Durian GrayForget Lost Horizon--it's more like Lost Weekend for the lost generation in
"Yo! Hey! Disco! Disco!".
Benny, the beaming DJ from
It's Friday night in
It's a rice-queen's wet dream--although strictly speaking Tibetans do not eat much rice, but subsist on yak meat, potatoes, noodles and tsampa (roasted barley flour). Like their peers anywhere else in the world, these guys and girls (there are even a few drag queens), just wanna have fun.
You be the man!
There are virtually no foreigners--and being the only "European" in the hall, guys come up to invite me to join them--drinks (Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lhasa Beer or Coca-Colas) are on them.
I'm dragged to the dance floor to join their little circle, pay for my cab fare back to the hotel--and if you're lucky, sometimes you might get someone to go back with you after hand-holding, cuddling and dancing in the dark.
One well-built Tibetan student, on holiday from the
Gay readers of Heinrich Harrer's Seven Years in
It is even condoned as giving proof that women play no part in the life of those monks that indulge in it." The former SS Austrian Alpinist (portrayed by Brad Pitt on the screen) who fled to
From Kathmandu to
On our first night out, our Tibetan guide and cars had not yet arrived from Lhasa, so we were obliged to spend the night in the seedy border town of Zhangmu which, with its vice and (female) prostitution, has earned itself the reputation of being the Tijuana of Tibet. However, that could mean fun for some. We spent the night at the Gang Gyen hotel with its cute, friendly and obliging Nepalese staff. There is even a disco on the premises and a public bath. The Tibetan bath attendant was happy to show off his large tap in the shower stall, and was more than generous with the copious amounts of shower cream.
On the third day we detoured off the main road past lunar landscape to the Sakya Monastery where the flirty non-celibate monks challenge a visitor to arm-wrestling with their bare muscular arms. Unlike Thai monks, these guys didn't seem to mind an arm around the waist. By evening we reach Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet and which resembles generic Central Asia with its broad poplar lined boulevards and bazaars tended by Muslim merchants.
Practising English Tibetan style
We share a hotel with a troupe of equestrian acrobats who perform in a field the next day. The well-built, young horsemen are very friendly and surprisingly a few speak some English. One shows me their stables at dusk and takes me back to his room to "practice English". One of the first things he wants to learn, he indicates, is the word for lips as he plants his on my kisser.
On the fifth day we finally reach
In contrast to South Asian countries,
If you want to make friends in
As you circumambulate around the Barkhor, you'll also find a few merchants who also speak English. The public billiard tables are good places to find guys (though they won't speak English) and the blaring videotheque cafés are also good for cuddling and pick-ups. One guy came back with me to my room from one of these video joints and another followed me upstairs to the toilet for some hanky-panky.
Free show in the locker room.
Another venue to meet Tibetan guys is the indoor public swimming pool. You can get a free show in the male locker room where guys undress without covering themselves and shower naked in the open stalls. I couldn't help noticing a couple of well-hung Tibetans, and a muscular, off-duty Chinese cop. The cops in
One thing not to bring is pictures of the DL. Photos of the Nobel Peace Laureate are, of course, forbidden by the Chinese in
If you go to
The politically correct who boycott
It is also possible to fly to
Tourist infrastructure is very basic.
Although politically part of
The best places to stay are the Tibetan, family-owned hotels near the Jokhang (the so-called Tibetan Quarter), and the Hotel Kyichu where one can find recent copies of Genre and Men's Health in the lobby is a particular favourite of the writer, and no problem with visitors.
The park and open-air market across from the
Monasteries are, naturally, the logical place to meet those queer monks that Harrer writes about, although times (and mores) have changed since the Chinese occupation. The large monasteries are now tourist traps and you'll probably be herded through by your guide after paying $5.00 admission. If you want to meet Tibetan monks, you'd be better off going to