Day 14 – Shigatse to Lhasa Airport to Chengdu
CY was feeling better today and had a healthier appetite during breakfast. As usual, my companions were ardent fans of hard-boiled eggs. I went for Tsampa which I had read about but had not tried as I wasn’t sure how to prepare it. The restaurant staff sensed my confusion and helped me mix the ingredients (roasted barley flour, sugar, buttermilk) and knead them together using a spoon.
Here’s the end result:
I couldn’t find an appropriate description of its taste until CC said that the paste-like Tsampa tasted like cereal. That’s pretty accurate I thought. Wait, I checked the definition of cereal and it seems that Tsampa is indeed cereal.
Whatever it is, Tsampa is the main staple of Tibetans and is often called the Tibetan national food. During Buddhist rituals, Tsampa-throwing is performed during festivals and funerals to different meanings. During the Cultural Revolution, Tibetans were forced to grow rice instead of Tsampa. Many Tibetans died of starvation as a result of the failed experiment. The phrase “Tsampa Eater” (vs “Rice Eater”) was often used to arouse the feeling of unity among Tibetans for political purposes. Maybe I can officially call myself a one-off “Tsampa Eater”.
We left Shigatse at around 930am. We would be heading straight to Lhasa airport for our flight back to Chengdu.
Because we had an itinerary of stipulated timings, we cannot reach the next check point early. Interesting har? So there were a lot of time to spare and we often stopped for photo-taking.
We reached the airport just after 2pm. Our flight had been rescheduled from 530pm to 4pm. Well, that’s good news for us. I gave Sim’s Cozy a call to inform them of our new arrival time.
We bade Dawa and the driver farewell and thanked them for the enriching trip in Tibet. It’s been an eye-opener and it’s one of the few places in China where I would really like to return for a longer stay. Hopefully, independent travel in Tibet would be possible by that time.
With time to spare, we decided to have a quick lunch at Dico’s. We had seen this fast-food chain in Tibet and Chengdu and finally had a chance to give it a try. It’s good!
Standing at 3,570m, Lhasa Gonggar Airport is one of the highest airports in the world. It’s surrounded by mountains with elevations ranging from 5,362–6,126 m.
As CY was sitting next to the windows, I requested her to take photos of the landscape. Because of a persistent dot on the photo, I kept pestering her to retake until I realised it’s a dirt mark on the lens. Oops.
So photos of these majestic mountains are courtesy of CY.
I usually travel budget so it felt really nice to have some in-flight meals.
At Chengdu Airport, it took us a few minutes to locate our driver. Our stay tonight would still be the excellent Sim’s Cozy.
It’s our last dinner together in China and we had the famed Sichuan Chuan Chuan Xiang (hotpot). While most locals went for spicy borth, we opted for a mixture of spicy broth and chicken broth. We ended up dipping most of our skewers in the latter. The staff watched with amusement as we carefully selected the skewers and picked only 1 or 2 pieces of each item. Our lack of adventurousness and appetite were evident in the final bill. It came up to just 104RMB which included a 1.5 bottle litre of Coca Cola and fried rice. Haha, it’s a fun experience though.
To work off the dinner, we went for some table soccer and table tennis. CC was surprisingly good at table tennis. Crouching tiger, hidden dragon indeed. Of course, J is the master. He’s the sort of guy who can balance a basketball on a finger and use the other hand to keep it spinning. CY was on att b, light duties so she helped to keep score. We played until midnight before calling it a day.