Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Altitude Sickness

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling light-headed and woozy, a little like I was drunk and hung over at the same time. But I had no reason to be either. I think it was either the altitude or the medication to take care of the altitude. I worried that I wasn’t going to do well in the morning.

The morning wake-up call came and I felt fine. Others haven’t fared so well. Mostly they are those who took the Chinese remedy. Vomiting. Bad headaches. Light-headedness. Nausea.

Latitude 29°39'28.26"N, Longitude 91° 7'3.52"E

Our first destination was the Potala Palace. This lovely structure sits high on a hill on the east side of Lhasa. When we got there, we saw hundreds of pilgrims walking around the Palace clockwise. When they got to the front of the Palace, they would prostrate themselves and bow and pray. It was an amazing site.

The Potala Palace was/is the winter home of the Dalai Lama but because he is in exile, there is no Dalai Lama at the Palace.

For the most part, I will let the photographs do the talking. I hope to someday have the time to write captions (when I’m not on vacation!) Oh, and you can’t take pictures inside any of the temples and rooms. I didn’t take notes of all the interesting things the Young Tour Guide and the Old Tour Guide said about the Potala Palace. As we approached the Palace, as we walked up, while we were in the various temples and rooms, they both had very interesting things to say about the history and the relevance of the Palace to Tibetan Buddhism. What I will say is that climbing the stairs and seeing the walls, the colors, the view, smelling the smell of the incense and burning candles was a truly spiritual experience.

We had a great lunch at Weidaochang Hot Pot Restaurant was great. I love hot pot. The boiling broth in the middle of the table, the meat and vegetables plopped into the water, the waiting, the gorging. I ate way too much. Again. If you go to Lhasa, go there. No. 75 North Deji Road, Lhasa City (0891-6818383)

Latitude 29°39'10.89"N, Longitude 91° 7'52.32"E

Next we went to Jokhang Temple. This temple was more active than the Potala Palace in that there were monks around. They were part of the environment. The colors in the temple were so vibrant. I can’t say anything more here that the Lonely Planet Guide couldn’t tell you. It is really nice, though, to have a local person to be your guide. Here are some photographs of the Jokhang Temple.

Latitude 29°39'10.11"N, Longitude 91° 7'47.57"E

Right next to the Temple is Barkhor Square, an old Tibet style bazaar. There is plenty of bartering, plenty of that fun English repeated over and over to ‘entice’ you over to look at the goods. We got some great things and had fun. I put some photos of Barkhor in this set.

Latitude 29°39'13.04"N, Longitude 91° 7'55.04"E

Dinner was at Ashimedok Restaurant but not before doing more shopping at Rhythm of Tibet, an upscale version of the wares of the street vendor offerings on Barkhor, and below the restaurant. This store had some really beautiful items. We bought some manadala thangkas and a rug made of yak wool. They will ship the rug to us.

The food at Ashimedok Restaurant was buffet-style. It was fair. But what was great was the entertainment. There was music and Tibetan dancers performing for most of our meal. It was very fun. The dancing was a cross between Indian and Chinese and the music used drumming, cymbals and a stringed instrument. Go there, too, No. 2 Eastern Barkhor Street, Lhasa. (0086-891-632408)

On the altitude front, we lost one guy who could not make today’s trip and another looked very peaked but trooped on. We all keep checking in with each other to see how we feel. I feel odd when I go into the sacred rooms where there is burning incense, it bothers either my lungs or my heart, I’m not sure. I feel very dried out all the time.

Today was a very full day. I’m exhausted.

Here's where we were today in Google Earth.

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