Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Arriving in Lhasa

The forbidden city. The capital of Tibet. The home of the Dalai Lamas. The Potala palace. The Jokhang. The Norbulinka.
I ride on the bus towards the Forbidden city listening to Kansas and the big chinese billboards pass by the divine Tibetan landscape. Its very strange.

We get stopped by the police 3 or 4 times on our way to the big smoke. They check our passports, they check our visa, they check out our driver and guide.
We drive along round the mountains, by the lake and it looks so magic.
On the sides of the mountains and hills are ladders painted in white, wishing people long life. There are paintings of buddha on the sides of the mountains and hills too. But no political graffiti.
After passing the last 'traditional' Tibetan house and going through the new tunnel through the mountain we get into Lhasa.

There are 60th anniversary decorations everywhere celebrating the 'liberation' of Tibet in 1949.

There are shopping malls and stalls and people and wide roads and steak houses and alot of armed guards. Platoons of them patrol the streets. But people just get on with their business.
 Dirty old prayer flags hang from the bridge going across into town. I know that putting prayer flags up in a lot of Lhasa is now forbidden. The once Forbidden city is now open to tourists, but closed to prayer flags.
Irrespective of the gulf between what Lhasa was and what it is now, i was very upbeat, think of all the travellers that went before me, all the amazing events that took place in this great city, the sadness, the happiness, the culture that lived untouched for so long.
And then you get treated to something that i'll never forget. My first view of the Potala palace. I didn't take a photo right at that moment cause i was too busy enjoying it. It is truley magnificent. Totally majestic sitting high up and looking down on all the crap that's happened. It's totally awesome. And the next day i was gonna turn 29 and go and visit it.
Here's a photo from the top of our hotel the next morning, so you get the picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment