In 1986 I took a taxi from kathmandu to the Tibetan/Chinese border. I heard the Chinese were letting in tourists. The road was out. I hiked several hours over the mountain to the border town. I crossed the bridge. I showed my China visa. The Chinese soldiers ushered me over. I was in Tibet. I went outside the town and caught a Chinese truck to a town near Everest basecamp. I had horrible altitude sickness. The Tibetans riding with me in the back of the truck were covered with lice. Many of moaned as we climbed over 20,000 ft at the pass. I took more trucks, Volvos (Swedish climbing team) and walked to Rongbuk monastery. A few months begrudingly gave me hot water. I had my own ramen to cook. It was cold and miserble but I was in Tibet! I walked to basecamp, visited the Swedes, and went back to the monastery. Took more trucks back to main highway. Then caught more Chinese trucks to Shigatse, then Llasa. In Llasa there were few restaurants and hotels. Only a few backpackers and large tours of folks flying in. It was wild, rough, and tough. The Chinese truck driver carred huge pistols. "Why you come here?" one said. "The Tibetans are filthy people. Uncivilized. Why you no visit the real China?"
Later I took buses to Kashgar through western china on to Pakistan.
I never did see the real China. This summer, now almost sixty, I am planning my first trip to China to Beijing, Guilan, Chengdu, etc. I will not be visiting Tibet.