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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Saturday, 26 May 2012

Travels in Tibet

In 2010 I travelled to China and Tibet. I had visited Nepal in the early 70s and had been able to travel widely as I was staying with a friend who lived there and he was able to get me a special permit to allow access to areas normally out of bounds to tourists. However, although we travelled to the border with Tibet we couldn't gain entry as it was occupied by the Chinese. It was a place I longed to see. The book 'Seven years in Tibet' by Heinrich Heller had captivated me when I was young so I was delighted when I went to China  in 2010 and got a visa to see Tibet.

Looking up at the Potala Palace
However, my disappointment knew no bounds! There were no snow covered mountains surrounding Llasa as I had imagined. The town looked very modern and Chinese with little Tibetan heritage to be seen. The streets were patrolled by groups of riot police complete with automatic rifles and helmets.The large parade ground in front of the Potala Palace and the high rise flats dispelled my wonderful images of the city of Lhasa.

A view of Llasa from the Palace

Looking out from the Potala at the parade ground

But once inside the Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama, I was not disappointed. It is an impressive building - 13 floors high. Inside it has a myriad of rooms, many displaying Buddhas and icons. There was a strong smell of incense coming I think from the burning of Juniper branches. All around us were small candles being burnt in yak oil/butter. These were continually being tendered probably because of the risk of fire. Everywhere you looked, stuffed into every conceivable crevisse and surface there were yuan notes that had been put there as offerings. It was important for people to gain as many credits as possible in their pursuance of Nirvana. Apparently the money did not go to the Palace but to the State. We also discovered that although we were allowed into the Potala Palace it was against the law to own or display a photo of the Dalai Lama.

5 comments:

  1. My goodness, you have been around. The closest I have ever gotten to Lhasa is that I have a little Lhasa Apso named Holly. :)

    Thank you for stopping by Spots and Wrinkles.

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  2. My boss wanted to see Tibet, and he did, but by the time he arrived he was in distress due to the extreme altitude and ended up in a hospital! I see Tibet in my mind's eye as being the place the Dalai Lama envisioned. May it happen in my lifetime.

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  3. Your trip must have been very interesting It looks beautiful ! The Dalai Lama was in Belgium on Thursday ! I was very disappointed when a friend who wanted to go there showed me the entrance fees ! 300 € entrance to be with him in the same room, 50 € standing outside the temple and 25 € just sitting on chairs outside in the grass. Fortunately the weather was nice. Of course she didn't go there apparently buddhism is also only for wealthy people !

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  4. I am always so fascinated by the buildings and landscapes of distant places. Your photos certainly give me a sense of the height of the palace. Huge! xx

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  5. Fascinating place, you were lucky to go even if it didn't quite live up to your hopes!

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