Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lost in China Day 6

Situated at 3500m above sea level in July, Lhasa is hot during day time, and sun is strongest around 4pm. Not the Malaysia kind of hot, it feels hot on the skin, but accompanied by cold wind and strong UV.

Today should be a fine day. I seem to adapted to this altitude, no more headache and nausea.

The first destination for the day, is the great Potala Palace. This is the winter palace of Dalai Lama, another UNESCO Cultural Heritage. The structure is located on a hill, makes it look taller and magnificent. It has 1300 years of rise and fall, mainly by natural disaster and war.

The great Potala Palace. It consists of 2 parts, which are Red Palace and White Palace. Red Palace is used entirely for religious study, while White Palace is for living, resting, diplomatic use. 

Center View

Prayers are practicing with a tool which they swing clockwise, while walking clockwise around the palace.

Waiting for the gate to open. Tour guide waited here yesterday since 6am to buy ticket, as they have visitor quota each day. Much appreciated.

Walking up the palace

Most parts of the palace are no photograph, so nothing internal to show here. It has a very thick wall to insulate from cold weather or maybe external threat. We were walked through the White Palace first, which is living quarter of several previous Dalai Lamas, their resting room, study room, meeting room etc. 

The interesting one is the Red Palace. It housed the Relic of several previous Dalai Lamas, hundreds of thousands of Buddha statues, countless of Buddhism teaching scrolls, the Dalai Lama throne made from real gold and precious stones, and a lot exotic stuffs.

It was here that I learnt from our tour guide, there is no Dalai Lama in Tibet anymore. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th, and are currently in India as political refugee. Historically, when Dalai Lama passed away, they usually left a clue of the next Dalai Lama. Personnel will be sent out to find for the boy according to the hint. When they found the candidate, several previous Dalai Lama's items or relics will be shown to test the boy's reaction. This had been how it works for thousand years.

We also learnt that, Penchen Lama, the second most powerful leader of Tibet, were having 2 candidates for their 11th term. First one was a boy which hinted by previous Penchen Lama when he passed away, while second one, was politically elected by Beijing. The original boy were later in China's custody at age of 6, and no one knows his whereabouts now. 

Anyway, discussing about these stuff in Tibet is not recommended, as these are political sensitive issues. Polices are everywhere, uniform or not, but glad that our tour guide spoke good English.

The behind view of Potala Palace is the new Lhasa. China developing the area with modern high rises, industrial factories etc. If you still hesitate to visit Tibet, next time it will look like Chengdu.


Lunch at a nearby rooftop Nepalese Restaurant. The boss and  the food do look like Nepalese.

One of the member, Li Zhi, just entered the toilet for his High Altitude Sickness treatment.

Nepalese Curry Chicken. The Dal is awesome.


Noon, we went to Sera Monastery, one of the great 3 monasteries in Tibet. It was located at the mountain leg, and one of the most damaged monasteries during revolution, still recovering most structures.

Instead of following the path of most tours, our tour guide leaded us to a hidden store room, which keeping 2 Tangka arts. It was made by arranging color powder, just like what we seen during Deepavali in Malaysia, but with much greater details. If not mistaken, these arts are telling story about hell and relic.

The spotlight of Sera Monastery, is the weekday monk debating party. Monks gather at the same place, and start debating anything, from religion to science etc. A monk will raise a topic to challenge another monk, then sit down keep quiet and listen to the 'challenger'.

Challenger will response, with sometimes clap their hand with points. The whole picture is quite funny, I just wish I can understand Tibetan language.

See for yourself

We were explained by our guide about 天葬, literally Sky Funeral, one of the most used funeral type in Tibet. The dead will be carried to the mountain, removed the skin, and feed to the vultures. Such cultural difference.


Since the day is still early, our guide treat us to a nearby Sweet Tea shop. A lot of Tibetans as well as tourist enjoying their afternoon here, chit chat, playing card games, just relax.

Yak skull decoration. Why do people loves these kind of souvenir?

Last day in Lhasa, tomorrow will be a long ride to slightly higher altitude with more awesomeness!

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