Drepung monastery and walking the Linkor
Lhasa Travel Blog› entry 8 of 24 › view all entries
September 29th, 2007 – by: portia
I have to talk about the way our driver backed the minibus from in front of the hotel. The minibus would be parked head pointing at the hotel on the curb. Maybe it's not really a curb, but a parking lot, but a curb is a better description about the size of this space! He would back up slowly, and if he was going to cross the traffic to go the other direction, he would just back up into ONCOMING traffic, which would miraculously stop inches away from the minibus. Then he would point the front of the car so that it was now in the WRONG lane pointing at the traffic, and then drive forward to merge into the traffic in the right direction! This would never have worked in California, but nobody seemed to think it strange here! Since all drivers seemed to do the same thing.
We went to visit the Drepung Monastery at the foot of the mountains west of Lhasa today. While driving up the hill, we had our first views of some yaks! There were no wild yaks in easy access in Tibet (our guide said he had seen very few of them in remote areas), and these were domestic yaks which we did not get very close to. The Drepung was a large scale monastic site which once had almost 10000 monks! It is more like a college town of its own with colleges for study and dormitaries for the monks. We would see windows with flower pots which would be the residence of some monks as we walked around. It's nice to know they appreciate some nice flowers to brighten their surroundings. We also saw monks tending their vegetable gardens. In front of the main hall, I did some yoga poses and then proceeded to change a roll of film.
After the Drepung, we visited the Nechung Monastery, where the oracle used to reside. The 14th Dalai Lama stopped here to consult the oracle before he left his homeland (The oracle said he should leave).
This was a very small monastery, but it had a lot of murals lining the walls of its inner courtyard and main hall. Bring a flash light to get a better view! It was of course impossible to look at everything in detail. But what we saw were very detailed and vivid pieces of artwork.
Before heading back to Lhasa, we stopped at a carpet factory at my request because I read about it in the guidebook I had. There were male and female carpet weavers in the front room, singing as they weaved.
A late lunch at the Snowland restaurant near the Jokhang, then some rest before we went out again. This time we walked part of the Lingkor, the outer pilgrim circuit of old Lhasa. We did not see many pilgrims along this route because most pilgrims do it in early morning, when it was much cooler! We started at the chorten in what seemed to be a back alley, past some walled compound, up a hill. Along the path there were lots of carved or painted buddha and other sacred images on the rocks of the hill, and some of them were protected with a piece of glass.
Tonight was the last night in Lhasa, and we went to a Tibetan restaurant for dinner. We were served the Tibetan beer called Chang, tried yak butter tea (not too bad, but it was definitely an acquired taste), and had yak tongue (I didn't eat it, although everyone who tried it said it was good!). There was a dish of potatoes with garlic which was quite good.
We definitely acclimatized while in Lhasa, evidenced by the relative ease with which we climbed the stairs now at the hotel!
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