At High Altitude

Arrived at Lhasa airport on Tuesday 22 November. Stepped outside and thought that my hands would fall off due to the cold and was afraid to touch my nose. Learnt that if you stay in the sun you’d be ok in a t-shirt but stand in the shade and four jackets are not enough.

On arrival in Lhasa two hours later (seems the only way they could build an airport was to build it 90 minutes drive away), I headed to my hotel. Turned out I could have a room for Y50 but that definately didn’t include a heater and the shower was miles away. If it wasn’t for Taryn’s tour group and their expensive hotel rooms I might have been a little smelly by the flight home.

Headed out for lunch and realised that I was back in Nepal… without the homeliness. Lhasa is split into two almost separate townships, the Tibetan and the Chinese sides. I didn’t know which home I was in… Nepal or China!!

Lhasa

View of Lhasa

Lhasa

View of Lhasa

From the restaurant I got a good view of the Barkhor pilgrim circuit where pilgrims and tourists circumnambulate the 1300 year old Jokhang Temple, one of the holiest shrines in the world. I’ve seen circumnambulation before but not like this. Usually everyone looks like a holy person but here it was every man and his dog. I got the real experience after lunch, combining it with some necessary shopping (gloves, scarves etc).

Barkhor Circuit

Barkhor Pilgrim Circuit

Pilgrims

Pilgrims

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

The next day I went out to Drepung Monastery, the largest of the Tibetan monastic towns. After hiking up the hill and realising that the altitude did actually affect me, I took in the beauty of the town set against the side of a hill. I’m glad that I went in the afternoon and missed all the tourist groups because it was so peaceful to be sitting in a monastery with almost no-one else around. There are six main temples and we saw inside four of them as well as the kitchen. You can even take photos so here is the only insight I have from the many Buddhist temples I have been into.

Drepung Monastery

The front of the Main Temple

Drepung Monastery

Inside the Main Temple

With a Monk

With a Monk

That night I met up with Taryn from Nepal and it was so great to see her again, especially when I kind of felt like I was in Nepal. The next day was spent trying to organise tickets to the Potala Palace, something the Lonely Planet guide definately needs to update in the next edition. Wandered around for hours trying to find the ticket office before I was told that it didn’t open until 12pm. So then I waited to get my ticket for the next day and by then I was tired and frustrated so I spent the afternoon in a cafe before meeting Taryn again for dinner.

Friday was a much better day. I headed to the Potala Palace where the Dalai Lama’s residences used to be. It’s an amazing structure but the artefacts inside are even more amazing. The Palace holds items from the residences of many of the Dalai Lama’s as well as their tombs, which are huge and covered in gold and precious jewels. It was amazing but sorry no photo’s allowed so all you can get is the photo’s of the outside.

Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Potala Palace

South of the Palace

Potala Palace

North of the Palace

Prayer Wheels

Prayer Wheels

Then I caught the bus back out to the airport, flew to Chengdu, spent three hours in the worst airport that I have ever been in, flew to Wuhan and got to bed around 1am ready for class at 8:50am the next day.