Jokhang and Barkhor - the holiest place in Tibet!

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2007

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Monday, July 9, 2007

For my final day in Lhasa, I saved the Jokhang Temple, the 1300 year old spiritual center of Tibet.  Jokhang Temple is surrounded by Barkhor Square, which serves as both the kora and the marketplace where all the pilgrims go before descending upon the temple.  The square encircles Jokhang and it is here that all the vendors setup hoping to sell their wares...everything from prayer beads and monks robes to demonic masks, wild medallions and ancient crossbows!   The vendors are generally good-natured and fun to bargain just have to know how to properly bargain.  For example, I saw this crazy ceremonial dagger (like something out of The Golden Child) with allkinds of intricate detailing and snakes on it, so I set a price I was happy with in my mind and went to find it.  Of course, you start with the high/low game, but you have to remember that the vendors are beter at it than you are being that they do it everyday.  The key in China is to walk away, as they will ineveitably (95%) chase you downand bring you back at a highly reduced price.  Id they don't, then no worries, because you can definitely find your product elsewhere.  This knowledge, combined with a playful attitude will result in dramatically reduced prices (like from 500 rmb to 50 rmb)!  So I picked up some funky souveniers for good prices and went off to the temple.

Jokhang is the holiest temple in all of Tibet (to Tibetan Buddhists).  It's over 1300 years old and houses Tibets most important religious artifact, the statue of Jowo Sakyamuni Buddha.  However, the temple is a lot like the palace in that they don't allow photos and there are so many (too many) pilgrims that in order to get a good look at all the artifacts you'd have to wait in a seemingly endless line!  So I cruised through the temple and went up to the lower rooftops fro some ctiy view and golden rooftop photos.  It was a nice relaxing day to have before taking a 2 day train ride to meet Chris in the central city of Zhengzhou to learn some Shaolin Kung Fu!!
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