In 2006 I had the chance to travel to Tibet with 19 other adventursome people. I regret to say that I do not know how to post the many great photos that were taken by others and sent to me on a disk.
Our party journeyed to little exposed territory and went the long way around to the capitol, Lhasa. We had a seven vehical convoy, but on the dirt and gravel roads kept our distance to avoid the dust from the vehicle ahead of us. We went through small rivers and saw roadside camps of rock breakers. The thing that impressed me was that women wore fancy Easter bonnets while breaking up rocks.
Maybe that kept their spirits up during a tough life. The town of Buyi was a strictly new town built for the military, and we were warned that the hotels there were very basic. The basic part was that the water was turned off at night, and we had to fill buckets to save for toilet flushes later.
When we finally got to Lhasa after visiting so many monasteries that they all ran into a blurry film in my mind, we all climbed the 13 stories of the Potala Palace. I was determined to do this as I could not let that 80 year old woman show me up. Of course she had help with the ladders and I always was with someone in case I fainted from the altitude.
I think that the Palace was not a healthful place to raise a child, in that it was smokey, dark, depressing and in all practical events a prison for the Dalai Lama. Of course he will never complain because he was raised to that culture and thinking, but any normal 3 year old is not going to like that lifestyle!
I found the food to be a little too spicy, but the yak yogurt delicious. The closest to the taste in America is Greek nonfat yogurt.
We were rated as an exceptional group by our hosts, in that we never complained about the accomodations or the trench toilets, the cows that invaded our rainy picnic, or the dirty faced beggers still trying to get a few dollars out of us. Our tour guide was quite sharp with them. I had some sympathy for the women begging with her baby in arms but had no money left to give.
I have found that now since the 50th anniversary of the Communist takeover, the area that we saw in the eastern part of the country is now closed to tourists. Only the major cities and the base camp for Mt. Everest are the stops for treks.
It was the perfect travel experience for me, and I have no need to go back now and re-live the scenes of pilgrims and smoke from juniper branches. When I want to I get out the photo disk and show it too myself.