I will fill you more in on my trip later (I’m in Xining, the capital of Qinghai, the province just a touch north of Tibet), when I have more time and a better computer, but I couldn’t hold back the bragging on this tidbit.
Today, me and my pengyou/RA Signe went to see the Dalai Lama’s birthplace (after a host of other pleasant adventures. Again, later!). What, you mean the 14th Dalai Lama, the one that the Chinese government hates so much and spends a good deal of time yelling about and rallying against, you might ask!? Yes. That one. Where he was born. I’ve attached a picture of the view from his front door, and you have to say, maybe it explains a bit about who he is. I have also attached a picture of a cool flag thing that was in the middle of his courtyard.
What, a flag!? Nothing more interesting than a flag!? you might also ask. This is because we got kicked out! I mean, granted, we came right in the smackdab middle of oh-there-were-just-a-few-minor-(read, big)-protests-throughout-Tibet-a-few-years-ago anniversary, and also during the hardly-a-week-goes-by-without-another-monk-setting-themselves-on-fire times. Anyways, we hired this cab out for the whooooooooooole day (we went somewhere else before) and he didn’t care and just took us out there (I mean, he wanted our money, not for us to say well if we can’t see it we don’t want to pay you 30 bucks to take us there). And the front door was wide open, and we just mozied on in, and looked around a bit, snapped a few pictures, and then the guy running the place noticed us and freaked out. And then started scurrying us out way promptly, and had a larger friend actually follow us all the way out, and then start honking our taxi’s horn (the cabbie had ran to the restroom) so that he’d come out and take us away from the place. We didn’t really want to push so we didn’t try to see what else was there, because either they were government-y (I don’t think so) and probably had some more force they could use, or because they politely ran the place and would get in huuuuuuuuuuuuge trouble if people found out (and I’m guessing there were cameras) that some foreigners had showed up.
So yeah! I did that today! If I ever meet the man I’ll be sure to share the story.