08-10-2006 15:38

Today we woke up late all tired. We decided not to stay another night there but rather drive on to Lhasa about 5 hours away. After being in a car with each other the whole day yesterday and being so tired needless to say we were all a little grumpy. We did our work like good little CCTV employees but all of us wanted a break. We drove out to an area that had a monument from the Asian games. Out of nowhere we were greeted by 3 old Tibetan women with barely any teeth and a small boy about the age of 6. The women approached up immediately begging for money. I saw the Chinese men we were with pay them off then try to shoo them away, but I spoke up as I noticed an opportunity for me to maybe connect with the people of this secret land. I gave them some money and some chocolate crackers, not sure which one they wanted more. One of the old women posed happily for my camera as I excitedly sprang to the occasion. After they bored of me a little I walked out a bit closer to the road. There I found the little boy sitting in the grass picking the longest strands he could find. He had a sparkle in his eye and peace in his tone. That moment held the first true glimpse for me of the harmony of the Tibetan people with their land. He sang to himself and watched me as I sat near him. It made me think of my niece and nephew back in North America who have more toys than they would ever need, toys that to me only seem to be distraction from the real freedom of imagination they could find in their own backyard. I saw a happiness in this little boys eyes that I don't believe the modern world can give. For a human to grow up so in tune with nature is something modern day society has unfortunately begun to stray away from. I was then called to work.

We moved to another place up along the railway track where the yaks grazed happily. As part of the conservation along the railway, the grass underneath was cut out and moved while the construction happened. Upon completion, all the grass was moved back to its original area where the yaks seem to have not even noticed a change. While we interviewed the head of the construction site, a tall, thin Tibetan man walked up to see what was happening. He was so funny as he stood right beside the cameraman as if he was part of the group. Amazed by my white colored hair, he walked over to me and smiled. I smiled back and tried to ask if I could take a picture. I believe that if this man was to have grown up in my society, he to would be a cameraman for he took my camera right out of my hands and attempted to take a picture of me. I think this may have been the first time he had ever held a camera for he did not know which button to push, but with a little guidance from me, he snapped the picture happily and gave me back my camera. I think he is the most endearing photographer I have ever worked with.

Driving on to Lhasa we followed a rushing river at the base of the mountains. We had about 2 hours to go until we would find civilization again. This drive into Lhasa began to show the Buddhist side of the people. Buddhist temples of all sizes I could see in the land around me. Some of them were just a pile of bricks placed like a small house with Tibetan prayer flags around it. Others were large and white with a tall thin gold rod out the top of them. These ones were quite modern and became more so as we drew nearer to Lhasa. Just before Lhasa, about 10 kilometers, we entered a small village where many farmers were working in their crops. The background showed layers of mountains displaying different colors due to the suns spot in the sky. Every so often your eyes would be blessed by a sea of the most vibrant yellow flowers waving in the wind. As I caught my breath from the beauty I saw 3 little girls skipping down a path between the fields. Their multi colored dressed danced behind them with each step of their delight. This is Tibet, this sacred, serene, lush land blessed by people in harmony with nature. This is the Tibet I came to see. This is the Tibet I hope will stay.

I was so happy to see our nice hotel with nice sheets and towels and clean carpets. Out of my window I can see the Patella Palace up at the top of the hill. The sky behind it was blue with white clouds as the sun setting makes all the buildings of Lhasa shine. Our banquet dinner was one we were all happy to be at. Red wine filled our glasses, fresh seafood filled our plates, and laughter filled the air. As we looked each other in the eyes at dinner we knew we had just experienced something so rare together that we will remember forever. The hard part of our journey had completed and our programs were almost done. We celebrated as 2 Tibetan women sang us Tibetan songs, one by one, and we had to thank them by sipping red wine twice, then finishing the glass on the third sip. Their voices were so powerful and they naturally did a little dance when they sang their traditional song in Tibetan language especially for me. My eyes had tears of joy in them but I don't think anyone saw.


Editor:Ge Ting