Living on a Prayer
Lhasa Travel Blog› entry 9 of 80 › view all entries
Last night we arrived in Lhasa and were met by our guide, Kalsang, and driver who dives a good condition 1980's series Landcruiser. Our hotel, the Cool Yak, is just on the edge of the old town and has a great view from the roof across to the Potala palace. The weather here is also perfect.
Kalsang meets us for the walk to the Potala Palace and manages to jump the queue for us. It is hard to describe just how impressive the Potala really is. It is not simply the setting, though this is magnificent dominating the city from every direction, the richness of the interior or even the devotion the Tibetans have for it. Despite the obvious tourism and crowds it is still a magical experience.
Our appreciation is helped by Kalsang's detailed explanation of the chapels and their buddist meaning. It all washes over me a little as I have only a very basic understanding of buddist philosophy but we both listen attentively and try to take it in.
After lunch Kalsang takes us to the Jokhang temple in the centre of the old town. This is perhaps the most revered of all Tibetan sites. In the morning it is open for worship but in the afternoon is primarily open for tourists. Although some of the chapels are closed the main 2 are open though photography is not permitted inside. We walk up on to the upper levels for the view of the temple and take in the view across to the Potala. On the 2nd level there is some restoration work in progress, local people helping to create a new floor. There is a team of 40 or so in lines, each one holding a stick with a flat stone. The team work in unison, singing as they use the stone to bash the wet gravel into a fine compound. This we are told is the traditional way the temples and palaces have been constructed and we have already seen the final results - the Potala floors have been made in this way and are as smooth as polished cement.