Tibet

Did you know?

*  The first foreigners weren’t officially allowed into Lhasa until 1979. Then, only 1200 Westerners had ever seen the city, and 600 of those were with the 1903 British invasion. Now, Chinese outnumber Tibetans in the holy city.

*  Showing kindness to guests is one of the most important traditions of Tibetan culture. The Communist Chinese have been unwelcome guests in Tibet for over 50 years now. Over 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed.

*   The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959.

*  The Potala Palace in Lhasa, whose construction began in 1645, was traditional home of the Dalai Lama. It rises 13 stories and contains over 1 000 rooms–all built without nails or the use of wheeled equipment.

*  The Panchen Lama, leader of the Yellow-Hat sect, is the 2nd highest incarnation in Tibetan Buddhism. The 6-year old Panchen Lama was kidnapped by the Communists in 1995–, and hasn’t been seen since.

*  All of Tibet is on Beijing time, over 3 200km to the east. It’s not uncommon for the sun to rise after 9am and set just as late.

*  Mount Everest is known in Tibetan as Chomolongma, or the Mother Goddess. Everest base camp boasts the world’s highest toilet.

*  Rongbuk Monastery at 4 983m, lies at the foot of Mt. Everest. Thousands of Tibetan monasteries, which were destroyed during The Cultural Revolution, rest now, as dust, under our feet.

*  Altitudes along the Lhasa to Kathmandu route range from 1 260m to 5 212m. Altitude sickness, which can prove deadly, is not uncommon at those heights.

*  Brandon and Cheryl Wilson hiked approximately 1 000 km from Lhasa to Kathmandu. That’s about the distance of a roundtrip from Los Angeles to San Francisco or Paris to Berlin. They averaged about 30 km a day, from dawn till dusk. Temperatures along their route ranged from below freezing to 32 degrees C. Sometimes in the same day! They survived on yak butter tea, tsampa, momos, yak milk cheese, "761s" (a high-calorie fat and graham cracker bar) and a few dehydrated food packets for over a month. Brandon lost 25% of his body weight. After their horse Sadhu binged, they were warned not to feed him any more—or he’d explode. The word sadhu in Tibetan means "chestnut". In Nepalese, a sadhu is “a wandering holy man”. Sadhu already had his name when he joined them, Serendipity.

*  While walking on this trail in 1992, Brandon realized that the story of their survival was intricately interwoven with that of their hosts. The Tibetan peoples’ struggle today adds a more important dimension to this tale – and their book shares their plight with you.

*  Tibetan culture is one of the most hospitable cultures in the world. Tibetans treat their guests with the utmost respect. Please do your best, to follow the cultural norms, when travelling there. Generally, try to interact with your hosts. Try to speak Tibetan or make some jokes. Don't be too aloof. Don't embarrass your hosts by asking them for things they can't provide. Here is a list of Do's and Don’ts to help you show respect as a guest in Tibetan areas.

Food
*  Don't smell your food.
*  Don't ask to be shown the food while people are cooking.
*  Don't throw away leftover tea.
*  Eat and drink at least a little of whatever the host offers you.
*  You don't need to finish everything you are offered.
*  If you want more food, ask the host - don't just help yourself. It is not impolite to ask for more.
*  Don't rub your belly or stretch your arms after a meal.
*  You may burp and eat noisily during a meal.
*  Don't take leftovers for yourself.
*  Eat as much as you need.
*  Elders and Lamas
*  When lamas or elders come in or leave, you should stand up.
*  Answe!r clearly, when elders or lamas address you.
*  If you meet a lama, remove your hat and bend down a little. If you speak Tibetan, do your best to use polite words.
*  Don't sit with your back facing elders.
*  Don't call elders directly by name.
*  Be patient with elders, and flatter them a little from time to time.

Modest Conduct
*  Don't wear revealing clothing, for example short pants or clothes, that show your arms.
*  Don't kiss or hug people of the opposite sex. You can shake hands.
*  Apart from questions about sex and love, feel free to ask any questions.
*  Don't touch people on the top of the head.
*  Men and women shouldn't sit too close to each other.
*  Don't stare at anyone for a long time.
*  Men should avoid making contact with women, they don't know.
*  Don't fart loudly, especially when people are eating.
*  Generally, women shouldn't smoke or drink alcohol.
*  Don't boast about yourself.
*  Don't point your fingers at image of lamas, Buddhas or deities. Use your outstretched hand with upturned palm.
*  Don't put your shoes or socks beside the shrine.
*  Don't wash or comb your hair near the shrine.
*  Don't take photos in the shrine.
*  Don't smoke in the shrine.

Sitting and Moving
*  Take off your hat when you enter a house.
*  Sit wherever the host asks you to sit.
*  Don't stretch out your legs when sitting. If you can, sit with crossed legs.
*  Don't step over other people (not even their feet) or their clothes.
*  Don't step over or straddle books or photographs.
*  If you are a woman, wearing a skirt, gather it together when you pass people, sitting on the floor and don't let the skirt brush others.
*  Men should generally sit on the right hand side of the house.

Household Objects
*   Don't put your shoes or socks beneath a pillow.
*   Don't pass things, like clothes or shoes, over the stove.
*   Don't wash or comb your hair near the stove.
*   Don't step on pillows or quilts.
*   Take bowls and cups with two hands.

Gifts
*   Always bring gifts, such as candy or pocket money, for children.
*   If you can, bring a gift for the rest of the family, as well. For example fruit, meat, milk, brick tea.