Published: August 13th 2007August 13th 2007
Tibet - Potala Palace
Home to several of the Dali Lamas. The current Dali Lama resides in northern India in exile.
Dear Friends and Family,
This will probably be my last blog as we leave Tibet tomorrow with a sad heart. Even though I was tired of traveling I am so glad that we included Tibet in our great adventure. Lhasa, at an altitude of 11,000 feet, is completely different than anything we saw in China. It was our good fortune to arrive the night before a huge week long festival. 35,000 Buddhist Tibetans are here in their native dress. The temples are full of people paying their respects to the shrines. It is amazing to see the devotion and fervor of their worship. The city is full of tent cities to house the visitors. Music is playing continually along with the chants of the people. There were spectacular fireworks last night with a repeat performance again tonight. We were told that because of a reent protest the Chinese gov't was temporarily not issuing Visas. This place is rapidly changing so it is a great privilege to see it before the old is gone.
Yesterday we asked the guide to take us somewhere away from the crowds and so yesterday we drove 120 km on the Tibetan road to the Mt.
Visit ing Tibetan Home
I was amazed that this young woman would open her home to strangers. We had to communicate through our guide but she apparently lives here with her parents who were not home.
Everest base camp. We drove past wheat fields newly harvested, small villages, bright blue sky (a rarity in China) and beautiful mountains. We saw yaks and sheep grazing on the steep slopes covered in peat moss as we drove on the very winding steep road to an elevation over 15,000 ft! I had a slight headache but nothing serious. Our end destination was a fabulous view of a holy lake with the Himalayan snow packed peaks in the distance. On the way back we stopped at a village and the guide went to a home and asked if we could come in and see the house. (I'm not sure how that would play in the states). The young woman (age 21) was happy to let us come in and take pictures. There was a 7-yr old neighbor boy there also who was more than happy to show us his kittens. We tipped her for her hospitality and gave the little boy some Jolly Ranchers which he was very happy to have. Just when I think this trip can't get any better we have an experience like this.
Since we have been in Lhasa we have visited many Buddhist holy sites (all of which have an abundance of stairs). When I saw the Potala Palace, home of past Dali Lamas, I was concerned about the climb, especially at this attitude. Well, it was painful but I did it and was richly rewarded for my efforts. We were trying to figure out how to describe this experience to friends and we all agreed there were not accurate words in our vocabulary to convey the scope of gold, pearls, carvings, gems, incense, monks, rooms, stairs that are in this incredible place. There are no photos allowed in the palace. A man in another group took a photo and it was amazing how much security pounced on him from every direction and took his camera - we were told it would not be returned.
For your last assignment Google "Tibet" and see what you can learn about its fascinating history. A few good videos to watch would be "Seven Years in Tibet" or "Kundun". (I am not certain of the spelling)
By the end of this week I will be back in Las Vegas. I can't believe that I actually feel sad about leaving China - I feel like I have had a glorious love affair with this diverse and incredible country. However, I know that great adventures await me at home. I am looking forward to meeting new students and greeting old students and sharing what I have learned. The old cliche that absence makes the heart grow fonder is true when I think about how much I have missed family and friends. Will see you all soon -
Ms. E. (Mom, Grandma, Patty)
Note: I was going to try and load some more photos but this computer is very slow so will have to share them on my return.