Arrival in Lhasa
Trip Start Jun 11, 2005
114Trip End Dec 22, 2005
We have both travelled extensively in the world but neither of us has ever felt the level of excitement and anticipation that we felt waiting for our 1st glimpse of the "fabled" Lhasa.
We landed on schedule but had to wait a further hour for our 1st glimpse as the airport is 95km away. An hour later and we caught our 1st view of the Potala. Even though we've seen a thousand pictures of it, perched up on the hill above the city, the reality is so much more imposing and magnificent. It is huge and awesome and we couldn't take our eyes off it as we passed for the 1st time towards the bus station
The first 3 hotels we tried were full and not very good quality. We then came across "Shangrila". A blow the budget hotel called the Dhood Gu, run by very friendly Nepalis. The reception had gorgeous tibetan carvings in bright colours and after viewing a room similarly decorated there was no turning back. We met another couple from our plane who came to the same conclusion. We are still there 3 days later!! Oh well, sometimes it's worth blowing the budget.
We decided to take it easy on the 1st day. We were both feeling the altitude a bit, catching our breath every now and again, but nothing too bad. The sky was blue and dotted with clouds so we decided to take advantage of the good weather (auspicious in our opinion) to get some good outdoor shots of the Potala and the Jokhang. The atmosphere around these places is amazing and we couldn't take our eyes off the Potala all day long.
Later in the day we had a panic as a tour agency we had dropped into to get a quote for some travel we wanted to do, said the Potala was about to be imminently closed by the Chinese authorities ue to the upcoming 40th anniversary celebrations. We couldn't travel all this way and not see it!! Our hotel told us not to worry but to get up early the next morning to try and get tickets.
We rounded the perfect day off with a beer on our hotel roof terrace which had an amazing view of the Potala (marred a little by the many chinese flags) and we sat up there until dark. The whole day seemed surreal. We had huge smiles on our faces all day, not quite believing that here we were on the roof of the world.