Satellite
Show on map
  • Day22

    Exploring Lhasa

    May 25, 2018 in China ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We finally recovered from jet lag and now are only suffering with altitude 😂 as a result we were forced to spend a significant amount of time sitting in rooftop terraces with some Lhasa beers, delicious Tibetan food and nice views over the old town at sunset...

    We spent the first few days exploring the old town, including of course Potala palace and Jokhang temple. We also visited the two largest buddhist monasteries in Tibet - they used to host 5000 to 7000 monks each, but now have no more than 400, in part because 80 000 tibetans left for exile in India along with the Dalai Lama, but mainly because the Chinese government decided to control and limit the number of monks who are allowed to live there. It was weird to realize that our guide was not allowed to talk about the current Dalai Lama, and this prohibition was enforced by cameras and mics in our van...

    We saw LOTS of Buddhas, inhaled a lot of yak butter and incense smell (often too much really), learned about the history of Tibet and understood how Buddhism is in practice. We were surprised to see every day lots of people doing pilgrimage and prostration around the palace and the temples, and especially to see how much money it involves. People who do not seem to have a lot give significant amounts of money to each Buddha statue and to each photo of one of the past Dalai Lamas. All this money seems to be used in part for the subsistence of the monks, but a big part seems to go to the scandalously rich tombs of each past Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, some containing more than 3700 kg of gold...

    Overall, we were surprised by the amount of gold, jewels and other expensive metals in the monasteries as well as all the money many poor Tibetans were giving to their gods. We pictured Buddhism way differently, more focused on the soul and not as much on the luxurious, extravagant objects. We don’t have pictures of these because you have to pay high fees to be allowed! I guess these gods are shy and their keepers greedy...

    Now let’s go see some landscapes. Fingers crossed for the weather to allow good views on our next destination 🤞🏼🏔
    Read more