Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tibet - August 2010

Cousin Alex graduated from UO this year so we celebrated with a trip anywhere he wanted to go in Asia. Since its summer and hotter than bejesus bells, I steered him toward altitude and, if youre going to get high, it doesnt get any higher than Tibet.

After a miserable overnight in Chengdu, Sichuan, we landed early in Lhasa, checked into the hotel and suffered through an afternoon tour of Jokhang Temple, the holiest of holies in Tibetan Buddhism.

Our hotel: the Trichang Lebrang, a quaint, cultural affair located very near the central market surrounding Jokhang Temple.

Jokhang Temple - as the holiest of temples in Tibet, people come from near and far to circumambulate (always clockwise), sometimes prostrating themselves every three steps, often twirling prayer wheels. The living, walking culture - with townies, nomads, farmers and tourists - is a feast for the eyes and the display of devout commitment is overwhelming.

Potala Palace from the rooftop of Jokhang Temple.

Burning juniper and other fragrances in front of Jokhang Temple.

Big Al sniffing out some deals.

Potala Palace

Sera Monastery

Yak butter lamps were everywhere though fewer than in '92, when everything seemed to be coated with the stuff. Due to fire hazard, they have begun to restrict their use in the Potala and other wooden temples.

Hand screening religious scrolls.

Changzu - the first monastery in Tibet. We approached from the south rather than straight from Lhasa and had to take about an hour boat ride to get there. Not too long ago, it would have been a manually rowed yak skin boat...and a significantly longer ride.

Yumbulagang Palace - Ailey was fired up when she heard about the possibility of riding horses but was a bit deflated when she realized they'd be leading her up the hillside to the palace.

Al schooling the locals in the finer points of the game.

Yamdrok tso - Tibets biggest lake, altitude 4441 meters (14570 feet)

Major mountain passes lead to and from Yumdrok-tso, Kamba-la at 16332 feet and here at Karo-la, 17000+ feet.

Letting some prayers fly...

Pelkhor Chode Temple & Gyantse Dzong fort
The Brits invaded Tibet from India in the early 1900s, only to be repelled at this fort.

Tashilunpo Monastery, Shigatse, Tibet