I start the day off with a slightly nagging headache (no thanks to altitude sickness), and so I decide to try the Tibetan staple food called the ‘tsampa’. Who knows it might ward off the friggin’ headache. It’s basically barley flour mixed with yak butter and tea, and the whole concoction is stirred like eating oats or something. It tastes rather odd, especially the yak butter, and after 3 spoons, I give up! So much about trying to be a Tibetan.
Soon we are in our comfy mini-bus.
Along the way in downtown Lhasa, an army post with battle-ready personnel. Sort of describes the currrent sentiments.
Our friend, Lotse, will be the host cum guide. Without him, we are not able to visit sites or leave Lhasa. Born and bred in Lhasa, a true blue Tibetan. Speaks excellent English with a tinge of dark humour. Good bloke.
We are at a major monastery called Drepung.
More info …
Huffing and puffing my way up the stone steps, made laborious by the thin oxygen, I’m rewarded with a great view.
Even better here … that’s the Lhasa river down there. We are at 3,730m above sea level, almost as high as Mt Kinabalu.
My first encounter with the spinning prayer wheels. Quite heavy, lubricated with yak butter, what else, and seem to be brass. Anyway they spin rather well as I say my prayer.
I have no clue why they like to build monasteries at forbidding spots like this. I guess the tougher the better.
Sacred paintings on some huge boulders up the mountain. No, we are not going there.
A monk tenderly looks after his little garden. They must be celibate by the way.
A monastery window.
Facade of the monastery main building …
… but we are accessing it via more steps along a side alley.
Drupend prides itself as a ‘university’ for monks and this is their main lecture hall. There are now some 1,000 monks studying here. They started before dawn, and now the class is empty as they are back in their rooms resting.
More marvellous Tibetan architecture.
View from the top of the monastery. Note the sacred ornaments on the roof and compare them to facade pic above.
But still, everybody, monks or otherwise, need some creature comfort.
Photogs will shoot anything, even a monastery tabby cat.
Resting on the steps at the main entrance to the monastery, as restoration work progresses below.
Another splendid view of the Lhasa valley.
Time to go back to the car park.
Reminds me of the lanes of the white villages of Andalucia.
Near the exit, the monks’ quarters and a stupa.
Spartan-looking monks’ accommodation block faces the car park.
Off we go for lunch in downtown Lhasa now!