July172013

Might as well face it. We’re addicted to Oxygen in a can.

June302013

Lunchtime: We stopped at a small town for lunch. I have no idea where we were. I asked the table and the general consensus was somewhere in Tibet.

Basang told us the food would not be as good as what we had in Lhasa and it was, of course, scrumptious. The ladies posed and demonstrated the chopstick dance of death that comes with family style eating.

On the way down from the squatter restroom, I saw this cute little burrito passed out on the sofa by the stairs. Had to be a creeper and photograph the unattended child.

Before getting on the bus, Ben bought some delicious Yak cheese which Jennie thoroughly enjoyed. Yum!

1AM

Stuck in the mud-dle with you: Yamdrok lake is an unworldly blue. Our next stop allowed us to get closer to it. I got too close. After cuddling yet another goat and photographing Owlie Bird, I wanted to touch the lake. One enthusiastic step too far (about 1 meter from the water) I sunk knee deep into the mud. Having already ruined my pants, I decided to take another step to complete my goal. I was landlocked. My dear friends laughed but ran to help. Leigh Ann thought fast and saved my iPad - she had her priorities straight! Adrian, thinking journalistically, made sure she got a photo which I smiled for. Red faced from laughter and embarrassment, I reached my little T-Rex arms as hard as I could and finally made contact! It was cold and delightful. I am a stubborn fool sometimes.

My friends pulled me out and the repercussions of my little adventure became apparent when I got back to the vehicle. The bus driver understandably wanted nothing to do with me. He handed me tissue and I tried as best I could to scoop off the slop from my shoes but everything was caked. Finally, I went to the back, dropped my shoes and jeans after asking all the men to avert their eyes and put my pj shorts over my tights which were just barely salvageable. Cold and damp, I stretched out and waited to dry. Sigh, I think I win the dork award for the day.

1AM
PEAK POWER For the WIN!: Melsa coordinated the ladies and we took our own little appreciative, promotional shot of the Herbalogic tincture we’ve all been relying on since a week before Tibet. Love this stuff. We thought the fashionable goats were a nice touch not to mention the apropos peaks in the background.

PEAK POWER For the WIN!: Melsa coordinated the ladies and we took our own little appreciative, promotional shot of the Herbalogic tincture we’ve all been relying on since a week before Tibet. Love this stuff. We thought the fashionable goats were a nice touch not to mention the apropos peaks in the background.

1AM
A word on photographers: I ain’t one.  All of my blog photos are taken on my iPad and I didn’t think to download an app to coolify them. I like to think of myself as an artist in training however my work has always involved a canvas, a brush, potent chemicals or a stage.   

Getting to sit in the back of the bus and watch Shenny Boo Boo (a legit photographer) at work has been a real treat. He watches, he waits and he achieves what he wants with one or two clicks whereas I have had to resort to furious taps on my touchscreen before we round a bend.  I have watched other photographer friends and I am always impressed by their intention and focus. 

So it amused me that throughout our drive, Dr. Shen was sweet enough to call great shots to my attention (sometimes even affectionately whacking me on the back of the head when I had drifted into la la land :) and I have, in gimpy fashion, pulled out my large device and captured what I can. I appreciate his assistance but I can’t help but laugh at how little I know about the proper execution of this art form. 

I can’t wait to see his work and see what those shots were actually meant to look like.

A word on photographers: I ain’t one. All of my blog photos are taken on my iPad and I didn’t think to download an app to coolify them. I like to think of myself as an artist in training however my work has always involved a canvas, a brush, potent chemicals or a stage.

Getting to sit in the back of the bus and watch Shenny Boo Boo (a legit photographer) at work has been a real treat. He watches, he waits and he achieves what he wants with one or two clicks whereas I have had to resort to furious taps on my touchscreen before we round a bend. I have watched other photographer friends and I am always impressed by their intention and focus.

So it amused me that throughout our drive, Dr. Shen was sweet enough to call great shots to my attention (sometimes even affectionately whacking me on the back of the head when I had drifted into la la land :) and I have, in gimpy fashion, pulled out my large device and captured what I can. I appreciate his assistance but I can’t help but laugh at how little I know about the proper execution of this art form.

I can’t wait to see his work and see what those shots were actually meant to look like.

June292013

Yamdrok Baby: We arrive at a photo op spot and are let loose for 30 minutes. I have a second yak picture to add to the family album (pretty classy) and I can already tell that my parents will be proud. Women aggressively put baby goats in our arms and I gladly pay them and smile for the camera. Hey, I am a sucker for this sort of thing and those guys were soft! I walk away from the group at the end of the “family photos” and get lost in the blue of the lake, the aggressive peaks of the mountains and the purely epic nature of this place. I feel small, insignificant and hyper aware of my mortality. Such presence used to scare the shit out of me. Now it only brings me peace.

11PM

Bus Meditations: And we are off to Xigatse (the second largest city in Tibet) by way of Yamdrok lake. Woohoo!!! When I was in Tibet the last time, we didn’t get to spend much time by the lake so I am super psyched for today. There is also no better way to recover from being bedridden than sitting in a seat for 10 hours watching the countryside roll by. We climb higher and higher on the windy road. The bumps make my iPad dance off my lap and back on again.

My iPod is on shuffle and at one point, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” starts to play as our driver braves a hairpin turn. “Holy shit” I can’t help but exclaim. “Oh my god” Dr. Shen laughs nervously behind me and Adrian lets out a cute little scream, exclaiming “I can’t believe how high we are. We’re up there with the peaks.” This iPad cannot begin to capture how close we are to these drop offs. My comrades nod off only to awaken to death defying maneuvers along cliffside edges. I see a lone yak grazing on a 25 degree strip of grass. He looks comfortable but the sight brings my vertigo back in waves. After awhile, it passes.

In this meditative state that builds with every hour, I feel more removed from AOMA and my life in Austin than ever before.

June102013

Where is my Da Qi at!?!?: Had early dinner at a Nepalese restaurant recommended by Rachel and Melsa. Still feeling so slow and out of breath. Everything feels heavy and not in that nice, damp Emei cloud way. In fact, every pore of my body is completely dried up in Lhasa. Natalie and I had to force ourselves to eat. Great quote from Nat: “I don’t want to go outside. It’s poison”. I ate aesthetically pleasing Yak curry. We finished with banana fritters. I had to sneeze and in my lethargy, I couldn’t get my hand to my face or my face turned in time so I ruined our fritters. Sorry Nat. We are wrecked!

Stopped and got some cool genie pants and skirts for At and I and ran into the rest of the group heading out to dinner as we were getting home. A lot of people are going to a cultural performance tonight which I would have loved to attend in other circumstances. As it is, I am grateful for this mattress and this pillow. I am about to spend some quality time with them. I hurt but am still having a special time with you, Tibet. My corporeal awareness is refreshing and I was able to write 2 haikus just now. Why I did that, I do not know. Thank you for the inspiration and the challenges and good night!

11PM

Monk Debates: Hobbled very slowly to a taxi and rejoined our group as they were loading back on the bus after lunch. I still feel drunk but more cellularly saturated than I did. There’s no other way I can describe the somatic experience. They applauded us as we walked on. It was embarrassing but nice. We made it to a temple where we looked at some gorgeous mandalas (photos were not permitted without a donation) and then on to the debates. The sun was harsh but Alan was a gentleman and lent me his umbrella. The monk debates were not quite the debates we are accustomed to. Western decorum be damned! The monks crowded into the center of the Debating Courtyard while the tourists hugged the perimeter, photographing away. One monk would be on trial and the rest would essentially yell and get a running start to hit or slap the air in front of him while he attempted to defend himself. I got transfixed by this one pair. The younger guy was taking what appeared to be a severe verbal beating but he saw me filming him a couple times and smiled which broke the intensity for me as an observer. I don’t know if it did the same for him. I have to research this whole process more when I get home. One thing’s for sure. This makes clinic chastisement a lot less intimidating.

Photographed a zen cat and the mountain range on my slow walk back to the bus.

11PM

High as a Lhasa Kite: AND I’m sick. Can’t keep denying that something is wrong. My throat and nose are on fire and I slept, maybe, 1 hour last night. Having a cold at this altitude is excruciatingly painful. My eyes, face and chest feel so constricted and breathing is very difficult. Eating feels too troublesome to bother with. I still have bloody, greenish nasal discharge. I told Basang and Dr. Shen that I would not be able to make the first half of the day (luckily I have already been to the summer palace on my last visit) but I don’t want to miss the Monk Debates after lunch. I may just have to.

I was going to head up to the hotel room after talking to the group when Dr. Shen asked if I had any cold medicine. I didn’t so I said I would stop at the lobby clinic. She took my vitals and said I had a Heart Rate over 130, Oxygen of 74 and Blood Pressure of 148/92. She asked if I had a heart condition. “Not usually” I said! My usual BP is at most 114/80. My temperature was high and my throat was almost swollen shut and very red. She told me it might be tonsillitis which I said was impossible thanks to my tonsillectomy 2 decades ago to which she replied, “then your throat is not good”. She diagnosed me with Acute Mountain Sickness and an Acute Cold.

What happened next was slightly painful, a little odd but ultimately very cool. She said I required an IV treatment with Oxygen IN MY HOTEL ROOM! I received an injection in my hip which took 15 seconds and hurt like hell - ironically, this acupuncture student is a needle pansy - then spent the next 3 hours hooked up to an IV, breathing a huge tank of Oxygen while watching New Girl episodes with Natalie as she recovered from her own altitude poisoning symptoms. She was kind enough to take the first 2 photos. I called Brian and whined to him in my inebriated state. I also wrote my new travel Penpal, Dean. I signed off, “High as a Lhasa Kite” which is the best way I can describe my current mental and physical state. I am definitely under the influences of, um, life at 11,975 feet according to Google. Can’t wait to read these probably incoherent posts later. Final HR is now 84, O2 is 93 and BP is 120/78. As Homer Simpson wrote as he slipped into madness in the Treehouse of Horror Shining parody, “Feelin’ fine”. Thank you Hotel Clinic Angel. I will never forget you.

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