Taking the Long Way travel blog

The main square

Yak butter sellers. The butter is used in offerings inside the monastery.

Prostrating pilgrims

Apprarantly most of them prostrate themselves all day, every day for a...

Jokhang temple

View of Potala Palace from Jokhang Temple

The prostrating pilgrims below


The other side of Jokhang


I think one sign says no bugles...good thing i left mine behind

Gardens in Lhasa (that are all just strategically arranged potted plants)

Downtown Lhasa

I have no explanation for this foil covered motorbike

Yaks being delivered to the butcher

The delivery man, his bike and trailer even has a licence plate!

I can't decide between these icecreams...pea or corn flavour??

Yak candy in the supermarket

Tibetan fashion

Military guarding outside a primary school

Not the easy access slot in the back of the baby's pants...no...

Garbage collectors

All kinds of transport here

Entering Sera monastery...no hullaballooing apparantly.


In the monastery grounds

Yak butter that has been poured on the tree for good luck



Inside one of the many chapels, you have to pay in each...


Monks debating





Caught napping on the job

View from the restaurant where the 6th Dalai Lama used to hang...

Fried potato stuffed with yak--INCREDIBLE, so delicious!!!!!


Yesterday involved a trip out to the Jokhang Temple in the heart of Lhasa. The Jokhang is the most revered structure in Tibet, thick with the smell of yak butter, echoing with the murmur of mantras and bustling with pilgrims. The temple is sourrounded externally by pilgrims prostrating themselves repeatedly before the Jokhang and the line of pilgrims snakes out well past the entrance.

There are dozens of chapels inside (where photography is prohibited) and the pilgrims visit each one, pouring their yak butter into lamps to bring them good luck and praying and some times prostrating inside each one. The chapels contain an assortment of gilded statues of and related to Buddha, encrusted with coral, diamonds and other precious and semi-precious stones. The combination of yak butter and incence was enough to make me gag at times although noone else seemed to mind.

The yak butter that is offered up by the pilgrims has to be of the finest quality and is considered the best offering one can make; and quite practical too, keeps the lamps burning all day. The downside to all that butter is that inevitably there is spillage which makes for very slippery and very grimy floors. The floors seems to be swept fairly regularly but never mopped so the dirt just accumulates and mixes with the butter. Then when you throw in the added factor of very steep and uneven staircases to get from chapel to chapel, well, its an accident waiting to happen.

Funny thing is the accident that I knew was going to happen didn’t happen in the Jokhang at all. Instead as Monica and I came out of a restaurant after lunch, somehow I must have tripped over the door frame and promptly fell on the footpath, bruising both my ankle and my pride. No real injury sustained and provide a good laugh for me, Monica and all the locals who were watching.

After lunch we went to look around the supermarket and found it fascinating that there were more shop assistants than customers and how overly eager they were to help us, even though they spoke no English. And the stock was unusual to say the least; a bewildering array of pre-packaged chicken bits, yak candy, pea and corn icecream and a million other things that I had never seen before and plenty that I couldn’t even identify.

In the afternoon we all caught a bus out to the Sera Monastery about 5kn north of Lhasa to watching the monks debating in the monastery’s debating courtyard. Sera used to be home to about 5000 monks but many of the monks have gone ‘missing’ and now only several hundred remain. The monastery has many assembly halls and chapels for pray similar to Jokhang with the difference being you are allowed to photograph inside Sera; for a fee. Each room requires 10-20Yuan payment if you want to take a photo, outrageous when there are so many rooms. The video fee is even more ridiculous, being 850Yuan per room!

The monks debate in their courtyard in small groups from 3.30pm to 5.30pm each day. It’s a lively, interactive activity that is fun to watch even though its not in English.

In the evening we headed out to Makye Amye, a bar/resturant overlooking Barkor Square. If the stories are to be believed, this was once a drinking haunt of the 6th Dalai Lama, who met the famed Tibetan beauty Makye Amye there and composed a famous poem about her. I have my doubts… The food there is mostly very bad but I did have the MOST incredible entrée there; fried potato balls stuffed with buffalo (or yak, I’m not sure which). It was the nicest local dish I have had in months.

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