Sunday, January 30, 2011


Tuesday, March 27, 2007 LHASA, TIBET

Slept pretty good; still have a slight headache from the altitude but am able to be up and about and even climbed the five flights to the roof to see the views after breakfast. Two of our group are spending the morning in bed because of problems with the altitude.

After breakfast we walked to the Jokhang Temple for a visit among the Tibetan people who were prostrating themselves in front of the temple and others who were spinning their prayer wheels, chanting as they used their beads to keep track of their mantras. The smell of yak butter permeates the air and the floor is sticky with it; they all carry thermos full of the hot butter to add to the tubs with candles burning in them as an offering to the Buddha; and there is Buddha after Buddha. Also they put money everywhere; there was even a large tub full of money for them to change their large bills on their own. Tasssi said that no one steals because if you steal from the Temple you will have to pay ten thousand for every one that you take in your next life. These offerings are what support the monks and the temples.

We were not allowed to photograph anything inside. It was very interesting in that after the hour’s worth of prayer in the morning the monks fold their robes in this Temple and place them on the bench so that they looked like miniature monks in prayer. This is not necessarily the same in every Temple.

The Barhor Bazaar surrounds the Temple and is full of vendors selling everything imaginable. Some are bargains and some are rip offs. The guides took us to a Tibetan Carpet and Tang Ka Factory shop where most of us made our purchases with some degree of safety. Jim negotiated from $48. down to $25. and was happy with his prayer wheel memento for Tibet. While we were there we walked to the roof and had another great view of the Potala Palace and an added discovery; they heat water by sitting a kettle above a aluminum foil reflector for solar power. Seems to work well as the kettle was steaming. We had lunch at a nearby local restaurant; some traditional Tibetan food and others that we just enjoyed such as a vegetable pizza.

After lunch Jim cruised the Bazaar again and found his Cowrie shell that was the first form on any kind of money in ancient China. Back to the hotel for a rest and tried the hotel Internet. Not the fastest but sent a quick email to the family to let them know we’re okay; we were all surprised to find that we had access to one.

Our Optional Tour this afternoon was a bus trip about twenty minutes out of town to the Sera Temple where we visited another Temple, saw prayer scripture being prepared (they put them inside of their prayer wheels), witnessed the monks debating with each other and saw a beautiful sand mandala that had been created by the monks. Tassi pointed out that all of the doors and windows are framed by a foot wide black border to keep the evil spirits out. He also told us that if a small child is having bad dreams the grandparents, not the parents, take the child to visit the Lama who painted a black dot on their nose to keep the evil spirits out of their dreams.

The second part of our tour was to a farmer’s village. We strolled through and our guide chose a door to knock on and asked if we could come inside. They were very gracious and allowed us to take photos and she even offered some bread for us to eat. They wanted to know if we were the same people that he had brought with him last year as it’d been a year since he’d been to this village with a tour group. They select different villages and homes for each group. The yak dung was stacked outside the front door just like cords of wood as they burn it for cooking and heat. I don’t think any of us would have agreed to stay overnight in this house. But, they did have two television sets in the house!

Back to the hotel to a dinner at 6 pm (we asked Jo if we could have dinner earlier than the 7 pm scheduled time and she arranged it for us with the hotel). Then at 8 pm we enjoyed a hour of entertainment by Tibetan dancers.

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