone, we always keep around you

Thankfully the crappy hotel hadn't prevented us from visiting the cheerful and hardy monks at Rongbuk monastery, who were a right laugh, herding their yak and pretending to beat me up. A little old nun led us into the two chapels, and we wandered around the place, which was absolutely tiny, but charming.

Sleep was difficult to come by at 5,000 metres. All of us reported drifting off to sleep for a few seconds before awaking in a panic and gasping for breath. The next morning the clouds had come down to cloak the mountain, and M and the Canadians weren't feeling too good, and there was no real reason to remain. We hailed the van, and descended to meet Gyatso and the Land Cruiser at the bottom. We returned over the two passes to Shegar for another lovely lunch in a charming little Tibetan restaurant, and made it back to Lhatse in good time.

Spent another pleasant if cold night at the Tibetan Farmers' Adventure Hotel, playing with the cute, dirty little kids. This is another place with the unwired lighting consoles and TVs. I'm wondering if it's a governmental requirement - all hotels in China must have these things, but it doesn't matter if they work at all. That would be quite typical of the Chinese government. Hardware/software and all that.

The next day to Shigatse was uneventful, breaching only one pass, albeit unbearably bumpy again, taking a big toll on my lower back. We arrived at the town in good time, and I set off for the Tashilhunpo Monastery, which is my favourite monastery so far in Tibet, and believe me I've seen a few by now. A very relaxed atmosphere, no beggars, lots of happy pilgrims, and some great things to see, including the largest Maitreya Buddha statue in the world, which, at 26 metres is the same height as the Buddha at Po Lin in Hong Kong, except atmospherically housed in a hollowed-out shrine filled with incense, pilgrims, and the smoke of yak-butter lamps.

The Qomolangma Friendship Hotel, in which we stayed in Shigatse, actually had hot showers in the rooms, that started at 6pm. By seven, after having called in maintenance who lifted the sink out of its housing and smacked the pipes around, they were actually working. I had my first wash for four days, and was freaked to see that my head and hands were deeply tanned, while the rest of me was white as an aspirin. Snow and sunburn, that's Tibet. But God it felt good to get warm again, even though the hotel wasn't heated. The room also had a TV with an English-language propaganda channel, which we enjoyed for a while, and the hotel thoughtfully provided a self-descriptive leaflet, which I shall transcribe here for you exactly:

Qomolangma Friendship Hotel

The tourists from either internal or overseas will be satisfied with the service of a series of eating, living traveling, and shopping, and willing to live here without doubt, Shigatse Qomolang ma friendship hotel supports rooms and kinds of rooms more then 30, such as luxurious suites, standard room single bed rooms. three bed rooms economic rooms so on. It could satisfy the tourist who has different requirements in the hotel.

The canteen in the hotel has luxurious and elegant decoration, we also hire especially some famous chefs from sichuan and cuanggong to lock, we believe that it will make you forget the fatigue by a long joarney completely for comfortable enviroent. delicious dishes. warm and thoughtful serices. there is a large dinning room where it can serve to more then 60 people to take meal and contain 4 different style chartered rooms. there are providing services KTV chartered rooms. tea house, business center etc, always the perfect service for you!

"Warm hearted, manners, Thoughtful and speed" is an aim of our services. "Green Environmental protection protection" is our principle of management! Trust us and chose us without hestitation! Just a phone, we always keep around you.

So now you know.

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