Why You Should Travel to Tibet

Story and Photographs by Shane Ness

“Jokhang was an interesting combination of smells, colours, faces and sentiments. I felt blessed to be so close to the heart beat of Buddhism and yet so saddened by the annihilation”

Alisa Gwyn, Sydney Australia

TatteredPassport, Tibet,

View of Lhasa from the Potala Palace

Why Tibet? Isn’t it dangerous? It’s not the real Tibet anymore. These thoughts did play a part in my decision to visit, but not in the way they were intended. I wanted to visit Tibet to see what is really going on there, I wanted to see the Tibet as it is today, with all its beauty, destruction and sadness however what I got, was much more than that.


Walking The Jokhang

I was on an organised tour with Intrepid Travel, we met our crew in Kathmandu, Nepal the day before we would enter Tibet. We had our own reasons, however one rang true, we want to see it for ourselves.

We hadn’t been in Tibet for long, before we started to see the effects of the occupation. On our visit to the Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace we were quickly aware that we were being watched.

“We were even aware of one of the cameras following us around the room”.

Samantha Stocks an editor from Somerset England said.

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Intrepid Travellers in traditional Dress

Samantha, her husband Elliot and fellow Intrepid traveller Lauren had just been persuaded to wear traditional dress, by two Tibetan ladies who were hiring the clothes for tourist to try on.

“They were very charismatic ladies! Friendly and smiling. I enjoyed the interaction with the women who helped us to dress in the garments, and I hoped that the money we gave them would stay directly in their hands and not find its way into the Chinese government’s”. Samantha Stocks.

As we walked around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, I noticed Alisa sitting with a monk.


The Jokhang and the Tattoo

“I have a line out of the Tibetan script tattooed on my forearm. He sore my arm, reached for a pen in his bag and finished off the rest of that particular chapter in the Tibetan script”

What does your Tattoo say?

“Boundless compassion, Love and kindness”


Intrepid Travellers walking the Kora

It is this love and compassion that the Tibetan people have, even with all the destruction and oppression they have suffered that has changed the way that I see everything. When I asked my tour if they would suggest Tibet to their friends, the answer, did not surprise me,

“I would, and I wonder whether the only thing that will really keep the Tibetan culture alive in Tibet in any form is tourism. But I would like to see more literature on responsible tourism in Tibet, so that tourists can ensure that their money goes into the hands of Tibetans for the most part” Samantha Stocks

“Yes YES ANDDDDDDD ABSOLUTELY! Before it’s completely nothing more than a country encased by a false pretence” Alisa Gwyn.

Inside Tibet: The Tibetan Holy Mother Speaks To Me.

I wake to the sound of Yaks mooing, and prayer bells ringing, I wake to the smell of fresh snow and the Yak dung fire mixed with the smell of juniper incense drifting from the near by Rongbuk Monastery, its a uniquely Tibetan smell. I wander outside, the air is thin and the sky is so blue. I stand still in awe of Chomolungma I stand still for I am in the presence of the Holy Mother.

Tattered Passport, Tibet

Holy Mother.

I struggle to find words to describe this morning, the beauty I see before me, high mountains, covered in snow, glistening in the early morning sun, a few yaks are awake early, you can hear their bells ringing as they wander around the field. My head starts to fill with many emotions. I feel the pain of every Tibetan that I have met. I feel love towards these beautifully peaceful people and an unhealthy anger. I fight the anger off, anger is not something I want to dwell inside me. I feel peace and a feeling something like being trapped. I am confused but with a sense of clarity. I open my eyes and I see Chomolungma, I am grounded again. I return to the lodge, unable to understand what just happened.

Sun rise over The Holy Mother

Sun rise over The Holy Mother


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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,


Inside Tibet: The Holy Mother, Daily Vlog: 43

I listen to the sounds of the himalayas, the Yaks mooing, the bells ringing from the near by Rongbuk Monastery, a dog barking in the distance, this is Tibet, this is Chomolungma “Holy Mother” this is Mt Everest.

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Chomolungma “Holy Mother” Mt Everest

Three weeks ago I was in  Gorak Shep, Nepal at the summit of Kala-Patthar standing at 5545m watching the sun rise over Mt Everest. Today I watch the sun shining over Mt Everest in Tibet.

The valley was covered in a deep layer of freshly laid snow, sparkling in the sun light, it was so beautiful, it was as if some kind of higher being had designed the perfect landscape for us to see. Carefully placing every snow flake, every Yak, every prayer flag and every ring of the prayer bells. I find myself quite in amongst the grand valley, the Holy Mother standing tall, looking over Tibet. I wonder what the “Holy Mother” thinks about what is going on in Tibet, how does the conflict make her feel? How does this grand mountain, the centre of many adventurers challenges, feel about the destruction and death through out Tibet?


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Peace Out,


Inside Tibet: Dalai Lama Summer Palace, Paranoia.

Daily Vlog: 38

Since being in Tibet I have been struggling with the amount of Chinese military control over the local Tibetan People. This suppression extends so far into daily life it affects everyone. Little things like signs for shops are written in large Chinese characters with tiny Tibetan characters underneath, to young tibetan people not allowed to visit and worship at temples. The constant reminder that China has taken over Tibet is depressing. Today I get a little annoyed and suddenly very aware that I am being watched almost 24hrs a day.

Tattered Passport Tibet

Norbulingka UNSECO

We visit the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and I am instantly shocked. As you walk up to this once spiritual home of the Tibetan Buddhist leader you are confronted by huge LCD screen pumping out loud Chinese music. Once inside I feel calm mixed with a sense I am being watched. Every where i look i see a camera, they are everywhere and I mean everywhere, on every corner of the main wall, every walkway even in the gardens. I can see our guide feeling uneasy here, she is aware that her every move is bing watched and anything she does can be used against her and her family.


We arrive at the Dalai Lama’s Palace, the last place that the current 14th Dalai Lama lived before he fled to India. There was no surprise here, plenty of cameras outside, but what shocked me and made me nervous was waiting inside. We were in one of the rooms, completely aware that we were getting watched by cameras every step, but what shocked me was one specific camera. I spotted this camera that would move about, it was looking around the room, this was not odd, what was odd was when it spotted me. I remember nudging my friend and whispered to him, do you think that camera is following me? I may sound a little paranoid but it was looking straight at me, with these two eyes. So I walked around a little to look at another painting in the room. I look up and again it was looking straight at me, almost trying to read my mind, looking straight at me. I looked back at my friends and they all had seen it as well. I thought to myself, surely not, so I tried again, I walked around the room a few times and every time this camera followed me. I was certain that I was being watched and that I had been picked out of the crowed of tourist in the room to keep an eye on. I couldn’t stop thinking that there was someone in a room somewhere controlling that camera, some one was watching me. This is only one time, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to the Tibetan people to be watched like they are, to know that there is someone watching your every move, controlling what you see and what you do, we could never understand how this affects your well being.


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Canggu Nuns



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I would love to hear your thoughts on the Tibet situation. What have you heard, have you been to Tibet? Have you experienced these same situations?

Inside Lhasa. Daily Vlog: 36

Daily Vlog: 36

Today is my first full day in Tibet and some of our tour groups first day at altitude, which at 3800m was showing on a few of them. We were scheduled to stay in Lhasa for 2 days to acclimatise to the altitude. I was lucky as I have just returned from hiking in Nepal so I have already been at altitude so I could get straight into exploring Lhasa.

Tattered Passport Tibet

Preparing your dinner

We wondered the streets and found our way to the Barkhor  Square where one of the most important temples in Tibet is located, The Jokhang. We were instantly confronted by the large Chinese military presence. As we walked around the corner into Barkhor Square the first thing that I saw were two very large and scary looking military vehicles. They kind of looked liked the bullet proof vehicle from Fast and Furious. There was some sort of very big gun mounted to the roof, next to them were a bunch of Chinese military personnel all holding machine guns. To enter into the Barkhor Square we had to go through a X-Ray scanner controlled by Chinese military. I was a little nervous as I put my bag on the conveyor belt. I new that I didn’t have anything that was illegal, but I had no idea how I would be treated here. Turns out I was very surprised as they hardly even looked at our stuff and just waved us through.

Tattered Passport, Tibet

New and Old motorbikes in Tibet

As we walked around this spiritual place you could feel the energy of the local people. There was incense burning and flooding the area with a smell of peace, you had old tibetan people prostrating, chanting prayers, tibetan flags draped over the walk. It was beautiful, it was peaceful, then 6 Chinese military come marching through the crowd, in the opposite direction to all the Tibetans, all dressed in full black riot gear, complete with helmets and face masks and holding what looked like AK47’s. Traditionally Tibetans walk clockwise around the temple, however the Chinese military walk in an anticlockwise direction, seemingly in attempt the disrupt the local people. The Tibetans stand strong in the face of this, however you can see the pain in there eyes, they are not free. A small group of us stopped to talk to an old Tibetan lady, which one of our group took a photo of her. As we were showing her the photo we almost immediately had a group of military personnel surrounding us and moving us on. I was rather shocked by how confronting it was to walk around the Jokhang.


Tattered Passport, Tibet

Barkhor Square Prayer Flags


That night we found a bar that had some live music so we wandered in and had a great night. The music was great and the atmosphere in the bar was great. The guy was singing a huge mix of songs all acoustic, including what sounded like a Tibetan pop song. We were even treated to local dialect version of an Eminem rap.


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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.


Inside Tibet: Daily Vlog 35

Inside Tibet

Today I realise one of my lifelong dreams, today I reach a destination that has held my dreams, a place that has intrigued me for so long, today I reach Tibet.

I have no idea what awaits me, as a westerner I can only read articles about what is going on there, but how much of that can I really believe? How much of the stories that make headlines back here in Australia can I actually believe? What have the journalist from around the world been allowed to see and talk about?  My plan was to go and see this country for myself. See it with my own eyes and make my own mind up. What I saw amazed me, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got, well please watch the next two weeks of my Tibet Vlogs to see what I saw, to see Inside Tibet.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.