<p><em>Drepung Monestary, afternoon courtyard debate.</em></p>  <p>Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times has an <a href=
<p>Drepung Monestary, afternoon courtyard debate 2.</p>
<p>Drepung Monestary, afternoon courtyard debate 3.</p>
<p>Chinese tourists being photographed in front of the <a href=
<p>Lhasa street scenes: the somewhat rare foreigner and Tibetan with <a href=
<p>Lhasa street scenes: Man with money</p>
<p>Lhasa street scenes: Woman with prayer wheel</p>
<p>Lhasa street scenes: My favorite tree. Near the Muslim quarter. </p>
<p>4:00 AM (GMT+8), waiting in line for tickets to Drepung to see the <a href=
<p>Near Lhasa: burning things, close to <a href=
<p>A yak, a mountain. This was taken around 18,000 feet which is where our small base camp was located. I believe this was the third day of the expedition. I was wandering off by myself, moving very slowly (from the altitude). There were yaks everywhere, and where there were no yaks there were signs of them: yak dung every 10 meters in all directions. I was able to get quite close to them. They eyed me suspiciously but didn't seem threatened. I don't know how aggressive the average yak is but these seemed completely benign — or maybe they too were suffering from acute altitude sickness. </p>  <p>There were no other travelers, no other dwellers. And also, because of the altitude, no trees. I saw several yak skulls — evidence that the creatures do die, despite their ageless appearance. Or perhaps are only murdered. I had no way to investigate. </p>
<p>Above: The newly snow capped mountains around Namtso Lake. </p>  <p>The last night of our expedition was spent camping alongside Namtso. That night it dropped to -3C and the feral dogs most travelers to Tibet know so well were out in spades. In our under-rated sleeping bags (20C), my traveling companion and I tried to stay warm by clinging both to each other and a giant water bottle we appropriated from the kitchen tent. </p>  <p>That night the winds and rain were wild. The rain turned to sleet and then to snow. Around midnight the dogs emerged from wherever they lie during the day, their insanity punctuated by their utterly psychotic AR AR AR AR AR staccato of a bark. They came down to our camp and were circling all of the tents. Stupidly, we camped away from the others to get a better view of the lake. It doesn't take much to imagine what sorts of fates we were conjuring up for ourselves. </p>  <p>So consider this scene if you will — two people huddled in a sleeping bag with a giant water bottle, one person, me, holding a small pocket knife, ready if need be to decimate any intruding rabid dog with folding scissors or a corkscrew, my companion remaining admirably calm despite her having no weapon. The dogs closing in, AR AR AR AR AR AR, circling and circling around the tent. This continuing indefinitely. Why indefinitely? Because I fell asleep. Like a lullaby, their chanting and the whiplike horrible noises of the outer tent layer in the storm combined with a particularly wonderful (indeed, very soft) sleep aid given to me by a Frenchman in our group, worked a strange voodoo on me. And neither the cold nor the prospect of death by dog could pull me from slumber. </p>  <p>Upon awaking the next morning — both uneaten and unfrozen — this is the scene we were greeted with. The storm, the cold combined to dust the surrounding mountains with a beautiful sheet of white. Undoubtably, just for me to photograph. </p>
<p>Prayer flags blowing in the wind on the outskirts of Namtso Lake. You can just see the lake peeking through at the bottom.</p>  <p>This was the morning after the storm. One of our fellow camp companions from France had brought with him several gourmet approximations of mashed potato mix. He also was carrying, in small Muji vials, various high-quality salts, vinegars and dressings. We feasted on this potato and salt and vinegar mix in a small cafe near the lake. Upon emerging from the hut — smelling of yak butter and with smiling taste buds — we spent time climbing up and around the nearest mountain. Which is where these flags were hung. </p>  <p>Noteworthy Tibet related news:</p>  <p><a href=
<p>A photographer and two monks in the morning Lhasa sunlight. Taken from the window of a fourth floor room in the Yak Hotel. </p>
<p>Three children on the steps outside of a mosque in Lhasa.</p>  <p>It should be noted that the middle child is gawking at my traveling companion who, that particular day (and never again, it turned out) decided to wear her shortest skirt — perfectly acceptable in a metropolis such as Tokyo or Shanghai, but something of a novelty, or perhaps more accurately, sin, in the incredibly explosive (in a good way) and intense muslim community located in the south of the Tibetan portion of Lhasa. Granted, we hadn't decided at the beginning of that day to visit the muslim quarter. Indeed we all but stumbled upon it as we were wandering — the quarter appearing so suddenly. </p>  <p>We entered a small restaurant near the mosque looking for a traditional muslim meal and the boy, late teens maybe, who greeted us at the door (the restaurant being simple and cheap and very much like most all other eateries in Lhasa) all but ejaculated on himself. My companion appearing fully and nakedly legged in this traditional muslim establishment was probably tantamount to a woman entering a diner in Mississippi with nothing but a ziplock bag covering each breast. </p>  <p>After eating, I made my traveling provocateur wait outside the gates of the mosque — her being wonderfully oblivious to the mayhem her outfit was causing — while I went inside and photographed. When I returned, she had befriended these children, but I don't think they ever knew what to make of her. </p>
<p>Above: A bicycle in the Muslim quarter of Lhasa</p>
<p>Artifacts of monkdom 1: red telephone</p> <p>Contrary to popular misconception, Tibetan Buddhist monks <em>do</em> have red telephones and ash trays on the love seat of their window sill. </p>  <p>Which is to say I was quite surprised when I saw the above red telephone in the room of <a href=
<p>Artifacts of monkdom 2: bookcase</p>  <p>In light of recent riots and protests involving Tibetan monks and the Chinese government, looking back it's far more surprising to note that on a pillar (not pictured) in the center of the room there was a photograph of the current <a href=
<p>A child in a doorway looking downward on a backstreet in Lhasa.</p>
<p>Looking off a ridge towards Namtso Lake. Time: early morning after a night of snowfall.</p>
<p>A cloud as seen from Beijing Central Road, Lhasa, July 2007.</p>
Two young monks invite me into their living quarters at Drepung monastery west of Lhasa.
<p>Two women spinning a giant <a href=
<p>An image from the second floor of the <a href=
<p><a href=
<p>A monk walking through Drepung Monastery. It's hard not to think of Drepung as a city unto itself — with its castle like architecture, labyrinthine passages, nooks, corners and the bustle of everyday life of the monks.</p>
<p>Driving out into the mountains north east of Lhasa, a small shack, power lines and the always powerful Tibetan sky.</p>
<p>After 2 hours of the most awkward of rides on a small bus packed full of pilgrims, people and babies and old women flowing into the isles, everyone compressed, a million stares, a Tokyo rush-hour train dance in all directions, this view emerged. From behind a small mountain-side temple, prayer flags and the valley below. </p>
<p>Two travelers and a local girl on the edge of <a href=
<p>The first rays of sunlight hitting the valley floor a few hours northeast of Lhasa. A string of prayer flags intersects the top half of the image. </p>
<p>Four Tibetan nuns. Their nunnery was close to our base camp around 18,000 feet. They were wary of me (being smelly and male) but absolutely smitten by my travel companion — clinging to her and holding her hand and hugging her incessantly. They fed us yak butter milk tea, which approximates the taste of drinking a vat of popcorn smothered in artificial butter. Yet tradition states one much drink several cups, so we forced the liquid down into our poor stomachs.</p>
Jiro-san, hand on mouth
Jiro's hand
Jiro-san
Jiro and his son
Jiro-san, hand on face
Son
Son, in a rare fit of laughter
Shiro-san, from Seattle
Shiro-san
Shiro-san and Jiro-san
Shiro-san
Taiichi-san, from Seattle, trained by Shiro-san