Switching gears from the beautiful island of Mallorca, this post delves into my unreported archives to cover part of my Fall 2018 trip to Everest Base Camp. Late September is one of the best times for viewing Mount Everest. I made the trip to Tibet to see the world’s highest mountain from the north side. Weather, though, is the epitome of the proverbial box of chocolates. No problem. Even if the weather turned out lousy, just being in Tibet would be amazing. Here are a few photos from the days in Lhasa before and after going to Everest.
I arrived in Lhasa via train from Beijing. The 40-hour train journey was an adventure that I posted on previously. In Lhasa, I met the other four people on the tour. The tour organizer, Tibet Vista, gave us a couple of days to sight see and acclimatize before heading to the mountain. Lhasa sits at an elevation of 3656 meters or almost exactly 12,000 feet.
Our accommodation was a nice 3-star hotel on Beijing East Road, the main thoroughfare in Old Town Lhasa.
The night before departing for Everest, the hotel put on dinner performances of Tibetan music and dance. Music and dance is everywhere. I love it.
There are peaceful scenes along the Lhasa River close to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Potala Palace is the home of the Dalai Lama (at least it would be were he allowed to enter Tibet without being arrested by the Chinese) and is the iconic symbol of Lhasa and Tibet. From the hotel, it was an easy 15-minute walk down Beijing East Road. Begun by the 5th Dalai Lama and finished by the 6th, construction lasted from 1645 to 1694.
The palace measures 400 metres east to west and 350 metres north to south. There are 13 levels containing over 1,000 rooms and 10,000 shrines. Tickets and reservations are required to enter. The latest information I’ve seen states the guest quota is 2,300 per day. Many passages and walkways are single file. Guests are allowed only one hour in the palace.
As I recall, our guide said red parts of the palace are made from reeds that have been soaked in a solution that hardens them into building materials.
The “red palace” contains the main halls, temples and shrines of past Dalai Lamas. The interior is bedecked with thousands of scrolls, decorative paintings, jeweled statues, and beautiful murals and tapestries. Photos and videos are strictly prohibited in Potala Palace and all temples and monasteries in Tibet. That is understandable but unfortunate because the most impressive features are inside.
After returning from Everest, I walked over to the palace for a picture of the outside on a sunny day.
Pictures are allowed in the room where monks made alcoholic beverages.
Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery and Gaden Monastery are the most reputed centers for learning, contemplating, and practicing Tibetan Buddhism.
On the way into the monastery our guide stopped at the stand below to make a religious offering and tell us about the monastery. Does anyone know what this offering is about? I’ve forgotten.
Drepung is a very large monastery. It was built in 1416 and served as the home of the Dalai Lamas before Potala Palace.
Sera Monastery dates from 1419. It is one of the three great centers of learning in Tibetan Buddhism. Here we observed what is known as monks debating. Debates are over some of the finer points of Buddhism. A debate occurs between two monks. One is the questioner. The other responds and defends of his views.
Physical gestures are a big part of the proceedings. In answering a question, monks often extend the left hand and strike the left palm with the right palm. There are many gestures and each has a meaning.
Bakhour Street connects to Beijing East Road not far from Potala Palace. It has the reputation of being the main tourist street in Lhasa. Our guide escorted us down Bakhour Street to get to Jokhang Temple.
There are many shops selling authentic Tibetan handicrafts and artifacts.
Tea and tea houses are a big part of life in Tibet. After visiting Jokhang Temple our guide invited us to try tea in Tibetan tea house. As far as I can tell, tea is the only thing on the menu.
Made from yak butter, the tea is sweet and full of calories to aid in staying warm.
The tea was delicious.
Jokhang Temple is regarded as the most sacred and most important temple in Tibet. It was a short walk for us down Bakhour Street from Beijing East Road.
Pilgrims were prostrating themselves in front of the temple. They lie down, stretch out, and stand up. This process is repeated for the entire distance of the pilgrimage. Some pilgrimages cover hundreds of miles.
Construction began in 652. The temple went through several modifications and expansions over the next 900 years.
Although photos are prohibited inside, I took a picture as we were about to enter.
Night On The Town
On our last night in Lhasa after returning from Everest, the group went out on the town to celebrate an amazing trip before parting ways the next day.
We got a recommendation for a hot pot restaurant, Amdo Norzen Tibetan Restaurant, that was just down the street. It was close but a little hard to find in an alleyway.
Once we found the restaurant, it proved to more than worth the effort.
It helped having two native Chinese in the group. Even they were unsure of some of the menu items. Our waitress helped with selections.
We started off with giant stuffed mushrooms.
Stir fry was next.
A hot pot overflowing with vegetables, beef, pork, and other good stuff was the highlight of the meal.
We added several large bottles of Tibetan beer to go with the meal. Everything was outstanding.
The celebration continued when we found a nearby club with musicians performing songs in Tibetan, English and Chinese.
Beer was flowing as we enjoyed the evening. Two patrons at a neighboring table joined our celebration. One of them took the photo below while his friend photo bombed with the V sign.
I hope you enjoyed the photos. Get to Lhasa. It is a wonderful city with rich traditions and friendly residents.