Electric blue skies and majestic mountains were a wonderful welcome as I stepped off the plane in Lhasa, Tibet. In early May, as the Manager of Training and Quality Control, I was sent to Lhasa to meet with our local WildChina team to prepare for the 2010 summer season, lead review sessions on our distinctive service standards, and to develop new products and tweak our itineraries to ensure that our WildChina travelers are eating, staying and experiencing the most unique and authentic aspects of Lhasa. WildChina has been working with our local team in Tibet since 2000 and they perfectly understand WildChina – getting off the beaten path and experiencing real Tibetan life and culture.
I know when I look back in the years to come on my trip to Tibet, I will remember staying at the Yabshir Phunkhang. Per Chungdar’s recommendation, I reviewed and stayed at this recently opened boutique hotel that served as the home of the 11th Dalai Lama’s father in the mid-19th century. Elegant Tibetan accents were thoughtfully applied throughout the hotel to create a stylish retreat to relax and catch your breath (literally!) from the 12,000 ft altitude! The delicious Nepalese curry in their well appointed restaurant was the ideal meal after a long day of travel from Beijing, and the setting would be a special location for a private dinner for a larger party.
WildChina is always trying to find locations and activities that no other travel agencies have discovered and on this trip to Lhasa, we definitely scouted some amazing and unique locations. My favorite new find was a Tibetan nunnery roughly a one hour drive from Lhasa. N Shunsel is a nunnery that is rarely visited by non-locals and is a satisfying three hour hike. Walking through the breathtaking valley and getting stunning views of Lhasa in the distance, I knew we had found a special spot that our WildChina clients would greatly enjoy to visit.
While my time in Lhasa was short and busily spent gearing up the guides for the summer season, the colorful prayer flags, the religious atmosphere that pervades every aspect of Tibetan culture, and chilled barley beer will hopefully soon lure me back to Tibet to explore again.