Well my short trip to Hong Kong, Nepal and Tibet is over and it’s time to reflect. This trip was basically three parts:
- Eight Lounge Experiences
- Nepal Experience
- Tibet Experience
The Nepal and Tibet experience were mostly undertaken via the G Adventures High Road to Tibet tour (review here).
Wanting to make the use of my last few months as a Qantas Platinum / Oneworld Emerald member and the associated access to Oneworld First Class Lounges I booked this trip so soon after returning from Africa in January.
- Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge (review) – 5 /5;
- Qantas Hong Kong Business Lounge (review) – 4 /5;
- Cathay The Wing First Class Lounge (review) – 5 / 5;
- Cathay The Pier First Class Lounge (review) – 5 / 5;
- Kathmandu Executive Lounge (review) – 3.5 / 5;
- Cathay Pacific The Arrival Business Class Lounge (review) – 4 / 5,
- Cathay Pacific The Bridge Business Class Lounge (review) – 4 / 5, and finally
- Cathay Pacific The Deck Business Class Lounge (full review) 3.5 /5.
Highlights included massages at both the Qantas Melbourne First Class lounge and Cathay Pacific Hong Kong The Pier, and the amazing private cabana with lovely bath at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong The Wing. In a very hard call I’ll have to give best lounge to Cathay Pacific Hong Kong The Pier First Class Lounge. I doubt I’ll have a chance to experience these again so very happy I got this change. Lounges can be like a cherry on top of travelling making it a lot easier to get from point A to point B.
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is located mainly in the Himalayas. With an estimated population of 26.6 million, it is 48th largest country by population. It borders China (Tibet) in the north and India in the south, east, and west while Bangladesh is located only 27 km fromits southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim (making it a good point to get to Bhutan). Nepal uses the Nepalese Rupee which is worth 84 rupee to 1 Australian dollar.
I ended up spending seven days in Nepal with the highlights including; Thamel Market, Durbar Square, Sisterhood of Survivors, Five hour hike (Sanga to Panauti), home stay in Panauti, The Great Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple, Kumari Devi (Living Goddess), Patan Durbar Square.
The temperature ranged from 20-24c during my stay. The air was very dusty in the capital and you have to watch it for the traffic in particular the noisey motorcycles. The major religion is Hindu but also with a strong number of Buddhist.
The religious sights were impressive. You can see how the 2015 earthquake is still impacting the country as they rebuild. I found the people very friendly, prices fairly cheap and lots to like. The Indian influence is easy to see, Bollywood movies playing on lots of TVs, but also some Tibetan influence from those who left Tibet during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1996.
Tibet is a region that is now ruled by China that covers much of the Tibetan Plateau in Inner Asia. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level. The current population is approximately 3.1 million. Tibet as part of China uses Chinese Yuan which is worth 4.9 Yuan to 1 Australian dollar.
I ended up spending ten days in Tibet with the highlights including; Barkhor Square, Jokhang Temple, Debating Monks (Sera Monastery), Polata Palace, Tsamkhung Nunnery, Yamdrok Tso Lake, Tibetan Mountains, Pelkor Chode Monastery, Gyantse Kumbum, Gyatso la pass, Tashilunpo Monastery, Shigatse Bazaar, Mount Everest and the stunning Himalayas.
The temperature ranged from minus 10 to 18c during my stay. The air was extremely dry at this high altitude. At Lhasa the locals all use electric vehicles which means very quiet motorcycles. The major religion is Buddhism. While the religious sights are great (those that survived the Cultural Revolution) in particular the Polata Palace which is the home of the Dali Lama (currently in exile).
However the real highlight was the Tibetan / Himalayas landscape and in particular Mount Everest the highest mountain on earth. I got as high as 5,300 metres above sea level which is still far below the peak of Mount Everest at 8,800 metres.
The sad fact however of Tibet is that it is an occupied by the Chinese Government since the 1960s. They rule with a very firm hand, every house has a Chinese Flag on it, their are Chinese police and military everywhere, closed circuit TV watching you and checkpoints everywhere (I had to use my passport at least 14 times during the ten days). The local Tibetans as a rule can’t get visas to leave China to travel overseas (there are some limited exceptions).
While the Chinese Government has eased up on some restrictions for example the Monasteries are slowly rebuilding there number of monks and the buildings that were wrecked previously. However the current Dali Lama’s picture and an reference is strictly forbidden. An visitors can struggle to get visas to visit this region which is why I entered from Nepal. You can see the Chinese Government investing significant sums into this region in particular the fast rail to better link with the rest of China.
Tibet is an amazing country (or autonomous region of China) and well worth a visit. It’s just sad that a people with such a long and proud history don’t have self determination.