|For a moment I considered naming this entry "War and Peace" because of the juxtaposition between the peaceful Buddhists visiting the Jokhang Temple and the menacing Chinese military marching around the temple in formation with submachine guns and shields, SWAT written on the back of your jackets. Security is high everywhere we go, party due to the government, and partly due to the 19th Party Congress that will meet October 18. We go through multiple security screenings to get into a site, including of our bags going onto conveyer belts to be X-rayed. In Xi'an our carry on was screened before we could enter the hotel as members of the party were staying at Hiltons all over China before the main event. In Beijing the night before we left, all computers were shut down. I makes me happy to live where I do, even when I am unhappy about many things our current government is doing.
The Jokhang Temple is the most holy place in Tibet. Tibetans come from around the country for a pilgrimage to the temple. They first circle the temple clockwise by rolling their way around on their stomachs, and finally enter the temple. Outside the entrance pilgrims repeat the same motions before entering. Locals may only do up to 10 repetitions, others 1,000. In all of the temples is the odor of yak butter candles; this is NOT the aromatherapy we have in the U.S. I think the incense that is burned is to cover the smell.
After we toured the temple we took a stroll around Barkor Square, the area that surrounds the temple. It is an area of narrow streets with activity and shopping. Everyone walks clockwise around the temple, except the military. They really know how to mark their presence in this peaceful place.
While Diana went into a store to look at something I stood outside people watching. Several of the women in the pictures returned my smile as they walked past, and two reached out to hold my hand for a moment while they passed. Many do not want their picture taken, others welcome you with open arms.