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Hanging out - Lhasa China

Lhasa Travel Blog

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Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet

We moved from our 2 bedroom ensuite to a room more worthy of our budget in Lhasa, the dormitory.  This comprised 4 beds in a square room with a window, communal showers and communal squat toilet, which always has a smell that seems to permeate the hallways and stairwells of accommodation blocks.  We would shortly discover that the 4 bed dorm could quickly be converted into a scene from a teenage slumber party movie such as "American Pie". The floor of our dormitory room quickly became a mezzanine level for 3 other tourists who were enjoying our company so much that they thought it necessary to have a mattress on the floor as further punishment.  It didn't worry me, I was on the upper deck some 30 centimetres from the floor (ceiling?).  What a view. 

 

In times of a rush for the toilet or to simply undertake the most rudimentary of tasks, say to get from the window to the door was like undertaking an obstacle course of people‚Äôs belongings.

Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet
  Very entertaining what some people bring on holidays.

 

The weather here was beautiful, a balmy 26 degree during the day and for me at night I required the use of a light jumper to keep me warm.  Or should I say the only jumper I had because mum thought it might be a good idea.  It turns out that it was a damn good idea.  Thanks mum.   Nights were about 12 degrees or so.

 

We continued to eat at a fantastic restaurant attached to the Hotel, called the Kailash Restaurant, of which there were at least 4 in town with the same name.  We ate burritos, Yak steaks with mash potato and veges like the veges you have back home, I tried gnocchi an Italian dish and it was outstanding.  It was nice to get away from the traditional Tibetan dishes which were tasty but not for me all the time.

Potola Palace Lhasa Tibet
 

 

Here we also managed to drop our semi conscious clothing into a laundry attached to the hotel.  They wouldn't wash our smalls though, and I didn't blame them really - 7 days or so in the same smalls is pushing the boundaries of reasonable for anyone.  But we found a laundry run by some young kid looking to make it in the cleaning business and he was to earn our business and respect by cleaning those little suckers.  Well done kid. 

The Monks

 

Lhasa is kind of divided into the old and the new city.

Girls day out in Lhasa
  The new part is obviously built by the Chinese with heaps of multi-storeyed buildings made out white tiles.  There must have been a sale on tiles mainly white in the 80's perhaps, because the Chinese love them.  We visited the holy Buddhist Johang temple which is situated in the middle of
Barkor Square.  In the square and inside the temple 1000's of pilgrims walk around in a clock wise direction for hours swinging their prayer wheels about.  Others are prostrating on the spot, while others do the hard yards and prostrate around the complex on their hands and knees.  It was amazing to see. 

The next day 4 of us returned to an inner Temple of the Johang Temple for prayer time with about 50 monks, yep they were all wearing those maroon robes and had shaved heads, ranging from 15 to 80 years of age at a guess.

The group of us on a roof top Lhasa
  We got in nice and early and were invited to sit with the monks during this prayer time on the floor.  It was pretty cool because we were the only other people in there at that time, because they closed the doors to keep everyone else from trying to burst in.  However the burst would come. 

 

There was the usual talk amongst the monks, until one of them in this Darth Vader like voice hypnotized the monks into silence.  Then one by one they all began to sing this prayer or something religious individually all out of sync with each other like an orchestra fine tuning its instruments before the big shebang.  After a few minutes the voices all started to become more harmonized and they all started to sing the same words in time, all inside this little dark room full of carvings, statues of Buddhas, and cultural stuff.  It was pretty special to see first hand.  Even for a heathen like me. 

 

Then something I didn't expect.  The doors to the prayer room which was the size of about 5 class rooms was opened, and the local pilgrims ran inside as noisy as all hell.  But the monks kept focus and kept monking and praying and singing. 

 

The locals then began to walk around the enclosed area where the monks were monking in the clock wise direction, swinging their prayer wheels, talking on their mobile phones, people looking at us strangely like what the hell are they doing in the inner bowels of the temple.   I just gave them a cocky look back as if to say "You wish you were in here don't you pilgrim?" 

 

Then a monk had to close the doors to avoid too many pilgrims coming in.  Then some more strange goings on occurred whilst all the time the monks continued to monk on.  There seemed to be a middle man emerging in the form of a woman who was taking money from pilgrims.  The pilgrims were then provided with a long white silk scarf placed around their necks and allowed to enter the inner bowels of the temple near to us.  Then a monk would arrive with a massive wad of Chinese money and hand it to these silk wearers.  Silk wearers then walked around and placed a note in front of each of the monks and then returned the left over notes to the Money Monk and left the bowels and the next invited pilgrim would do the same thing.  And it seemed like a big deal as entire families were undertaking this act.  Then as if it could get no more different to what I expected, it appeared as though we had arrived on the monks laundry day.  This in itself I would liken to the Wallabies or the Australian cricket team receiving its new playing strips.  During this process all the robes arrived via the backs of some old men and placed at the side of the bowels of the temple.   Then two older ladies who could have been the mums of any of the monks, walk in were greeted by several monks who broke from the prayer.  Then several monks walked with the two ladies around the praying monks ceremoniously handing out the newly washed maroon outfits to the monks, as if it were the Queen handing out a knighthood.  What a way to get your laundry done. 

After some very good times with the guys we had travelled with over the course of the past 8 days it was time to say goodbye and continue on whatever directions people were going.  Some were going back to Nepal, others exploring Mt Kialash, some continuing further into China like ourselves. 

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Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet
Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet
Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet
Johang Temple Lhasa Tibet
Potola Palace Lhasa Tibet
Potola Palace Lhasa Tibet
Girls day out in Lhasa
Girls day out in Lhasa
The group of us on a roof top Lhasa
The group of us on a roof top Lhasa
Lhasa
photo by: mountaingirl