Tibet...Facebook and Google are blocked, oh my!

After years of procrastination, I have finally started using this site as a work in progress. Don't get me wrong, I didn't set it up out of an obligation for some altruistic vision to enlighten current and future travelers/learners. I set it up, with the awesome assistance of John Locke, my technology guru, because my usual communication venues of Google and Facebook were blocked when I traveled to Tibet and China in 2017. This site is for my friends, family, and former students who may be interested to know that I am not dead and still alive to tell about it!

With that, here is the continuation of an incredible journey that started after six months in Diego Garcia, with very cool adventures in Singapore and Nepal, until I discovered Facebook and Google were banned in Tibet and the rest of China. 

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Aerial view of Everest

TIBET After that fantastic evening eating, drinking, and jamming with my awesome new Nepalese Family, I ended up boarding a plane for Tibet and saw these really big mountains...Holy Shit, is that Everest out my window :-) Left to right in second picture...Mahalangur Himal, Lhotsel, Everest, Makalu.

The trip kept getting better and better after I landed in Lhasa. I shared drinks with a young family... I helped another young man and soon to be a proud father name his soon to be born daughter. He was looking for an "American name." The name, you ask? The first name that popped into my head is one of my all-time favorite jazz tunes...and my first ex-wife's name--Laura. He looked it up and immediately shook my hand voraciously and ran out the door. I guess he liked the name!

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Flying over Everest

Finally, as I was finishing the last bites of my yak dinner... These three girls slid into my bench and the older one,Tseyang, started an interesting conversation about journalism in Tibet, the recent U.S. election, and offered to show me around Lhasa and be my translating service if I would work with her on English and the nuances of being a career journalist...of course, I didn't fail to mention I was a writer for my college newspaper like she was, and taught a high school journalism course.

All of the stars were aligning, but when I tried to connect to Facebook or anything associated with Google, the apps were struggling to open. We exchanged numbers and promised to download the We Chat app. Well, I found out quickly thereafter that every communication tool I used, except for Riot, was blocked by the Chinese government. Unfortunately, we never were able to meet again after my startling discovery that all of my communication tools were blocked.


The next morning Topla, my guide for the four days in Lhasa mandatorily imposed by the Chinese government, took me around to some pretty incredible temples. No photography inside, but plenty outside. I would say the most striking act I saw was numerous devotees supplicating themselves every three steps, in a clockwise rotation around the bazaar. Topla also did this ritual every morning for two hours and he said many of these worshipers would do it for five or more hours per day. Incredible devotion and in such inclement weather! Thus is the most religious city I have had the honor to visit, with Istanbul during Ramadan being a close second! The next day, the day after the Chinese New Year, we visited Potala Palace, where all of the Buddhas are entombed! Incredible history and a lot of gold!!! As we were finishing the visit, the weather got quite colder, snow started falling, and after an incredible late lunch...I started feeling the effects of a fever. Topla was getting over a cold and more than likely have it to me. Meals are usually shafted events with a communal bowl or two. We had a full day, so I headed back to the room and nursed a fever all night! Fortunately, the fever broke and I successfully boarded the train for Shanghai, one of the highest railroads in the world.

Check out these altitude numbers and views! 5072 Meters, which is 16,640.42 FT!!! I also met some pretty cool train buddies...Yuzhifu, Frank (coincidence...go figure), and Majunlin.