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Published: September 25th 2005
Approaching from the bazaar.
Saturday, September 10, 2005 Weather: Clear and sunny. Temperature: Mid 80's.
The temperature reported above may be misleading. At 12,000' on a sunny day temperatures in the mid 80's can feel really hot. We brought along sun screen with SPF of 44 but mostly forgot to use it. In any event, we were usually in the bus or touring indoors so no serious sunburn occurred.
Today was the visit to the Jokhang Temple. The Potala Palace may be the seat of government for the Buddhist faith but the Jokhang Temple is where the faithful go to worship. The Temple is located at the far end of the Bazaar in a pedestrian only area. Outside are two huge incense urns and in the immediate area can be seen the faithful prostrating themselves in front of the Temple in honor of Buddha. The crowds are mostly there to worship rather than tour. The Temple is toured in a clockwise direction. Fortunately, there are two lines - one for worshipers and one for the tourists. Occasionally they become intermingled. Make no mistake - it is crowded!
As we circle the Temple there are numerous visages of Buddha and hundreds of prayer
Interior courtyard looking up to Dalai Lama's quarters.
wheels that are spun (clockwise, of course) by the worshipers. Offerings are made in both cash and materials items, the most frequent seen being yak butter. It is fairly dark inside and no photographs are permitted. I am pleased to report that our group respected the ban on photography.
We were informed by our guide that Tibetan people save all year to make their offering to Buddha when the visit the Temple. If they are offering cash they do not simply place it all into one plate but distribute it in smaller sums at various shrines representing different aspects of their religion. Possibly a case of not putting all of your Yuan in one basket!
The Temple visit was a complete circle and we exited where we had entered. Then we circled the outside of the Temple - clockwise, of course. There were more prayer wheels being spun by the faithful who were also carrying and spinning their personal prayer wheels (clockwise - of course). Prayer wheels were one of the many things that the vendors had for sale in the market place.
Upon conclusion of the visit to the Jokhang Temple it was time for lunch.
Spinning of the prayer wheels.
Our guide led us to a nearby restaurant where lunch was to be served in about 40 minutes on the second floor. Would you like to guess what was on the first floor? A lovely Gift Shop, of course! We were offered a place to sit and rest for a while and served a cup of tea. No one hassled us to shop. The merchandise was of quality and on the expensive side.
After a brief rest we climbed to the third floor that was actually a rooftop café and garden. This provided us with a nice view of the Bazaar area for photographs and a view of the restaurant's solar heating units. There were several stands holding reflectors over which was supported a kettle. The sun rays were focused on the bottom of the kettle warming the contents. There certainly was not enough water being warmed to even wash the dishes from lunch but I think it was placed there to show the efforts being made to utilize alternative forms of energy.
The schedule for today is quite vigorous. After lunch the group is scheduled to return to the bus to visit the Sera Monastery and then
Faithful prostrating themselves in prayer.
have a home visit with a Tibetan family. The home visit included being served a traditional drink of yak butter and tea. Those who attended later told us that yak butter tastes like lard in your tea. Afterward they will return to the hotel for some rest before departing for dinner. The altitude has us quite tired so we decided to skip the afternoon program and to return to the hotel on our own.
The restaurant in the Bazaar is located on the east end of Lhasa and our hotel is located on the west end of town. No problem, taxis are inexpensive and it costs only 10 Yuan to travel anywhere in town. But wait a minute - we are in the Bazaar and no vehicles are allowed in here. Oh well, we remember the way back to the area where the bus was parked and it is not a long walk. Surely we can find a cab there.
We walked several blocks and found a street full of traffic but no cabs were immediately apparent. As we stopped at the corner there were pedicabs everywhere. When the saw us looking for a cab they circled like
Solar heating of water kettle.
sharks. At one point we were totally encircled by pedicabs seeking our business. At no time did we feel uncomfortable or threatened. The bargaining began!
This would be a long ride for a pedicab, possibly as long as two miles. The bidding started at 50Y that was, of course, ridiculous and they knew that we knew it. I kept offering 10Y, the price that it would cost us in a taxi. Still no taxis in sight! After we wore them down we found one fellow who agreed to make the journey for 15Y and off we went. The pedicab ride gave us a different perspective of the wild traffic of the streets of Lhasa. There is actually a choreography to it. Cars, buses, bicycles and pedicabs just ease into each other's path and eventually everyone gets through the intersection. We arrived safe and sound at the Lhasa Hotel with a journey to remember. Just glad I wasn't the one doing the pedaling!
We enjoyed our rest during the afternoon and were ready to go at the appointed hour for dinner. The dinner was at another restaurant back in the Bazaar and was a typical Chinese dinner like many
of the others we have experienced on the trip. Following dinner we returned to the hotel to pack for our departure from the hotel at 7 a.m. for a 10 a.m. flight that will take us to the Viking Century Sky.
Next: Lhasa to Chengdu to Chonqing and arrival on the Century Sky.
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