西藏拉萨之旅 Trip to the ‘ Roof of the World’

by shirls on April 3, 2007 · 3 comments in 中国自助游记,自助游记和提示,西藏自助游记

(Dear English readers, please scroll down for the ‘click’ for English translation)

上个星期,心血来潮换了部落的模版设计,Ed也建议我把首页的照片换去宏伟的布达拉宫。这让我想起三年前的西藏之旅。

当时,我和Ed在中国背包旅行。西藏原不在我们的计划内。机缘巧合下,我在中甸(一个靠近西藏边境的小镇)看到一张旅行社的海报。这旅行社专门帮忙自助旅客办入西藏手续。

西藏是我憧憬的地方,可是一直知道中国政府不鼓励旅客入西藏自助旅行,要去一定要参加旅行团。好奇心驱使下,我跟旅行社负责人谈了谈,发问了许多问题。原来,他帮我们办的入境签证是“假装”为拉萨市(西藏首都)旅行团, 这个“团”的“责任”只是从中甸机场至拉萨市。抵拉萨市后我们就可自己旅行了。代办的入境签证只限于拉萨市,如要离拉萨市到郊外,要另外签证。

我和Ed的假期只乘几天,没时间到郊外。所以,这种签证刚好适合我们。 虽不如我梦想中的“一个月把西藏游遍”的计划,可机会难得,看一看驰名的拉萨也好。价钱比我们预测的便宜。唯一 的问题是我们不会见到所谓的签证,因为这个签证是团体的,不是个人的。我怎么知道我们是否真的进得了去,或进了去出不了来。 加上,我们必须告诉负责人我们要飞离的日子,他帮我们代买飞离拉萨的机票。可是,机票要到了拉萨,再到另一家他们接洽的旅行社才可拿到。

你们无法i想象我们当时有多担心!我进进出出这旅行社十多次,问长问短,要探测这位负责人的可靠性。我最最担心的是,我和负责人的所有交谈,Ed一个字都听不懂。Ed是比我精明的人,我较心地善良,一路上就曾被小骗过一,两次。不过,那些是小骗,我几乎是心甘情愿地被骗。我一直解释说,哎呀,他们日子贫穷,我多给人民币几元 有什么关系。可是,如果这次我又被骗的话,后果不堪设想。可是,担心归担心,有些难逢的机会是不可放过的。 看那负责人还蛮可靠的,就决定信一信他。

“团”内除了我俩和其他看来像是自助旅行的人 ,还有几个泰国佛教僧侶。代办人不但为我们定机票,还接送我们到中甸机场和弄妥一切机场手续,难得不必操心。

中甸的机场只有一座小小但现代化的建筑物。因中甸的地理属高原地区,海拨高度约为3400公尺。 机场的座落于盆地。所以,飞机跑道旁即是一座座的山,非常壮观(如右图)。

在机上,我们认识到几位在西藏教英文的加拿大人。有一两个竟在西藏住了六,七年。我还以为西藏机场也有中甸机场的特色,可却令我失望兼惊讶于它的现代化。 还有机舱和机场衔接的通道,不用乘客走到柏油跑道上去登落机。

抵达西藏机场时,有旅行小巴来机场接我们这“团”人。一路有少见的高山平原风景,旅行巴士内有导游一路为我们讲解。当巴士过中国政府的海关时,有这个导游接洽。一切有如团体旅行。从西藏机场至拉萨市约需一个多小时车程。一路上,有中国军队驻守。偶见小镇,这些小镇就像我们在中国境内见到的。镇上店铺的门牌都用大大的中文字,藏文字只是小小的,不起眼的。除了那高原风景,有时我真不敢肯定我是不是到了西藏。

在巴士上,我已微微有一点点头疼和晕昏 。我知道这是高山症症状,不是晕车。那时不明为何中甸和拉萨(海拔约3650公尺)海拔只差约250公尺,我在中甸没高山症。怎知,一抵西藏竟马上感到。今天在网上才读到,是因为中甸的森林资源比较丰富,生态环境好,提供了相当丰富的氧气,所以与拉萨相比,游人的高原反应并不强烈。

抵达拉萨时,巴士把旅客送到各自指定的旅馆。我们的“团体旅行”即算结束。我和Ed即开始我们的拉萨自助游记…..(下回待续)

I have recently changed the blog theme design, and Ed happens to choose a photo of Potala Palace as the header image, which immediately remind me of our trip to Lhasa three years ago.

Ed and I backpacked in China at that time. Tibet was not in our original plan but while we were visiting Zhongdian(a small town located at the boarder of Tibet), we saw a poster for a travel agent that specialised in helping independent (and budget-minded) travellers to get visas for Tibet. Out of curiosity, and with my long standing dream of visiting Tibet, we went to see how “easy” it is to enter the country without being on a tour. The agent seemed reliable and honest, and the cost was also less than expected. He only got us visas to visit Lhasa, the capital of Tiber. If we wanted to travel around the country, we had to get additional visas. Ed and I only had only a few days left for our trip, hence this seemed to be a reasonable choice (although it was different from my intention to go for one whole month sometime in the future. However, this was a rare chance and we decided to go for it, seeing that we were so close).

Since the Chinese government does not encourage independent travelling, this agent applied for a ‘group’ visa for us, which also included a couple of other backpackers and a group of Thai buddhist monks. The agent not only helped us to book the air tickets, he also drove us to the Zhongdian airport himself and helped us to check in. It was really like a ‘tour group’ organised by his travel agent but we can go on our own once we reach Lhasa. We couldn’t get our return air tickets until we got to Tibet, which worried Ed greatly, since he is a natural worrier.

Zhongdian airport only consists of a very small but modern building for check-in. It is one of the few gateway to Tibet. Zhongdian’s is in a mountainous area and the city sits at 3400m above sea level. The runway is situated in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains making the scenery absolutely stunning (as picture above).

We met a few Canadians on the plane and enjoyed their stories of teaching English in Tibet. A couple of them had been living in Tibet for about six to seven years and still loves it! When we arrived, I thought the Tibet airport would be similar to Zhongdian airport, but it is a very modernised and with a gangway so we don’t have to walk on the tarmac to the terminal. What a surprise and disappointment !

Once out of the airport, a minibus came to pick us (the whole ‘tour group’) up. It was an hour or more long journey from the airport to Lhasa itself. Along the way, there are beautiful mountainous plateau scenery, we also had a tour guide to tell us some stories about Tibet. He was also in charged of getting us pass customs. I could see lots of Chinese Army personnel along the way. There were small towns along the road but it looked like many others we saw in China. Sometimes, I was unsure if I really was in Tibet because I saw signs with huge Chinese characters, while the Tibetan characters were very small or unnoticeable.

In the bus, I felt a mild headache and dizziness. I knew it was more to do so with the high altitude than with car sickness. At that time, I did not understand why I suffered from high altitude sickness here and not in Zhongdian. There was only 250 meters difference between the two cities (Lhsas is at 3650m), but I could feel the symptoms much more acutely here. After some research online today, I realised the Zhongdian region has more forest reserves than Tibet, thus resulting in a better supply of oxygen. This is why the symptoms of high altitude sickness are more prominent in Tibet.

When our group arrived in Lhasa, we were dropped off at each individual requested accommodation. This signified the completion of our ‘group tour’ and beginning of my own adventures in Lhasa…… (to be continued)

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