An amazing story - Lhasa as seen by an outsider in 1945

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From the National Geographic -- originally published in 1955 and reprinted in the May issue:
My Life in Forbidden Lhasa
The rocky trail led into the broad valley of the Kyi River. Exhausted, our shoes in tatters and our feet bleeding and blistered, we rounded a little hill. Before us lay the Potala, winter palace of Tibet's Dalai Lama, its golden roofs ablaze in the January sun.

Lhasa was only eight miles away!

I felt a sudden compulsion to sink to my knees and offer a prayer of thanksgiving, even as did the Buddhist pilgrims who were our companions. It seemed impossible that we had reached safety, that our agony of cold and hunger and danger lay behind us. We had walked more than 1,500 miles across the most forbidding terrain in the world and had climbed 62 mountain passes, some as high as 20,000 feet.

It is just as well, I have since felt, that no man can foretell the future. What would Peter Aufschnaiter and I have thought, when we left our native Austria in 1939 as members of the German Nanga Parbat Expedition, had we known we faced long imprisonment and a desperate escape into Tibet, where we were to roam fabled Lhasa with a color camera?

War had trapped our expedition in Karachi. Enemy aliens, we were interned in a British prisoner-of-war camp in India. We mountaineers decided to attempt an escape over the towering Himalayas.
It's 17 pages long and it is impossible to excerpt -- the story flows from one amazing event to another. The two soldiers get accepted into Tibetan society, become friends with the Dali Lama, witness the Chinese invasion. These are the two people that inspired the 1997 movie Seven Years in Tibet.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 21, 2008 4:34 PM.

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