My lab has two other PhD students.  One of them took most of the month of August off so that he could go home (the Sichuan province in China) to visit his friends and family.  What I didn't know was that for two weeks of his trip back home he traveled to Lhasa, Tibet from Chengdu, China.  So cool and amazing!  We spent some of the morning looking at his pictures that he took.

It's incredible because he took a bus (well, many buses) along mountain roads to get there.  It's over 2000km away (about 1,242 miles).  Many of the roads are along steep mountain cliffs–and there have been buses that have tumbled down the steep slope where no passengers survive.  Every Spring thaw causes portions of the road to be washed away in landslides and sometimes large boulders fall from the mountains, crushing the trail, damaging the flat road (from impact) and making it impassable.  At certain points he said that the bus was delayed for up to 8 hours while they literally had workers clearing the boulders or making a flat path among rubble so that the bus would be able to drive over it.

What's amazing is that only he, as a Chinese citizen, could take that trip.  Foreigners are not allowed on these mountain passes.  Why?  Because these are the only supply routes to Lhasa.  This is how the Chinese government controls what goes in and out of Tibet.  Sure other supplies can be flown, but you can't fly literally tons of concrete or gravel for roads.  The bridges on these roads are controlled by the Chinese military.  You aren't even supposed to be able to take pictures of the bridge–in case there are terrorist or political plots.  (Free Tibet!)  If the bridge gets destroyed, then that pass is blocked and that supply route is closed for an in determined amount of time.

But we all know that the point is that I have a pretty new bracelet from Tibet.  Yay, me.

Sorry about the quality of the photo.  It's my first camera phone post!  Exciting!

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