I’m writing from the comfort of the Kyichu Hotel about a block from the Potala Palace, in the core of Lhasa.

For those who were hoping for up to the minute facebook or twitter, those are stone cold blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Wikipedia’s list of similarly blocked sites is an eye opener. I mean, who has a really good reason for blocking Amnesty International?

The trip is going quite well. In both Chengdu and here, we met our guides with no problem. The hotels are nice, and the arrangements all appear pretty straightforward.

Last night, we found Ma Po Tofu in its native environment. Apparently one of my favorite Chinese dishes was invented in Chengdu. Ordering was a bit of a trip. When I’m higher bandwidth, I’ll upload a bunch of pictures (flikr is blocked too). For those not in the know, Ma Po Tofu is a fiendishly spicy, peppery concoction. This was (according to Jen), “face numbing,” and even I had to admit that it was pretty intense. Fortunately, we had lots of hot tea to cut the burn.

The altitude change, coupled with jet lag, is no joke. Jen and I were both rendered a little woozy after breaking into a quick jog to get across a street. I had to pause, pulse thumping, after having the nerve to walk up to the 2nd floor rather than taking the elevator. Seriously, the nerve of me. For a cleaner metric, my usual resting pulse is around 55 beats per minute. Here, after a good half hour of sitting calmly in a chair, I’m running around 65 or 70.

Plan for the evening is to chill in the room, and perhaps to nap. Later on (it stays light very late here, all of China runs on Beijing time) we may go and check out the Potala. Tomorrow, we’ll hit a bank to change money, and then begin sightseeing in ernest.

In a bit of nerd-chest-thumping, I will mention that this blog post was written from a netbook in Tibet, and is being served to you from a virtual machine hosted in my basement. Booyah!

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