Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Bruno the Tibetan Mastiff puppy

We had the pleasure of making a new friend yesterday… Bruno!!! He belongs to the folks at Windhorse Adventure and is a purebread Tibetan Mastiff. We took him for a walk around Barkhor square yesterday.

Because of his large size, Bruno looks like an older puppy, but in fact he is just over 8 weeks old… He is gonna be HUGE!

Greg holding Bruno

Bruno has one brown eye and one blue eye. As our friend Gary says, “One eye is looking at me, the other is looking into my soul”…

Francie holding Bruno 1

Bruno is the sweetest puppy and incredibly well behaved, gentle, and mellow. The folks at Windhorse are working hard to train and socialize him well because during the winters (when their offices are closed) he will be living at the Lhasa school for the blind, keeping the kids there company. Good luck Bruno!


August 26, 2007 Posted by | China, Pets, Photography, Tibet, Travel | 3 Comments

Yak butter for everyone!

We were at the Barkhor kora market and we bought eight kilos of this Yak butter. Each of you should expect a little in the mail any day now.

Yaks are very plentiful up in this mountain region and yak butter is a staple of the Tibetian’s diet. You may remember that Francie and I had Tibetian butter tea in Songpan and it was very, very buttery.

It is amazing to see them weigh it on the scales.

Yak Butter Shop

August 26, 2007 Posted by | China, Tibet, Travel, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Article on China’s pollution

The New York Times had an article today on China’s pollution problem. It is a great read. This topic always comes up when we meet other travelers and it is truly scary. When Francie and I were in Beijing we quickly had cold like symptoms because of the air pollution.

Scary facts from the article:

Only 1% of the half billion Chinese people living in cities breath air considered ‘safe’.

Forbidden City

Two-thirds of China’s electricity comes from power plants fed by coal.

Pile of Coal for Christmas

It is easy to dismiss this as a Chinese problem only but one thing to remember about OUR contribution to this crisis is that many of the things we (westerners) buy are manufactured in China. China manufactures many of the goods we want and these non-environmental friendly factories contribute to a lot of the pollution. Of course, the Chinese can make factories more environmentally friendly but is the world ready to pay higher prices for their big screen TV?

I wish everyone could spend a week in Beijing. It really makes the environmental issues we face very real.

August 26, 2007 Posted by | China, Misc, Urban | Leave a comment

Initial Lhasa Impressions

Francie and I arrived (somewhat) fresh off the train from Chengdu and, after checking in to Dongcuo Hostel, headed down to the Barkhor area of Lhasa. The Barkhor area is primarily a ‘kora’ around the Jokhang temple. “The what around what of what?”–you are saying? Well, Tibet and Lhasa are one of the truly ‘holy’ places of Buddhism and a ‘kora’ is a pilgrimage trail or walk around a specific holy site. The Jokhang is a revered building in the center of old Lhasa that we will be visiting in a few days time.

Rooftop view of Lhasa’s Barkhor area


The Barkhor kora is very important to Buddhists and a large crowd of people move around the circuit in a clockwise direction. You see many monks and nuns here–some walking with prayer wheels and some prostrating themselves as they go. Just for the record–prostrating looks very hard and the Barkhor kora isn’t even that long. Prostrating while walking doesn’t look easy at all because you fall to the ground, catching yourself on your arms, drag your legs forward until you are in squatting position, bow until your head touches the ground, and then stand again (repeat many many times). Hmm, is that the right order? I will have to watch a little closer today. Here are people walking the circuit late in the day.


This is another building with prayer wheels along the Barkhor kora.


You can also see people prostrating themselves and praying at the side wall of the Jokhang temple.


This is all pretty fascinating and yesterday Francie commented that Lhasa was really unlike any place we had been–which is totally true. We have often been able to say something like Songpan (China) felt a lot like Laos etc. but not here in Tibet.

Here is Francie at a prayer pillar surrounded by prayer flags + one other interesting person.


We are at a pretty high altitude (about 12,000 feet) but we are doing pretty well with the altitude (much better than I did in Peru) and this probably has a lot to do with the train ride since the cars where pressurized at 12K feet. This morning we booked a hike up to, and around, Nam-tso lake. We are planning to see the Jakhang temple and the Potala Palace in the next couple days as well as set up a little expedition to the Everest Base Camp.

Here are a few more pictures as we are off to explore more of the town.



August 26, 2007 Posted by | China, Photography, Tibet, Travel | Leave a comment

Recent dinner conversation

While perusing the menu at a restaurant in Chengdu…

Greg: Maybe I’ll get that one… Wow, it’s really expensive.
Francie: Uh, I guess… if you call $3.50 expensive.
Greg: No, not the tacos, the fajitas. They’re $6.50, not $3.50.
Francie: Oh my god, that is really expensive!

August 26, 2007 Posted by | Travel | 2 Comments