during our first day in tibet, both the boy and i got completely swept up in the sensational, fascinating tide of devotion and color and energy in the city of lhasa. looking back at these pictures now i am reminded of how remarkable and uniquely exciting this place is. we absolutely loved our time there and were totally enchanted.
our week in tibet was spent with a tour group (you actually cannot enter tibet without a guide and a group) and we loved getting to know our fellow travelers. day one in lhasa included a tour of the potala palace (the home of the dalai lama before he went into exile) and the jokhara temple (the center of tibetian buddhism) and then some free time on our own exploring the old town. we learned a lot about the history of this tremendously interesting spot on earth and took in so many different, delightful sensations. what a truly special place.
^^ the potala palace is so imposing and magnificent, looming over the city. we had watched the movie seven years in tibet (we highly recommend it!) before our trip and were so excited to see this amazing structure in real life. ^^
^^ tibetian architecture, we came to realize, is so distinct. i think my favourite thing was watching the omnipresent short curtains above the windows billow in the breeze. ^^
^^ it was very crowded, but very very exciting to be there. ^^
^^ to get to the front door of the potala palace, you must climb a lot of steps. it makes for a grand entrance! ^^
^^ so. many. colors!!! ^^
^^ we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but there was a lot of this type of wall paintings, along with thoooooousands of statues of buddah, dalai lamas and other religious leaders. the inside was like a big maze of rooms with thrones and shrines and it was packed with pilgrims, many leaving offerings of money or yak butter, and monks, mostly studying in quiet, well-lit corners. it’s so hard to describe but it was so, so, so cool. ^^
^^ color!!! my kind of place. ^^
^^ the view from the back side of the palace as we came back downstairs was awesome. ^^
^^ we had lunch on this busy street. that meal was our first experience with yak meat, which we really loved and ate a ton of in tibet and nepal! ^^
^^ we were so very impressed with the devotion of the tibetian people. everywhere they were praying and showing such devout faithfulness to their beliefs. the prayer wheels like this beautiful woman has in her hand were being spun all over. ^^
^^ we walked through the bustling and full-to-the-brim-with-life-and-color streets of lhasa to the jokhara temple. ^^
^^ again, no pictures inside, but this gives you a good idea of how colorful and ornate everything was! ^^
^^ the views from jokhara temple were our favourite part of the day. isn’t that palace just so majestic? ^^
^^ again, incredible devotion. people were prostrating themselves on the ground in front of the temple over and over and over again - dozens, maybe even hundreds of times (you can see some above in mid motion). ^^
^^ during our free time, we decided to walk the barkhor kora (pilgrim circuit) around the jokhara temple. as is customary, hundreds of tibetian buddhists were moving clockwise on a road that encircles the temple and it was so so so neat to get swept up in their wave and walk with them. (there were also many others on the street going about their normal daily business. one thing that amazed us about tibet is how integrated spiritual and temporal life seemed to be.)^^
^^ and again, amazing displays of devotion. this woman wasn’t letting anything stop her from walking around the temple to show her faithfulness. ^^
^^ we peeled off onto a side street and happened across this amazing food market, which actually turned out to be a huge supermarket with loads of different aisles. i love this kind of stuff – just seeing how people live their day-to-day life (like grocery shopping). it was so fun to explore in there. ^^
^^ so much yak butter! i believe this is used both for flavoring food and as an offering in temples. ^^
^^ so many shops bursting with color back on the streets. ^^
^^ we saw probably two dozen shops just like this one! lots of buddah statues! ^^
^^ this is the courtyard at our hotel. i just love those prayer flags and that distinctive tibetian architecture! ^^
seriously, i can’t emphasize enough how magical lhasa is. we so enjoyed and appreciated a peek into this special place, teeming with color and devotion and life.