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Thread: Tibet Trip

  1. #1

    Default Tibet Trip

    Hi Fellow CSers,

    I will be going for a 15 days trip to TIbet with friends this coming sept to oct. Out route is Chengdu-Tibet-Kathmandu..
    But most of the trip would be in Tibet.. I want to seek for advice as I'm new to this kinda of weather (as in very new never been to any cold place). What sort of things do i need to bring? any recommendation.. For the camera and lenses, Im planning to bring 24-70 and 70-200.. should i bring as well the 17-40 and drop the 24-70? please advice..

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rig81 View Post
    Hi Fellow CSers,

    I will be going for a 15 days trip to TIbet with friends this coming sept to oct. Out route is Chengdu-Tibet-Kathmandu..
    But most of the trip would be in Tibet.. I want to seek for advice as I'm new to this kinda of weather (as in very new never been to any cold place). What sort of things do i need to bring? any recommendation.. For the camera and lenses, Im planning to bring 24-70 and 70-200.. should i bring as well the 17-40 and drop the 24-70? please advice..

    What body are you carrying, FF or crop?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by frozentomtom View Post
    What body are you carrying, FF or crop?
    I'm carrying a 5D mark 2 body with me..

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    The altitude will take some getting used to and you'll be be out of breath at the slightest exertion. I remember just carrying my luggage upstairs to the 2nd floor made me puff as though I had run a marathon! You should carry as light a load as possible. In Tibet, you will probably be taking lots of landscapes, architecture and perhaps portraits. Your choice of 24-70mm and 70-200mm should be good enough. In fact, a single 24-105mm might do the trick also. Remember to bring your flash for indoor shots...it can get very dark inside the temples/monasteries.

    As for non-photography gear, the air can be dry and cold. Don't forget to pack moisturiser and chap stick, else your skin/lips might crack. Other stuff to pack: a small flashlight, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat, scarf, gloves, axe brand oil (for the dirty toilets if anything!), panadol, charcoal pills, your own toilet rolls. Remember to buy travel insurance in case you need emergency evacuation to lower altitude in case of severe altitude sickness (no treatment for this).

    Have a good trip!

  5. #5
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Hello Rig81.

    May I offer just some of my humble suggestions, having been to Tibet a couple of times, and Kathmandu on one of these trips too.

    Weather

    September to October is a good time for Tibet, for the weather is still not too cold. Cool. 10+ degrees daytime.
    May be a little misty in the distant. Thus you may find some of the distant peaks shrouded in mist.
    Although altitude illness can affect anyone, any age, don't be too daunted by it. Most healthy individuals will get used to it.
    If you would like to, get your Doctor to prescribe you some Diamox tablets to prevent AMS.
    Kathmandu should pose as no problem, weather wise, as it will be cool at that time.

    Crowd
    Sounds like your trip will be over the Golden week period - China's Big Public holiday from 1st October.
    Phew... your train trip from Chengdu to Lhasa, and your visit to Lhasa will be crowded with local travellers, especially in the Potala Palace and the major monasteries.
    I did my first trip just before October started, and it was already packed.
    Kathmandu is beautifully crowded, especially Thamel. Very enjoyable.

    Protective Gears
    As sxi86 rightfully mentioned, bring your sunblock, moisturising lip gloss, and Sunglasses.
    A parka is important if you intend to travel through Tingri through Zhangmu all the way to Nepal.
    (Well, sounds like you are going to travel by land from Tibet to Nepal, aren't you?)
    This is because as you pass by Gyantse and Tingri, especially if you intend to go to Everest base-camp, it could be a little snowy.
    Have a good pair of mountain shoes - Columbia, Timberland are generally great.

    Toiletries
    I particularly agree with sxi86's suggestion on the axe oil and own toilet paper.
    We did that and were glad we did because we often had to relief ourselves in the 'open'.

    Camera
    Your 5DMkII is perfectly suited for the magnificent landscape photography and interior photography inside the monasteries.
    Many of the monasteries are dark, with only candle light and some sky-light filtering in as ambient lighting.
    Personally I found myself using a lot of high ISO up to 3200 confidently with my 5DMkII then. You will need that.
    Also, don't worry about paying the oft-required RMB 20 yuan for photography in the monasteries. It is only a few Singapore Dollars but the images you will capture will be something you'll never find elsewhere.

    Lenses
    This is a very subjective section.
    My first trip I was simply using an EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6. It was simply disappointing indoors due to the narrow aperture.
    Second trip, I made full use of my 16-35mm f/2.8 all the way indoors as the f/2.8 was crucial. This is because I prefer not to use flash, but rather to capture the ambient atmosphere.
    The 16-35mm was important also for many of my landscape shots - Tibet & Nepal alike.
    The 70-200mm was used a lot for my portrait shots of the local Tibetans and Nepalese.
    In fact, the least used was my 24-70mm.
    Still, the choice of lenses is totally up to the individual.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    you have got very sound advise from sxi86 and limwhow. I used to lived and work in Lhasa for 2 and a half years, 20 odd years ago. I am surprise that the monasteries and temples now charge 20 yuan for pictures, it use to be no photography. I concur with linwhow choice of lenses, 16-35 f2.8 and 70-200. Great if you are also doing the overland to Kathmandu, stopover at the Everest base camp is great. best is the plateau a day before reaching Zhangmu, you will see the peaks of Himalayas all around you. I still had great pictures during my stay there, unfortunately no digital cameras then. Happy holidays.
    Chris
    5D2 / 5D3 / 16-35 2.8L II USM / 24-70 2.8L / 100 2.8L IS Macro/ 70-200 2.8L IS

  7. #7

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Me going Tibet this coming Sept. Thanks limwhow & sxi86 for share the info...(sorry to hijack
    your thread and thanks for starting a thread like this).

    I find that this info is particulary useful as I intend to bring a wide angle and tele lens along.
    With this info I am more firm with my decision.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    To all who gave me advise.. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.. i really appreciate it.. Its really helpful..
    Just have some question... I'm a filipino and a resident of singapore.. I wonder if its difficult to get a visa and permit to tibet and nepal. SInce i will be travelling with my friend from china.. so basically i would be getting a guided trip.. any advice?

  9. #9
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rig81 View Post
    To all who gave me advise.. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.. i really appreciate it.. Its really helpful..
    Just have some question... I'm a filipino and a resident of singapore.. I wonder if its difficult to get a visa and permit to tibet and nepal. SInce i will be travelling with my friend from china.. so basically i would be getting a guided trip.. any advice?
    Rig81, you are not a citizen of Singapore, I presume?
    For you, travelling to Tibet requires another permit (in addition to the visa you need to apply for to travel to China).
    This is because of the political sensitivity of that region.
    Your friends from China do not count as guides for you, a foreigner.
    You need to engage a Travel agency either from Singapore, or one from Chengdu to do the following:

    • apply for permits for you to be travelling in Tibet.
    • apply for additional special permits for you to visit certain monasteries.
      Thus your itinerary must be already planned for the agency to know exactly where you will be going to.
    • to indicate to the authority who is your designated guide.
      Yes, you need a licensed guide (remember, your China friends don't count) who will be bringing you to wherever you will be going to.
      In Tibet, you are not allowed to just walk around and wander on your own (in theory).
      After the March 2008 unrest, the security has been beefed up tremendously. Compared with 3 years plus ago, there are many armed Military police (uniformed and non-uniformed) patrolling Lhasa nowadays. Don't be seen photographing them or you risk trouble.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by limwhow View Post
    Rig81, you are not a citizen of Singapore, I presume?
    For you, travelling to Tibet requires another permit (in addition to the visa you need to apply for to travel to China).
    This is because of the political sensitivity of that region.
    Your friends from China do not count as guides for you, a foreigner.
    You need to engage a Travel agency either from Singapore, or one from Chengdu to do the following:

    • apply for permits for you to be travelling in Tibet.
    • apply for additional special permits for you to visit certain monasteries.
      Thus your itinerary must be already planned for the agency to know exactly where you will be going to.
    • to indicate to the authority who is your designated guide.
      Yes, you need a licensed guide (remember, your China friends don't count) who will be bringing you to wherever you will be going to.
      In Tibet, you are not allowed to just walk around and wander on your own (in theory).
      After the March 2008 unrest, the security has been beefed up tremendously. Compared with 3 years plus ago, there are many armed Military police (uniformed and non-uniformed) patrolling Lhasa nowadays. Don't be seen photographing them or you risk trouble.
    So Thus it mean i can't just apply for a permit and visa and go together with my china friend during the tour? is there any way aside from joining a group tour? say, i'll go for a Travel agency for a group toour and when i iarrive there, i will go as what i planned/schedule? is it possible?

  11. #11
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rig81 View Post
    So Thus it mean i can't just apply for a permit and visa and go together with my china friend during the tour? is there any way aside from joining a group tour? say, i'll go for a Travel agency for a group toour and when i iarrive there, i will go as what i planned/schedule? is it possible?
    Yes, like what you have raised cleverly, sometimes what some people do is - they will sign up with a local tour agency and be issued with the permits and papers stating that they have this so and so named license guide to be with them.
    But what they do once they reached Tibet is up to them. As long as one doesn't get checked by the police there.

    My personal experience - there was once we came to a check point on one of the roads between one town and another.
    And we had to get down and my guide bring us and our papers to the police in the check point building.
    There was some problem with the papers - and we had lots of trouble then. But I think my guide must have done something there and then, and we were finally through.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    not only the Tibet permit (入藏证), you also need the guide to register you when you visit certain county/village/cities... not to mention the checkpoint if you are going to Everest base camp.
    not sure if you can really do without a tour guide - even if you visit Potala Palace, the tickets need to be booked the day before, so having a guide will be more convenient.

  13. #13
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by muzikbug View Post
    not only the Tibet permit (入藏证), you also need the guide to register you when you visit certain county/village/cities... not to mention the checkpoint if you are going to Everest base camp.
    not sure if you can really do without a tour guide - even if you visit Potala Palace, the tickets need to be booked the day before, so having a guide will be more convenient.
    Yupe.
    Maybe it's better not to take that risk, knowing how sticky situations are in Tibet.

  14. #14
    Senior Member asterixsg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    sorry to hijack your thread, rig81...

    sxi86 and limwhow,
    you've provided some very useful information which will come in handy for me too. I didn't quite get what's the axe brand oil for...

    thanks, in advance.
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt....

  15. #15
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by asterixsg View Post
    sorry to hijack your thread, rig81...

    sxi86 and limwhow,
    you've provided some very useful information which will come in handy for me too. I didn't quite get what's the axe brand oil for...

    thanks, in advance.
    You are welcome, asterixsg.
    The axe oil or tiger balm or whatever ointment would come in useful because one will need to use them to camouflage the pungent smell of excreta/urine when:

    • in toilets that are long in-need of some massive cleaning, commonly in some older monasteries in towns further away from Lhasa. An e.g. is the notoriously smelly urine at Pelkor Chorten Monastery in Gyantse.
    • we want to relief ourselves in the open. But many of these open-top toilets build of stone blocks have no outlets and are piled high with faeces. An example is the famous one at the lake Yamdrok Tso.
    • When we are truly in the open - just apply the ointment to our nose and let go of everything, and run after that.
    Last edited by limwhow; 10th July 2010 at 11:05 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member asterixsg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Thanks limwhow, for the detailed explanation

    I've experienced similar 'toilets' in Xinjiang and also when I went hiking on the Great Wall.

    A scarf to cover my nose did the trick for me. But I'll keep the tip on axe oil in mind.

    Thanks, once again. Let's continue the discussion on Tibet. I have vested interest in that too :-)

    Cheers.
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt....

  17. #17

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Goshh!!! i'm starting to get worried now.. because maybe i can't go with her... Is there any legal way aside from travel agent? please i badly need your reply and experience guys...

  18. #18
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Rig81 View Post
    Goshh!!! i'm starting to get worried now.. because maybe i can't go with her... Is there any legal way aside from travel agent? please i badly need your reply and experience guys...
    Well, Rig81, like what several of the CSers have mentioned on this thread, it is almost necessary (mandatory) to have a guide.
    Even when just two of us went on our first Tibet trip, we had to have a licensed guide with us throughout our trip.
    Now it's even stricter, I believe.

    On our last trip, while walking along Barkhor outside Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, we saw two young, handsome Singaporean men strolling on their own with their backpacks, amongst patrols after patrols of military police in green (武警) and security police in blue (公安).
    This is not impossible. Because even when our guide goes back to rest in the evening, we can still roam about on our own in the city.
    But when you visit the main monasteries, you need to purchase tickets (in fact, almost ALL major monasteries will need ticket), and that is when your guide and the necessary papers must be present.
    And like one of the CSers mentioned, when you travel from town to town, passing check points, again the guide will be of utmost importance.

    No point going all the way to Tibet only to find yourself not being able to visit the various important sights nor pass through to Nepal, right?

    Still, do ask your China friend to check with the local travel agencies.
    Perhaps there might be some other ways unknown to us.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    i am based in hang zhou for work.
    i am also keen on the trip and people in sg tell me i need to get a permit
    but when asked my colleagues about permits and they claim it's not true.
    they reply was why do you need a permit when you are within china.

  20. #20
    Senior Member limwhow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tibet Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by DuoMaxwell View Post
    i am based in hang zhou for work.
    i am also keen on the trip and people in sg tell me i need to get a permit
    but when asked my colleagues about permits and they claim it's not true.
    they reply was why do you need a permit when you are within china.
    DuoMaxwell, it is very good of you to come onto this thread and share with us your experience.
    I am sure not only is the TS interested in this matter, there are many others in Singapore and around the region who are also keen to know about this Visa and Permit matters.

    My personal experiences and similarly those of my friends and associates who have done the trip are:

    1. As Singaporean (or foreigners of China), we have a 14 days visa (签证)for travel to China, exceeding which we will be penalised and/or fined.
    2. We are also required to have a Tibet Entry Permit (入藏许可证 or often known as 批件) to visit Tibet and the various sights.


    As you are based in Hangzhou, may I ask if it is possible for you to check with the local agency about foreigners visiting Tibet (its major cities, towns, major tourist sights and monasteries including Potala Palace/Jokhang Temple and such)?
    Of course, at your convenience.

    Incidentally, this site TravelChinaGuide.com which I often refer to for information, has an interesting discussion here on Entry Permit to Tibet (click this link).
    Perhaps check out this page as there is some very pertinent discussions there.

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