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Lhasa

Written on: Monday July 20th, 2009

A journal entry from: London to Beijing overland!!

After a short drive from Gyantse, we arrived in Lhasa, the main city in Tibet.  With around 200,000 people Lhasa was once the home of the 14th and current Dalai Lama, until he fled to India into exile in 1959. We had 4 nights at a pretty nice hotel and at 3,600m it was a bit lower in altitude than where we had been driving.  However as I was starting to feel good again, Heather was struggling with the altitude and she is ready to descend she says, unfortuantely we still have about another 10 days on the plateau!   The main attraction in Lhasa is the Potala Palace, once the  residence of the Dalai Lama it survived the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the cultural revolution, our books tell us that they tried very hard to destroy it.  At that time in history over 6,000 monastries were destroyed in Tibet, for some reasons the larger and more important monastries to the Tibetans were spared by the Chinese. We had booked tickets through a tour guide and yep, we gt ripped off, paying more than double what we should have been paying.  Anyway it was one of those things that you have to do and to walk around inside the Potala really was amazing, to see the Tibetans history all their inside this palace really makes you think what has become of their culture and way of life and how it has changed to its present day.  We couldn't take photos inside at all, but basically there were lots of small rooms, temples, shrines and even the tombs of past Lamas, none more impressive than the tomb of the 5th Dalai Lama Tongshapa.  He was loved by the Tibetans and what we could understand he united the people and built monastries and started the construction of the Potala Palace.  His tombe was bloody impressive, it was probably about 6metres long by 4metres high and it was built with over 3 1/2 tons (yes Tons) of gold, and encrusted with precious and semi precious stones including diamonds and rare coral.  It sure was a sight to behold, surounding the room it was in was a number of the buddhas, all of them were huge as well.  As well as his tomb the other past Lamas including one that had died at age 11 had tombs that were almost equally impressive.   The palce also featured the residence of the Dalai Lama, where he slept, also the rooms he would teach and pray in as well as where he would meet and greet guest and dignitaries that visited the palace.  It really was quite an impressive place but it only it seemed like we probably got to see a quarter of the whole place, the rest being off limits strictly enforced by the chinese police that were everywhere.  Now that we have been to a few monastries and temples and now the Potala we kind of wonder how much of the admission price actually goes back to the local Tibetans, we don't think it is much if any.  However China have put a lot of money into Lhasa and the Tibetan region building roads and also finishing the highest railway line in the world which links Lhasa with Beijing reaching high passes of over 5,000 meters.   

The rest of our time here we have eating lovely food, especally ther local Yak steaks, costing about $5 aud they were brilliant every time I had one, the beers were cheap as well and we got to have a few nights out with the crew.  We just kicked aound for the rest of our time, I went for a walk right around all the local Tibetan markets and back streets. getting lost on more than 1 occasion.  I was being tempted by some beautiful Tibetan carpets and horse blankets, not sure what we would do with the horse blanket, I gues we'd have to buy a horse!!

 

Anyway we are driving north now to Nam tso lake, apparently the highest salt water lake in the waold and then its a long drive up to Golmd and across to Xining.  Our guides have no idea what the roads will be like as they  have ever done this part of the trip before so it shall be interesting!!

 

Bye for now

Russ and Heather

 

 

From Kellie Jansen on Jul 30th, 2009

Just a quick question. What is the commpany you are doing the trip with? A girl at work wants to do one too. Not much news here. ben has one week of footy left the nthe finals. Iam just working. Take care, Kel xoxox