We returned to Lhasa the same way we had come. The other way was much controlled by the police apparently and although it is shorter, it takes longer due to frequent police stops. After a brief attempt at getting our hotel management to guarantee that we would have a hot shower in the morning, a room suddenly became available at the Shambhala Palace to which we were moved.
We got back in time to have a wander around the market and then went to Dunya for dinner, where Terry had a wonderful chicken and homemade Tibetan egg noodle soup and Geoff had yak steak with gravy and fries. The best part of the meal, though, was the fried spinach and mushrooms with vinegar, garlic and sesame seeds. It was OUTSTANDING!
(Ed. Note: On the way back from dinner, I decided it was time for a hair cut, so we stopped in at this salon.
We brought in lots of visitors. The woman doing the first cut also did the washing (below). She then moved through the heavy stuff with what could be termed reckless abandon. Terry was getting concerned but I assured her that was normal since it is always quite thick. Don’t know what the kid’s role was, except to supervise. Then a second woman came in (the one with her back to me) – I guess she was the professional and the other the apprentice. Anyway, she did a good job, but then I said I wanted just a little more off. Apparently Lhasa stylists don’t have the same number of razor heads as they do back home. Terry was pretty much apoplectic with her new bald husband. However, as I always say, the difference between a good cut and a bad cut is just two weeks, although it may take a little longer this time).
(Ed. Note #2: I know – you want a picture – you will just have to wait. Cost: $2.50 which is likely $2.25 more than what it cost my father in Canada the last time it was this short.)
The room is larger and nicer but the shower still only warmish, after running only hot for 5 minutes but at least tolerable instead of cold. We were exhausted, both from the “thin air” and also from incomplete sleeps on nights on the train, and we slept well for the first time since arriving. We had originally planned to drive on this day to another beautiful lake some miles away but decided against it, which turned out to be a good decision. Jamyiang’s friend, another guide, phoned him while we were out to say that they were stopped on the mountain pass due to snow and within a few hours, had had to return to Lhasa. Meanwhile, we visited the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace.
We were told that the story may be real or myth or somewhere in between but it goes like this: when the Chinese arrived to take the Dalai Lama, they and all of Tibet believed that he was in the Potala Palace. Soldiers surrounded it and two bombs were blasted towards it. Smoke completed obscured the building and Tibetans fell down in the streets, screaming and crying for the loss of their beloved leader and the holy palace. Three hours later, the smoke cleared and the palace remained. It was only a week later that it was revealed that the Dalai Lama had not been in the palace at all, but was instead at the Summer Palace. According to this story, he escaped Tibet dressed as a soldier of the Chinese army.
The Summer Palace is a peaceful place, full of gardens and trees and remarkable history inside the buildings. On one wall, the entire history of Tibet, starting with the first god, his descendants (a monkey is involved) and the creation of heaven and hell are illustrated and described in Tibetan script. In other rooms, newer history is written and even Chairman Mao is pictured in an earlier age, in happier times. There is a throne room where some say the Dalai Lama sat and some say no, he was gone before it was complete. Nonetheless, it is impressive and feels very spiritual and peaceful to be there. Due to political reasons, there is only one painting of the 14th and present Dalai Lama and it is in the room where the Dalai Lama’s throne is.
Next we were able to visit a nunnery, where pictures are allowed. Geoff’s video may give an idea of the chanting that they perform for hours at a stretch. I was happy to go into a tiny room and see a nun reading a holy book. We had seen many of these in monasteries and temples, tucked away in drawer-like boxes, so I was curious to know what they actually looked like–see the attached picture.
Finally, we had sweet tea, a necessity to daily life in Tibet, prepared and served in the nun’s tea house.
So our trip is coming to a close. We left Jamyiang and walked in and out of busy lanes and markets, bargaining for a few last souvenirs and catching final glimpses of daily Tibetan life. In a few minutes, we will head out for our last meal in Lhasa, then return home to rest and prepare to depart in the morning. It has been a fantastic journey, one that has been beyond amazing. We are privileged to be here and to have seen this remarkable place and its people.
(Ed. note: I am sorry to those who wait with baited breath for the shoe photo. It had been put on hold for the trip, since the Tibetans aren’t really into foot destroying attire. However, upon our return and my trip to the grocery store today, I saw these and, what can I say? Here they are – even if they are a tad small for her.)