August 11, 2005
If you find yourself heading to this part of world, here are some practical travel tips from the road.
1. Watermelons are your best bet fruitwise. Buy a small one, carve a small circle in the top (like a jack-o-lantern) and eat the insides with a spoon. If you cut the top like a lid it will keep for 2-3 days.
2. Baby wipes. Showers are non-existent. Baby wipes keep you feeling semi-fresh. You can actually find them here now so no need to haul them.
3. It's not about being clean, it's about feeling clean. The best way to feel clean: get your hair washed at a salon. They use warm water and often follow it up with a nice head massage.
4. Shaving. Why bother.
5. For your pack. Plastic baggies. The key to a tidy pack is to keep everything compartmentalized. Plastic baggies keep dirty stuff away from clean stuff and keep wet away from dry.
6. Clothes. Don't bring any clothes you will ever want to wear again.
7. Food. It's ok to eat it as long as it's steaming hot. If it's not hot don't eat it. The best bet in all of Tibet, skewers. The skewer ladies come out at night and depending on the size of the city have a decent variety of meats and vegetables.
8. Toilet. All toilets here are untenable, it's best to do it in the hills. If you want to be eco-conscious make sure to smear everything nice and thin. Round rocks are more eco-friendly than paper. If you must use paper, burn it.
9. Fights. If you stay out late you will see fights. It is ok to watch from the sidelines but stay to the back. If knives are drawn, run like hell. Remember everyone here carries a knife.
10. Drinking. If you are a foreigner you will often be grabbed by the head and brought into a circle of men and expected to display your drinking prowess. The problem is that the drink of choice is Bai-jou, a sorghum based liquor that smells like kerosene (we used it to start a fire the other day). You will not outdrink these guys. The best option is to start laying down challenges and starting lots of very loud toasts. If you are lucky everyone will get so caught up in the challenges and start arguing amongst themselves that you can slip away, otherwise prepare for a rough evening.