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 Tibetans 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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside the Palace 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.
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.
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.
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.
To be continued at Tibet Day 4.