Episode 071: Welcome To Tibet

Visas…They’re Everywhere You Want To Be. Would you believe we finally made it onto our plane to Lhasa, Tibet? The flight itself was uneventful, but the excitement started after clearing customs.

When you enter Tibet and make your way through the customs checkpoint, you are given two sheets of paper which is actually your visa. Now, most countries stamp the visa into your passport but not here. Instead, one paper copy of the visa is given to the authorities, while the other copy is yours to keep and protect with your life. See, although Scott and I were two people, we had only one visa between us, with both of our names on it to prove that we are not in the country illegally.

This may have been the case back in 2003, but Lhawang took care of everything for us back then. That was awesome.

Now, you’re not allowed to actually enter the country by leaving the airport unless you have a licensed guide with you. We were to meet our guide when we our flight landed. Slowly but surely we watched everyone else from our flight find their guides and make their way out of the airport and on with their new adventures. Not Scott and I, we just didn’t see any guide there on our behalf. After about an hour a Tibetan man asked us if we were American and we told him that we were. He looked embarrassed and said that he would take care of us. It turned out that another guide had mistakenly taken his two Americans with him and so he was going to try and correct the situation by getting us out of the airport.

Scott and this man talked to the police at the airport exit and after a check of our visa they said it was OK to leave. So, we grabbed the all important visa back and grabbed our gear. We followed the man to the doors and almost walked out when Scott asked me if I had our copy of the visa. I checked my front pocket and no, I did not. We scrambled. We needed that visa. Scott went back to the police and asked them to kindly return the paper. They insisted that we had possession of it. He politely corrected them and they slightly less politely re-corrected him.

All the while I was down on the floor sifting through the contents of my pockets. There was a lot of stuff to sift through…a bad habit I’ve had since I was a child. I just love stuffing everything into my pants pockets.

Just as the police were about to escort Scott to a holding cell I found the visa. I had put it in the same back pocket as my lens cap–something I NEVER do as I always put important items in a front pocket.

We were good to go and Scott was safe from abuse from the police. Now, if only I could be safe from abuse from Scott…

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 27:53