"HOW TO CLIMB THE POTALA WITHOUT PASSING OUT" Personal Page by mavl
the potala, the building that inspired the legend of shangri-la, is half the reason i've always dreamed of visiting tibet. the other half, of course, is tintin. i read tintin in tibet when i was very young and have since been hooked (to both tintin as well as tibet).
in order to fully appreciate the beauty and historical significance of this architectural gem, one must first negotiate the seemingly endless stairs to the top - an especially difficult undertaking given the thin air at lhasa's 12,000ft. elevation.
THE FOLLOWING IS A SERIES OF TIPS TO HELP ONE SAFELY COMPLETE THIS CLIMB:
1. before you visit the potala, make sure that you do not stay out late the night before because you went dancing in a disco called babila (probably the only one in lhasa) with two fantastic looking girls from chengdu whom you met while touring drepung monastery earlier that day, all the while ingesting copious amounts of alcohol and straining your back in the process because you didn't remove your backpack while attempting to dance hiphop for fear that it might get stolen as there was quite a crowd, mainly students in their late teens and professionals in their early twenties, rocking the joint, whew!!! (that was meant to be a rambling sentence).
all the more true if the last time you set foot inside a disco was a whole decade ago and before any of your pathetic knee injuries.
2. upon arriving, immediately seek out good looking tourists of the opposite sex (or the same sex - whatever floats your boat) and befriend them in the hopes that they'll agree to climb up with you.
these good looking companions will be crucial in getting your body to produce the necessary amounts of adrenalin that will hopefully keep you going all the way up.
3. constantly ask them to take your picture. give them the reason that you live in a skeptical society wherein photographic proof of your travels is mandatory in getting your friends to believe you were actually there.
in reality, this is an excellent ploy to afford yourself more opportunities to catch your breath without looking like a wimp.
it is equally important during these picture-taking stops to always rest your hand on something (like a wall) and get them to think that it's your favorite pose. this will aid in keeping yourself steady during the bouts of dizziness you're sure to have thanks to your disco-dancing and drinking exploits the previous night.
4. do not look up.
doing so will surely result in your falling over backwards and taking the entire contingent of cute koreans in the immediate vicinity down the mountain with you.
5. for the men: drink lots of water the entire way up.
for the women: drink only when it is absolutely necessary. trust me, you wouldn't want to use the toilets inside the potala (please refer to travelogue entitled "more locals" on my lhasa page).
(please note that i've kept the pretty tourists of the opposite sex close by until now to ensure that my adrenalin levels are adequate)
(please also note that, at this point, i also have them stopping for pictures every third step of the way)
6. upon reaching the main entrance at the top, make sure you breathe deeply for several minutes but not too deeply that everyone around you will notice you're on the verge of collapse.
saying you're suffering from an asthma attack even though you don't have asthma is a good way of excusing your suddenly pale complexion and your slumping over in one corner for ten whole minutes.
once inside, always ask your guide to repeat his spiel in every room feigning difficulty in hearing - the slower you go, the more likely you'll make it out of there alive.
7. after touring the potala and slowly making your way down, i recommend that you find an appropriate spot to finally pass out. the garden at potala square just in front of the potala is a convenient place.
just make sure you ask your guide to keep taking pictures of you while you're lying down so that passers-by do not call emergency medical services - unless, of course, you want them to do so.
*should this guide not be enough to safely get you to the top of the potala (can't imagine why it shouldn't), the tibetan phrase for help is ROG NANG-DA*
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