Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Tibet Travel log 11: What to bring to Tibet

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Warm clothing, sunscreen, a hat, sleeping bag ….., there are a lot essential items to pack for a trip to Tibet, and many long list on what-to-bring can be found on the Internet. But on top of the pack list, travelers often have the urge to bring something for the ’locals’.

The funniest example I encountered was an elderly lady who brought bright white tissues with her. Wherever we stopped she started wiping runny noses and with Tibetan nomad kids seemingly appearing out of nowhere there were a lot of very dirty snotty noses to wipe. Luckily she had an almost limitless amount of tissues and she was so motherly and nice that everybody was smiling when she tried to teach them how to blow their noses. She was not very successful though.

I have seen people hand out money or sweets, which only made kids greedy and turned them into persistent little beggars. That is definitely not the right thing to do.

So what should you bring? For a while I brought sweets with vitamin C. When the diet in Tibet improved and the urgent need for vitamin C disappeared, I brought balloons. They require only little space and provide lots of fun.

But during my last trip, by coincidence, I really had the right thing in my bag. When I took pictures of this old nomad couple and wanted to show them the result, the man did not even bother looking at the camera, his eyes were too bad. But with my spare reading glasses, he could and his eyes lighted up. So I made him very happy. He did not mind or even notice, but next time I will also take some pairs without pink flowers!

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Written by Marieke ten Wolde

October 19, 2012 at 09:50

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