Pico Iyer (Mountainfilm guest, 2008) is enchanted by a mountain-top city on the cusp of great change
The Observer (UK)
February 14, 2010
I walked out on to the balcony in Banak Shol guesthouse in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1985 and looked up to where the Potala Palace sat, on a ridge overlooking the small cluster of traditional whitewashed houses.
A few backpackers were gathered on the terrace, talking about the days of hard travel they'd survived to get there. Tibet had opened up to the world only a few years before, and all of us had the sense of stepping into a place almost never before seen by foreign eyes.
The Banak Shol could not have been a less propitious setting for romance. There were no windows in my little cell and I had to crawl into it before flopping on to the bed. Yet even then, on that first night, I knew, as one does in love, that I was in a place I'd never see again.