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Potala Palace just got served

 

Despite getting my first 8+ hour night of sleep in probably over a week, I nevertheless woke up with symptoms of acute mountain sickness (a slight fever, headache, dry mouth, not unlike a hangover). So I doubled up on my Diamox from 125mg to 250mg twice a day accompanied by 600mg of Ibuprofen. Along with a little bit of breakfast, this started to get me feeling better in 30 minutes.

Then we climbed up to the top of our hotel for an 8:30am breakfast and accompanying views over Lhasa at sunrise and moonfall.

 

Photo Credit: Shanika Jayakody

 

Our first stop of the morning was the top site in Lhasa: Potala Palace. Originally built in the 7th century AD by King Songtsen Gyalpo for his 2 foreign wives, it was destroyed by lightning many years later before being rebuilt by the 5th Dalai Lama in 3 years, with subsequent extensions leading up to the 13th Dalai Lama to transform the palace into what it is now. It is officially the winter residence for the Dalai Lamas (and their tombs), with the palace in Norbulinka as their summer residence. Just 4 years ago I was at the current residence of the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala, India (and it was his birthday too!).

Over 300 steps and 14 stories tall, there are a lot of stairs to climb. Don’t be stupid like me and make sure you are fully acclimated to the altitude before taking this on!

 

 

I’ve been wanting to come here for years, so I milk my time here.

 

 

The Chinese make sure you remember which country you’re in:

 

 

We begin our climb:

 

 

Once you reach the floor of the White Palace, photography from here on out is forbidden.

 

 

The “14th floor” marks the official residence of the Dalai Lama:

 

 

We tried our best to give an idea of what it looks like inside given that the no-photography rule is strictly enforced, but this is the best we could come up with:

 

Photo Credit: Shanika Jayakody

 

After spending an hour touring the dizzying array of prayer rooms, residences, meeting halls and tomb chambers of the past Dalai Lamas, we headed back down on the backside of the palace.

 

 

We then drove onwards to Norbulingka Summer Palace: the official summer residence of the Dalai Lama with the most recent complex being that of the present and 14th Dalai Lama who fled in exile in 1956.

 

 

Photography is also not allowed inside, but enforcement was much more lax here than at Potala Palace:

 

Photo Credit: Shanika Jayakody

 

Near the exit stands the official (and yet unused) throne of the current and 14th Dalai Lama:

 

 

And if you look closely on the left wall (if facing the throne) is the only photograph of the 14th Dalai Lama allowed to be posted in Tibet:

 

 

We recharged with lunch consisting of yak steak, momos, Schezuan noodles at Lhasa Steakhouse:

 

 

Our last stop of the day was Sera Monastery, famous for its tantric teachings and the public display of monks who debate with one another in public.

 

 

Inside are the mandalas composed of the famously elaborate Tibetan sandpainting:

 

 

By the main Sera Monastery is a public park where standing student monks debate intensely over their teachers sitting on the ground, both challenging each other on different ways of thinking and seeing the world:

 

 

Then there is the monastery itself, where about 800 monks train and meditate:

 

Photo Credit: Shanika Jayakody

 

Afterwards, Melissa and Shanika headed out to a local supermarket next door to hunt for postcards and came back with some great photos. All of the following are Shanika’s:

 

 

Tonight is Melissa’s last night as we recuperate in our hotel rooms and reflect on our trip in the past 2 weeks. We’re going to miss you Melissa! 
– At time of posting in Lhasa, China, it was 26.6 °F
Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: 6km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear