If you are at a crosswalk and you get a green light to cross the street, only about half of the drivers will stop. To make it more hazardous, none of the bus drivers will stop.
You may think that you are safe on a side walk, but cars often will come at you while the driver looks for a convenient place to park or to drop off or pickup passengers. We had as many close calls on a sidewalk as we did on the streets.
-Hotels in China have a lot of preparation to do in anticipation of the Olympics next year. The staff of the hotels that we stayed at inevitably tried to please; however, very few spoke a language other than Chinese, so confusion and complication were inevitable. In Lhasa, we made a few simple requests of the front desk, like can we have vouchers for breakfast that were included in our room rate or did they have the phone number of the CITS office that paid them for our rooms. Each time, we asked a question, they would look at us for awhile, dial the phone, and hand it to us. On the phone, was a polite man, who asked us what we wanted, then instructed us to give the phone back to the person at reception, whom he told what it was that we needed. We never met this man or saw him at the hotel. He was just the voice behind the curtain with whom we must deal to get things done at the hotel. We referred to him as "The Great OZ".
It was quite common in hotels for someone on the hotel staff to knock on your door and then open it and look around. In one hotel, it occurred every day between 5 and 6pm. A woman would knock on the door, use her key to enter the room with a clipboard, apologize and then leave. In other hotels we would get the knock and enter early in the morning or late at night when we would be in bed. I would dead bolt my door to prevent their entry, but my brother had a floor attendant come into his room at 5:30 AM to deliver the days breakfast voucher. She walked in, put the voucher on the desk and left without a word, Twice, after 11 pm, when I was sound asleep, a hotel employee was prevented from entering my room by the dead bolt or chain. Once, I found a breakfast voucher slid in behind the light switch.
If they were not entering our rooms, we would get mysterious late night phone calls. When we would answer, the caller would hang up. We asked a Canadian man in the hotel if he got these calls as well. He said that he did. His Chinese traveling companions explained to him that the hotel staff would sell their guest list to a local "massage service" who would start to call guests when the last hotel manager would leave for the day.
Checking out would often take as much as 20 minutes. Even though the hotels had PCs they would also keep their records manually in ledgers. All paperwork was done in triplicate, then filed. The guest would then be presented with a bill that was indecipherable, unexplainable, and the columns of debits and credits seldom made sense. We just tried to be close when paying the bill.
- At a market one afternoon, I stumbled upon a dog butcher. The set up was similar to the Dumb Friends League. You could view the dogs and make your selection. But rather than taking home a new pet, you took home dinner. This occupation would not be acceptable at home.
-Chinese slit toilets on a moving train can provide a great deal of adventure.
-One afternoon, around the main courtyard of the Potola Palace, which was under repair, we heard the singing of Tibetan songs. We thought that it was probably a demonstration of traditional music by one of the ethnic groups that regularly come into Lhasa from the hinterlands. To our delight, it was the construction crew. Around the roof of the courtyard there were well over 100 people mostly woman in rows of 10 to 20 across and 5 deep, singing, dancing and tapping sticks on the roof. The sticks had pads tied to them. While singing, the dancing and tapping was packing down freshly laid cement. More construction sites should have choreographers.