A Thangka is a painting of a Buddhist deity or Mandala. The best ones, and most authentic, are painted on fabric or canvas, not paper. There are two different types of Thangka. Ones that are printed on by computer and those that are painted. To tell the difference, just get up close and you can see the horizontal lines of the printer. They can be very good but they are usually stacked up and sold in the local markets. These should not cost more than 50-100rmb.
Unique Suggestions: To find an original and authentic Thangka, look for the stores that you see the artists actually painting them. These can be very expensive, geared toward taking advantage of tourists and wanting to memorialize their experience. I've been quoted prices for an average size thangka where from 12,000rmb to 1800rmb. Even 1800rmb is too much. Also you should not buy thangka that are painted on paper. They will not last as long and not really authentic.
Also, remember that a thangka is a beautiful piece of art and really has no more meaning until it is blessed by a monk or consecrated in a monastery (takes about 2-3 days).
the pictures above are all fakes.
Fun Alternatives: I am working with my guide who has someone outside Lhasa. If I get reasonable prices and authentic work, I will post an alternative.
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Adventure Travel
There are plenty of internet cafes in Lhasa, and we were told about this one literally just around the corner from our hotel. Initially we had trouble finding it, as the signage was not obvious. If we hadn’t known it was there, we would never have found it. Once you walk up to the door, you can see the PCs inside and then it becomes clear.
Many people told us you have to register your presence in the internet café by filling in a form and having a photo copy of your passport taken. They like to keep track of who uses what internet sites I suppose, but we weren’t asked about this. The usage is 1o Yuan per hour. Certain sites, like the BBC, are banned.
The railway bridge in Lhasa has just been completed, and the track should be finished by next May, and open in time for the Beijing Olympics. The arrival of the train in Tibet, will mean much more accessibility, which in turn will mean more tourists. Get there before the train does!
Unique Suggestions: A little about the railway: They said it was impossible to build a railway to Tibet. There were 5,000m-high mountains to climb, 12km-wide valleys to bridge, and temperatures which would reach lows of minus 30C. The 1000km long track will link the town of Golmud in western China and Lhasa. The terrain is so harsh that three workers died for every kilometre of track. The project was started in 1984, and for a long time no-one believed it was possible to cross the mountains into Tibet. It is too bleak, too cold, too high, too oxygen-starved, with impossible rock and ice to bore through. A metre or so below the surface is a layer of permafrost, topped with a layer of ice that melts and refreezes with the seasons. It’s an area plagued by sand storms in summer and blizzards in winter. For five months every winter, work is impossible as temperatures fall below minus 30C. What chance did a railway track have against all that?
The track consists of seven tunnels (the longest of which is 3.3kms) and 286 bridges (the longest being 11.7km). 38,000 workers have toiled on the project. The maximum altitude the track reaches is 5,072m above sea level (higher than Mont Blanc). It will become the world’s highest railway track, some 200m higher in elevation than the Peruvian railway in the Andes.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Many Chinese tourists have their photographs taken against this monument, often by professional photographers who have a collection of traditional Tibetan costumes for you to dress up in. The monument marks the 40 year anniversary of the creation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. I call it the 40 year anniversary of Chinese occupation of Tibet!
- Arts and Culture
Be aware that when booking tickets to Lhasa that you don' t necessarily need a permit. With the airlines it is very difficult to get a ticket without a permit as the agencies want the easy money. But with the trains, it's possible to buy without a permit. In Beijing, I've heard many travellers buying their tickets without permits, and I was able to buy in Cheng Du by asking a local student to buy the ticket for me.
At no time have I been asked to produce a permit.
Fun Alternatives: Ask a local chinese to buy the ticket for you.
In Lhasa you'll see many nutcake sellers around Beijing East Road (Dekyi Shar Lam), all sellers are Ugyhur Muslims and they have beautiful and colorful nutcakes on trolleys. They are notorious in Lhasa, they will first ask you to choose a portion, and ask you again if you want to cut the cake from one position, not too careful most tourists would say yes, then the sellers would cut a big piece and tell you to pay Y50 or more for it, if you refuse to pay the money, they will become very aggressive and will frighten you by their knife.
Unique Suggestions: Never buy from them as they are already quite notorious in Lhasa!
Fun Alternatives: If you really want to taste a bit of it, ask a strong Tibetan man to buy a small piece for you.
- Budget Travel
During our stay in Lhasa, our Tibetan guide suggested that we could go to a folklore show one evening. We asked if it is good and he said 'yes it's very good'. We paid a lot of money for Tibetan standards. Maybe 10$ each. We ended up in a dim lit smelly place. There was a show and you could also have dinner there. It was cattering for the Chinese tourists. It was rather tacky. The music was very loud, the costumes looked fake. Try not to go there.
Most of the news show that "Tibet Toursim will be reopening at May 1st for both Chinese and foreign traveler," but till now we haven't get the exactly notice from the "Tibet Toursim Bureau." We're not sure whether we can help you arragement the Tibet Entry Permit at May 1st or not. You can focus on www.nimatour.com get more Tibet travel news from Lhasa.
The infamous yak! U can ride it, photograph on it or even eat it! The chinese mainlanders love to take a picture riding on it! Quite a sight actually ;-)