Lhasa - Capital City on Top the World
The first site you search for on entering the city of Lhasa (not that it is hard to find!) !!!!>>> The Potala, Historical Home of the Dali Lama's.
We did get to go inside and see the rooms and many x-quarters/temples of previous Dali Lama's. The monks inside were fantastic, friendly and helpful. Chinese guards stand ever watchful inside. Everywhere we met with Tibetan people they were always telling us about Tibet's history and how they were once there own country. They wish/hope to be free one day.
Lhasa is the city of pilgrimage. The Jokhang Temple is one of the mainstays of pilgrimage. To build there karma up before entering the temple many pilgrims do the journey standing up, falling down, crawling forward, standing up, etc. Here at the entrance they were doing the routine with out moving forward to continue building their karma.
Once inside the monastery, the smell of Yak butter lamps and the faint lighting are over powering.
Add to this the power of sound.
yep, they are about 9 feet long.
Along with the routine of crawling they have prayer wheels. Basically there is a prayer on rice paper inside the wheel as well as a prayer on the outside of the wheel, when spun the prayers are being said for you. Prayer wheels can often be found surrounding in a circle around part of the monastery. The pilgrims go around and around spinning the wheels. So, why all this?? As will all religions, to reach nirvana (heaven). The Tibetan Buddhist believes in the wheel of life. If they lead a good life, on their next rebirth they will come back in a better state in the world; if they lead an evil life, you go down the wheel to something worse. At each end is basically heaven and hell. When you reach heaven you stay, no more rebirths. Below is the Wheel of Life. Notice the animals and men in the middle. The enlightened man on top, the animal at the bottom.
We visited two of the larger monasteries outside Lhasa. Here we had two treats. First was a testing session for monks. At these sessions one monk is being tested by several asking him questions whilst several more verbally and physically abuse him to try to through him off answering the question correctly. You really have to know your stuff to get through these sessions.
We also got to cross paths with some real nomads in traditional costumes - knives, hair, robes, prayer beads, boats - the compete outfit.
One of the most consistent ways to make friends we found as we travel was to let people look at the pictures in your travel book. Here Stine is letting some people have a look at hers.
What trip to Tibet would be complete with out see Yaks?
From Lhasa we flew to Chengdu, China. Here is a view of the Tibetan Plateau from our plane window, impressive is it not?