The center of Tibet

Trip Start Oct 28, 2009
Trip End Jun 07, 2010

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Flag of China  , Tibet,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

We arrived in Lhasa after 2 days on the train from Chengdu.  Thankfully we adjusted to the altitude on our slow journey up so, only slightly out of breath, we set about exploring the town. 
Our first night we just kind of wandered around the area near our hotel stumbling upon, what we found out later, to be the holiest Monastery for buddhists.  All buddhists will make a pilgrimmage to this place at least once in their lives and there were many there each day we went by.  They walk around the holy place 3 times before entering and giving offerings to the buddhas and other images inside.  The following day we headed up to Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lama.  This place is much larger than it appears with 1000 rooms, only 50 are accessible by the public and after walking up to the top to start our tour you realize it's become more of a museum than anything.  It doesn't have the same feel as other monasteries and there are cameras everywhere, in fact, there are cameras and security all over Lhasa. There are millitary police, regular police and security guards on every corner. The Summer Palace, which we visited the next day, had a much more personal feel to it.  They had left everything the way it was when the Dalai Lama fled and you were able to see his living quarters, meditation room even his bathroom, including a western toilet! Quite ahead of the times considering there are still squat toilets in most hotels and restaurants now.  One of the nicest experience we had in Lhasa was at the Sera monastery.  After watching the intense debating of the monks we wandered over to one of the many temples and inside we were greeted by a lovely monk who let us into a beautiful room. Inside this room was the protector budha surrounded by 1000 smaller golden budhas, a very impressive sight.  With a big smile and a thumbs up when we mentioned the Dalai Lama we bid the monk farewell and were off to prepare for the start of our 4x4 adventure the next day.
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