Nov 19, 2009

Hypoxic Han Chinese tourists

While I was out in Tibet during my last vacation, it seemed like any time I was at a tourist site above 9,000 feet in elevation, the bulk of the Han Chinese tourists had obvious problems with altitude sickness.

After seeing so many of them struggling with the elevation, I'm wondering how they ever managed to successfully invade Tibet in 1950. I guess they mostly marched in, instead of flying in like they do these days, so they adjusted slowly.

Here's some photos from Huanglong, Sichuan, which is around 9,800 feet.

Below: Check out this youngster's rig. It's an air pillow connected to nasal cannula type tube that he's sucking out of. Dad had one too. In my medical opinion, this thing is going to do you more harm than good since you're expending energy and lung pressure to suck the air out.




Below: a close up of the bag, which says "Three horse brand oxygen bag".




Below: an oxygen hut. Inside there are a half dozen Han Chinese huddled around, sipping air out of nasal cannulas. Looks like of like a shisha bar at first glance.




Below: sign by the door of the oxygen hut. Air is free, but disposible straws to sip the air are 1 yuan each (15ยข).




The local Tibetans, in contrast to the Han tourists, have spent their whole lives at elevation. They seemed to be a good source of advice. One of our Tibetan drivers saw I was going to buy a bottle of suds while we we're staying at around 13,000 feet. I took his advice and held off on the beer for later.

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