The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 192
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 192

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 12, 1976
Page 192
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Page 192 article text (OCR)

Dominating the skyline of Lhasa, capital ot Tibet, the majestic Potala seems to grow out of the rock. The palace-fortress was begun in 1645, took 50 years to complete. IB Hiu yiiNiuiililnleefiifleifjMi by Marva Shearer every two years, although we met one man who'd been there for 22 years. They are not permitted to intermarry, while the Tibetans are encouraged to marry and propagate as part of the government policy for increasing the minority populations. Around the bend of what had now become the Lhasa River, we spotted our destination the capital city, former home of 14 successive Dalai Lamas and "Place of the Gods." It spread out flat and orderly across the floor of a leafy, green valley, bordered by distant mountains and dominated by the incredible, golden-pinnacled Potala Palace like a scene from the film Lost Horizon. We had little time to take in the spectacle. Our hosts hurriedly drove us down the main boulevard and into a walled courtyard containing the official guest house, a separate dining hall and a makeshift basketball court. We were taken to our rooms and advised to lie down, take oxygen and rest until dinner time. Guided tour of museum The next morning, after a breakfast of barley soup, warm yak milk, fish balls, corn muffins, meat-filled dumplings and tea, we piled into cars and drove the few blocks to the Revolutionary Exhibition Hall a combination history museum, diorama and Chamber of Commerce display. Our guide's first lesson stressed the point that Tibet had been an integral part of China since 641 A.D., when Princess Wen-cheng of Sian, China, married King Songtsen Campo of Tibet. road to Lhasa. As a further precaution, inside each car were individual bed-pillow-size canvas bags filled with oxygen. We were told to insert the plastic tube leading from the bag in one nostril and breathe comfortably if we felt woozy. Most of the interpreters used them immediately. The rest of us were too preoccupied with cameras and first impressions to take an extra breath. Our motorcade drove rapidly past mud-clay farmhouses, meager pasture-land and an occasional lone militiaman or -woman standing, rifle in hand, guarding the empty countryside. The closer we came to Lhasa, the more contemporary the scene. We passed a cement plant, army barracks and truckloads of blue-jacketed workers being hauled to job-sites. We were told that there are about 120,000 Chinese working with the 1.7 million Tibetans. They serve as rural laborers, technicians, government cadre and army officers. They are rotated about been to Tibet either. The modern jet route into Tibet follows the fabled silk road across China, but instead of camel stops and yak trails, the air lanes are marked by snow-covered peaks. We kept busy trying to identify Mt. Everest and the other peaks, all appearing like icebergs in a foamy sea above the cloud cover. Isolated installation In the middle of a mile-wide, flat, protected valley, the Chinese had built a modern landing strip for jets, a good-sized terminal building and access roads, although there was no evidence of a city or community to support such an up-to-date installation. We were not to enter the terminal. A fleet of cars, two of them curtained black limousines, were parked on the tarmac awaiting our arrival. Before landing, our hosts had distributed cards with our name, car number and room assignment so there would be no delay in moving our party along the 50-mile LHASA, TIBET. Since 1969, more Americans have landed on the moon than have visited Tibet in the People's Republic of China. I was lucky enough to travel recently to China and on to Tibet with James Schlesinger, former U.S. Defense Secretary the only woman in his party. Before taking off for "The Roof of the World," we were thoroughly examined by a team of doctors at Peking's Capital Hospital to determine our heart and lung capacity to adjust to the 12,000-foot altitude at Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Three of our group of 12 who toured China, among them my husband Lloyd Shearer, were disqualified. Nine of us boarded a Trident jet in Chengtu, Szechwan Province, for the Z run into Kung-te, the highest airport in the world. Neither the fear of altitude 3 sickness nor the possibility of sudden c mountain storms squelched our excite-i ment. The Chinese interpreters were equally excited. None of them had ever

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