Travel Journal

Outside Lhasa (Tibet)

(Saturday 16 February 2008) by Lynda
After some time to acclimatize in Lhasa it was time to explore the
Made it to the top!!!!!
Made it to the top!!!!!
Tibetan countryside. We formed our own expedition team (Ville from Finland, Laurence from England, Ulri from Germany, Liu Ning from China and me) and we took the morning bus to Ganden monastery, 40 km outside of Lhasa. After a great trip over a long and winding road we arrived at the monastery at an elevation of 4.600m. This monastery has been the main seat of the Gelugpa order since the foundation in 1409. We climbed the higher kora, very hard climbing at that altitude but the views of the monastery and the valley are amazing. We reached the top that must have been somewhere close to the 5.000m, completely out of breath. At the top the pilgrims burn juniper incense and give offerings and we hung our prayer flags from the top.

Happy New Year!!!
Happy New Year!!!
Next day we took the bus to Lhasa bridge to join the Tibetans celebrating the Losar festival. On the 3rd day of the Losar festival the Tibetans hang prayer flags on the mountains, change the flags on their rooftops, make offerings (fake money and burn juniper incense) and simply celebrate on the mountains. We climbed yet another mountain (ok, it was more of a high hill, but still hard to climb when there is not enough oxygen) and watched the people around us. The atmosphere on the mountain was great, everybody was cheerful and greeting us, helping us climb the mountain and sharing it all with us.
On my last day in Tibet I visited Drepung monastery 8 km outside of Lhasa. In 1530 the second Dalai Lama established the Ganden Palace and this palace was home to the Dalai Lamas until the fifth Dalai Lama built the Potala in Lhasa. It was from here that the early Dalai Lamas exercised their control over central Tibet and the second, third and fourth Dalai Lama are entombed here. During it's peak period some 2.000 monks were living here. Today there are around 800 monks still living here. Drepung monastery is more like a small town with all its buildings, temples and an enormous kitchen!

Tibet was a great experience and I'm really glad that I made it to see this beautiful but oh so complicated country. It's very clear to see that the Chinese are taking over the whole country and the Tibetans are already sort of a minority in their own country. But the great thing is that Tibetans are still welcoming to foreigners visiting their country. They first stare at you but when you smile at them, you get big smiles back, wonderful people and it's a shame I only visit Lhasa now, would be amazing to see the rest of the country. But unfortunately, it's not the right season to explore the countryside, most roads are frozen over and sites are inaccessible. But I've got a taste of it and I'm sure I will be back to see more of this amazing and beautiful country!

I'm back in Chengdu at the moment, waiting for a train ticket to the north of China but OH NOOOO, Chinese New-Year hit again. The celebrations are over now but every Ho, Li and Wong has to get back home or back to work and is queuing at the train station. At this moment the queue is 3 DAYS long! So I think i just wait for a bit until everything is back to normal here!

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