October 3, 2000
At Last Im in Lhasa. China was tough. Being in the Beijing Airport was a nightmare. I got past customs okay. Then it all went to "Heck in a bucket!" The lady at the money exchange made a big deal about checking my signature with my passport and travelers checks. A Chinese soldier came over and stood beside me, checking it all out. Finally I stood there long enough and I got my money, and went on my way.
I met Stirling, and then we found Miles and John. Plenty of time to check in, everythings on schedule wrong! Totally wrong. Due to some stupid obscure China Air policy, the only Americans on the flight, were waitlisted on Stand-by. Then at the last possible moment they gave us our boarding passes. Frantically trying to find the gate at the last minute. Running thru the airport. No one speaks English or tries to be helpful. We got to the gate, out of breath, at the last possible moment.
The airplane was full of Chinese businessmen hocking spit balls into the air sickness bags. All these guys spitting into these bags. The flight took us into Chengdu, China.
Miles and John are these two really cool, big, black guys. They are in their 20s and look like Rap singers. People in China were very interested in them.
We got to Chengdu Airport, we met a guide who arranged taxis to our hotel. Taxi cab ride was amazing. Crazy looking, skinny, Chinese guy driving fast and changing lanes. Hocking Spit out the window while he races along. Spit, Spit, Spit its non stop. Im thinking he was trying to impress us by spitting. Some sort of male territory ritual, or macho posturing. Driving fast and changing lanes, almost brushing the other cars around us. He pulls out a cigarette. His cell phone rings. He starts yelling in Chinese into the cell phone.
"You tell em," Miles is making little comments while the cab driver keeps yelling into the cell phone, "Give 'em hell boss."
Chinese cab driver driving fast , changing lanes, hocking spit out the window while he races through traffic, Spit, Spit, Spit In between spitting, he is yelling in Chinese into the cell phone. Didnt forget about that cigarette did he? Oh no, out comes the cigarette lighter. One hand trying to light the cigarette, click, spark, click, click the other hand on the cell phone. No hands on the wheel!
I knew God was watching over me. Im traveling with spirit. So I was cool. After all this, they werent going to let me die in Chengdu. I just sat back, tried to relax, and I guess I prayed a little too. We made it to the hotel okay.
The Garden City Hotel in Chengdu was really nice. We got our Tibet visas and air tickets to Lhasa from the guide, so all was cool. It was John and Miles first trip to Asia, so they were tripping on all the beautiful women. They went out on the streets, and they were like celebrities. Everyone wanted to see these two big guys from America. We got up at 4 oclock in the morning. Caught the flight to Lhasa. We boarded the plane from the old fashioned outdoor ramps. It was still dark.
Got to Lhasa Airport okay. The Tibetan Guide and Driver met us there. The six of us all got crammed inside a Toyota Land Cruiser. It took about an hour to get to town from the airport.
Im still not used to the altitude. Really bad headaches and nausea last night. I want to do a million things, but I dont have the energy. Went for a short walk on the street. Chinese shops and Tibetan Beggars. I saw a three year old and two year old children sitting on the side walk, playing with an old hypodermic needle. They appeared to be using it to burst apart bugs by injecting them with air. Women with their children, begging for food money. It is so sad and depressing.
There are Chinese soldiers everywhere. Some have automatic weapons strapped over their shoulders. Truckloads of soldiers racing up and down the roadways.