Tibet Day 3

Continued from Tibet Day 2.

Woke up this morning kinda early. We are heading to visit the Potala Palace. It was not easy waking up today. I am still suffering from altitude sickness. My stomach bug is also still here, so I haven’t been able to eat too much food. Ugh.

On the way to the palace, our guide reminded us that we need our passports. Apparently, all tickets for going into the palace has your passport number and you need your passport to match. There are so many security checkpoints here in Lhasa, and they actually take them all very seriously. You can read about why there are checkpoints on Wikipedia.

Every morning, thousands of TibetansĀ circumambulate(clockwise walk) around Potala Palace and other sacred temples. They walk around 3 times or walk around 7 times. Our guide said that most of them are retired, and they dedicate their lives to religion after they retire. Religion is the main driving force of life here in Tibet.

This is the entrance gate…the first of many.

Too happy to be here that he vomited in front of the palace? Altitude sickness maybe?

The red palace is the religious part of the palace and the white part of the palace is for politics. Oh my god…we watch again…

Second security check point. We are only allowed to enter this gate 30 minutes before the time printed on our tickets, which is 10am. There is no messing around over here in Tibet, everything is checked and rechecked.

Now we walk up the stairs. There are over 300 steps. I’ve never walked up stairs so slowly in my life. The air is so thin!!

Our guide later told us that some people have so much altitude sickness that they can’t make it all the way up the stairs to the palace and have to turn back around.

Wow, I never knew. Many of the red parts is made out of twigs of wood, and it serves as the wall and roof on some of the upper levels of the palace!! Apparently very durable, the same wood has been here since the palace was built over 300 years ago.

The rest of the palace is made of mud, stones, and wood. Once a year, a mixture of honey, milk, and some other substance is painted on the stone to keep it weather proof. It’s painted by Tibetan volunteers.

The guitar playing god again protecting the door.

The really really thick walls of the palace.

Tickets to go into the palace. The first tickets we got only got us into the courtyard, and these will get us inside the palace itself. Very expensive at 200yuan each. More than $30.

Arka flooring! Love. It’s hard to explain, but it’s awesome.

KL points.

Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside the Palace šŸ™ I would describe it as similar to Drepung Monastery, but like 10 times more ornate. It’s like a maze inside, you go up stairs, down stairs, enter a court yard, enter a shrine, go out into a different set of stairs, etc. There are also funeral stupas inside for several of the past Dalai Lamas. All DL are great, but apparently the 5th one is the best of all. His funeral stup was like 4 times bigger than the other ones. He was the one who united all of Tibet under his rule.

The inside of the palace often smells very strongly of incense. Since the walls are so thick, and there are cleverly designed air vents inside the palace, and it’s actually quite cool inside.

Now we are done with the Potala Palace tour. That was pretty awesome. The exit is on the backside of the palace.

The ramps that are flat enough for horses to pull carriages up. The DL used to get into the palace using these. Must be nice.

LOL!!! When we exited the palace walls, we heard yelling and a group of people running away. I look over and I see a lady with a stick kicking another lady…WTF. According to our guide, vendors are not allowed to sell items in this area, and the lady with the stick is the guard who enforces that policy. She even hit a few guys with her stick. Though…she was only half mad half joking at them…Still, this would not remotely fly in the US.

Yak butter.

Get some postcards and stamps.

Lokhang Temple after Potala Palace. This is right across from our dinner spot last night.

Giant incense burners.

In front of the temple, there’s this underground room with thousands of candles burning.

Pilgrims come from all over to prostrate themselves in front of this temple. Apparently, some pilgrims will spend years prostrating one step at a time from their village all the way to Lhasa.

This man has wooden floors.

I had to be careful not to step on this lady when buying the tickets.

There are no photos allowed inside the main chapel. It houses the statue of a 12 year old Buddha that’s over 2500 years old. It did not look too different from other statues of Buddha that we’ve seen before though.

The golden roof of the temple.

Ladies repairing the Arka flooring. Love this floor.

I miss my dog…

Found our lunch spot.

The only place we’ve been to during our entire travel that has a wait. This place is quite popular.

The food was about the same as the other restaurants…why the long wait?

They did have this service call button on our table, and it worked like a charm. RL thought that this place did have the best service.

RL wanted to go souvenir shopping after lunch, so we dropped by this “supermarket”.

It’s really more like a mall with a lot of small stalls.

There are three floors of these stalls. Kind of overwhelming.

RL ended up buying a colorful apron that Tibetan women wear with their outfits after they get married. Fitting.

Since I did not include a photo of the room previously, here it is. This is what $30 a night gets you in Lhasa.

After getting back to our room, we stayed in for a bit until it was time to pick up our laundry from a place in the alley next to our hotel. I hate having to do laundry. The laundry service in Asia has been less than stellar. We’ve had several items get almost ruined because the washes are so harsh.

Look, other travelers!! There are not many Westerner travelers here in Lhasa. The only place we really see them is in our hotel, but once we are out on the streets, and even in the major sites of Lhasa, we rarely see any Westerners. This was a little surprising to us. There are, however, hordes of mainland Chinese travelers though.

Then, it’s time for dinner.

Neat, this place has a call button as well! This one did not work…Liars!

My food takes forever to come out…And my head hurts. Not quite as bad as yesterday, but still very painful. The fatigue is also still very much there.

RL’s lamb stew.

I had some yak momos(dumplings). This is a pretty common Tibetan dish that they serve at all places in Lhasa.

RL craved tiramisu, so we got one. Yum.

Saw this on our way back to our hotel. Someone’s pissed.

Despite being so tired, we had to rally and write out postcards. I am sending this one to my dog, seriously. I miss him.

To be continued at Tibet Day 4.

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