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China, Tibet and Total solar eclipse

Added: August 02, 2009

Tags: China info photos
Last week we have returned from our 3 weeks long vacation in China. It was amazing holidays. It was our first vacation with a tour operator. We decided to use tour operator because it is not easy for individuals to get to Tibet. Visa are hard to get and going out of Lhasa needs "paperwork" too. Not to mention it is very hard to read Chinese for us ;-) , "nobody" speaks English and it is not possible to book train tickets online (tickets can be bought 2 days ahead and that does not suit my life style well).

We were bit unsure how it will be with operator, because we prefer to travel alone, but I have to say Explore outdid all our expectations. It seems Explore is oriented to customers similar to us (just older). And our tour leader Rich made our experience even better. He was fantastic. He worked hard to satisfy everybody (that is very hard in my point of view) and he succeeded. He helped Zuzka in restaurants to get meals suiting her allergy and he stopped bus any time he heard me taking pictures frantically (yes, I started to take photos through windows of bus, which is... not very satisfying).

I have taken unbelievable number of photos, all our colleagues were shocked or amused after learning how many I have made. But many of them were just repeating existing photo just in case previous one was not good (remember - many of them were taken in bus or train (Rich could not stop train for me unfortunately)). So total number of independent compositions is much smaller...

I am in the middle of processing them now and it will take some time before I am done, but I am able to publish about a few days from beginning. So stay close to Internet :-)


(not necessarily in this order)

  • Fantastic food - we usually had ordered 10-12 different dishes and shared so we could taste many different ones
  • A walk around Ganden Monastery (Kora)
  • Yak butter sculptures in Labrang Monastery
  • Local people in Lhasa
  • Butter tea (Tibetan tea - tea, salt, yak butter) - it is not the worst thing in the world as people say, it is different than usual tea, but definitelly not bad. I have tested it thoroughly
  • Western style toilets in hotels :-)
  • Jasmine tea


What I did not try and I do not regret it

  • Chinese toilet
  • Taking photos of police and army in Lhasa and Xiahe (strictly prohibited)
  • Thinking about my work




What could have been better

  • Weather during solar eclipse - it completely failed my expectations (well, Zuzka still thinks that we were lucky we could see partial eclipse through the clouds, but she does not understand it)
  • Weather at Bingling Si - those amazing mountains deserved blue sky
  • More time for whole trip, ideally 2 months :-)
  • My will to clean the sensor of camera before we went. Now I know I should have done it.