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China Day 5 - In Lhasa

Added: August 17, 2009

Tags: Tibet castle city mountains photos temple
We looked forward to explore Lhasa for nearly a year since we decided to go and paid deposit. It finally happened on Friday 10th of July.

I could not sleep whole night, but not because of excitement. It was due to headache caused by time shift (I had some problems since Monday) mixed with problems with high altitude. And to make it worse I forgot to buy enough bottles of water in the evening and I was really thirsty. Drinking tap water is not the best idea as we were told and I eventually tried it myself (it was bitter). So shortly after midnight I set out for a quest. To find the bottle of water somewhere in the hotel. I have tried to ask some people in courtyard, I am not sure they were employees or they just lived there. Then I tried reception. It was deserted, but after short time dark figures got out of the sofas in the lobby. Receptionist and some more staff members were sleeping there (sorry guys). No water as well (or just too annoyed staff?).

So the first thing after "waking up" in the morning was that I went out to city to buy water. Most of shops we have seen yesterday were still closed. Only a few of them were preparing for next working day. But all of them located around hotel sold clothes, shoes and souvenirs so I had to wander further away.

It is pity I was primed to my task so much I could not concentrate and enjoy morning life around Jokhang Temple. It is very nice experience, Tibetan pilgrims going around it on the sacred path of worship named kora. They are nicely dressed, with prayer wheels in the hand. Some of them are doing prostrations.

Jokhang Temple

Before we returned to our hotel for lunch I stopped at front of Jokhang Temple to take a few photos. I am glad I did because after lunch cloud cover got much worse.

Then I could continue happily with tasting of Tibetan specialities. Like traditional soup (I forgot name), lamb cubes, yak momo (very nice Tibetan dumplings, yak is optional, they can provide different fillings) and of course butter tea! All were fantastic! But Zuzka was not very lucky. Her mutton ribs were totally black, tough and inedible (I know, I have tried them) and they forgot to bring rice she ordered.


A few photos from Jokhang Temple follows. It is the first Buddhist temple in the Tibet. Story about how it was built is quite complicated so I am not going to bother you with details I do not remember well if at all :-) But I have seen paintings of lake it was built on, white stupa that raised from it, 2 wives of the king and many more.





Roof of Jokhang Temple from roof-top restaurant at Mandala Hotel. I have also photos which show more, but unfortunately there is a huge crane behind temple ruining them completely. And I am not in a mood to edit them :-) Maybe later.

Potala Palace from roof-top restaurant of Mandala Hotel. To edit out water tank from it was much easier task so I did it.

On the roof of Jokhang Temple

It is not allowed to take photos inside of Jokhang Temple, so I do not have any. But the roof was different story this time. It is pity sky was not blue anymore. As we returned from Potala Palace I hoped for more. Mental note: don't think about empty stomach when sky is blue and you are next to nice place.

We could see some monks debating, it is traditional way for monks to learn and pass knowledge to each others. But maybe it got a bit of a play for tourists recently. It is hard to know. I believe the tradition is genuine, but animation and liveness of whole affair seems bit too much. And with not enough light their movements were too quick for my camera :-(

Potala Palace from Jokhang Temple. Often repeated picture, I cannot be different :-)






Finally some snow. I did not expect any, but Zuzka was rather disappointed not seeing any around. It disappeared quickly as it occurred.

Market around the Temple

And finally some photos of ordinary people at work. I liked market here. I am not usually attracted to markets because I do not like pushy behaviour of sellers, but women in Lhasa were different. Charming, inviting, but not pushy. Even that old lady who grabbed my hand and pulled me to her stall was irresistible.

Zuzka bought a few necklaces there, but she had hard time to haggle. If she liked one she would pay price seller asked for (still very good price) so I helped her a bit with tricks I have learned in India with rickshaw drivers. If they did not want to accept your much smaller offer just walk away. They were usually quick to agree. If not you probably offered less than real price. I am not saying I am any haggling guru, because I was able to lower original price to 1/3, but we were satisfied with an outcome.

On the other hand when I went to buy some fruit later my haggling skills vanished completely and I agreed with the asked price. What a shame!


Market around Jokhang temple. The crane I have mentioned before is fortunately not very visible on wide lens photo.

We are getting slowly to price I was satisfied with... The junk you can see on the right is not the stuff Zuzka was interested in. She selected much nicer necklace.