Wow - the potala palace

Trip Start Aug 05, 2007
Trip End Oct 01, 2007

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

OMG... today we went to the Potala Palace. Absolutely AMAZING. It is one of the most stunning buildings i have ever seen. I cant even describe how cool it was and I'm sure the photos wont do it any justice. It was first built in the 7th century by the 33rd king of tibet. It was then extended in teh 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. It's humungous and has over 1000 rooms. The Dalai Lama lived on the top floor. We walked through some of the palace and it was just the most amazing feeling. There were 2 long halls which i just loved. They had enormous statues of buddhas and different kings and lamas and other deities. I was trying to imagine growing up as the dalai lama and running around those halls with these ominous looking statues staring down at them. After lunch (and yes, Yak was on the menu) we went over to another monastery. The monks spend the morning in lectures and then spend the afternoon in groups debating the lessons to get a deeper understanding of what they've learned. They call it debating  and it really is one of the weirdest things i've seen. They have a special outdoor square where they all gather and basically yell at eachother and sometimes push eachother around a bit. They also clap their hands together when making a point. And not just a little old clap of the hands... they pick their right hand up right over their head and then whack it down onto their left hand down around their waste. its kinda hard to explain, when we work out how to load stuff up then we'll post a video. One particular monk loved having all the westerners standing aroudn the outside taking photos and was really hamming it up for the cameras and making the others in their group giggle and laugh at him. In the afternoon we came back to the hotel and went up to the roof for a yoga session. However, there was a storm rolling in. Watching the storm roll in over the mountains was an awesome sight! It was dark gray and the clouds were just at the same height as the mountain tops so they would fade in and out. Before long the rain started sprinkling so we packed up and went back to our rooms. By the time we got down there and opened the curtains it was pouring. Huge rain drops like i haven't seen since i left Australia. It didnt really last long though, the storm hit hard and the passed over. So we ventured out again into the old city for dinner. Oh... and.. Tenzin let us have a beer with dinner :-) But it is only tonight. Tomorrow we visit one more temple here in lhasa and then start packing up for our 5 day camping trip which is at an even higher altitude so no more drinking until we get back from that.
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