The Spoilt City of Lhasa
Trip Start Aug 06, 2007
59Trip End Jun 03, 2008
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Lhasa itself however was highly disappointing and depressing!! It kinda looks like Songpan had been enlarged to resemble Chengdu - the Chinese influence was startling, and glaringly obvious. The group's plans were to take it easy for the rest of the day due to the high altitude (3700m), i however went for a wander round the immediate area, got some money out the wall etc
Woke up at 7:30am, breakfast, then we went to see the Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lamas. The palace was split into two sections: the red and white palaces, dealing with the political and religious affairs respectively. Inside were countless living quarters, temples, tombs of former Dalai Lamas and libraries - all unbelievably impressive, each decorated with the most intricate gold and wood work. Also countless gold statues of various sizes of the various Bhuddas and former Dalai Lamas. Photography was absolutely not allowed inside, with cameras everywhere and my words can never do the place justice. However, nowadays most of the building is used by the Chinese gov as offices... and in front of the palace, where there once use to be a river and trees, now stands a monument in the middle of a concrete square celebrating the "liberation" of Tibet.
After lunch (where we went to a restaurant where i asked for chopsticks and they actally said they didn't have any.
Woke up and had breakfast like yesterday... early! :P We then visited Drepung Monastery, which is one of the three major monasteries of the yellow hat sect in central Tibet
After lunch, to get a closer look at monks in action, we drove to the Sera Monastery. There we sat in the main square, while the monks had an open debating session! Apparently all monasteries have such sessions, but this is the only one that has it in open air and allows ppl to watch. It was amazing to see how groups of monks sat on the floor, each group getting drilled with questions from that day's asker (they take turns apparently). After they finished debating, they sat around a principal monk who led them in a prayer/chant and they burnt offerings
Today started same same. We drove to see the Summer Palace, a place where the current Dalai Lama apparently liked better than staying at the Potala Palace. It was easy to see why, the entire compound was covered in the most colourful flowers, most of which i'd never even seen before! Inside the palace had an almost european feel to it, having much more light than the Potala or any of the monasteries we'd been to. There were temples on small islands in the middle of a lake, with stone bridges connected them. And we saw the stables that use to house hundreds of horses to cart the carriages of the Dalai Lama. We also saw the gate by which the current Dalai Lama escaped at night from the Chinese.
Afters we were dropped off in the Jokhang area to spend the rest of the day as we wished. While the rest of the group went shopping in the market, i went for a walk along the river, for like 2hrs there and back. On my way back i went to the electronics stores near Jokhang to try and find another battery for my camera, since in the trek we'll be going for quite a while without having the option to recharge. I went into one shop, showed them my battery and they went and got it for me from one of the other shops! :P but it was really cheap so i was happy.
Did very little the rest of the day, i was knackered after all that walking! We had dinner in the hotel and packed our stuff since we'll be leaving Lhasa tomorrow morning.