Friday, August 27, 2010

Jokang Temple and Sera Monastery

After more noodles last night and a yummy omelette for breakfast we headed off to the centre of old Lhasa - to Barkhour Square. Its this the pilgrims have been circling and we were allowed to go in for 15min to see the splendours inside. The temple hasn't been renovated like the Potala Palace and the centuries of butter lamp smoke have blackened the walls but the central buddha still shines brightly, and the woodwork where the people have past and held the wood has a brilliant patina. The floors were coated in many years of butter too so it was quite slippery under foot. After our brief glimpse we headed up on to the roof where there were lots of golden chimneys and a stunning view across to the Potala Palace. Above the crowds we could easily take pictures, even of the stamping soldiers. The ladies mending the roof were rhythmically tamping it into place and singing, very lovely. Under the square there was a butter lamp manufacturer , where there were a few lads continuously pouring melted butter into the little brass goblets and putting in wicks. There were also a couple of ladies already lighting them. The floor was super slippery and the room really hot. Then we joined the throng and made a circuit of the temple before heading to the 'First West Cake House' for excellent muffins and lemonade.

This afternoon we saddled up and took Gongcho on his first cycle in years, up to the Sera Monastery. the roads were busy but we mostly had our own cycle path, even though it was used by cars and bikes going in both directions. The breathing was good! and we recovered easily after the little climb to the security post. Then on foot we wandered around what must have been a hive of activity, it was quite strange to see it as an open air museum with a handful of monks. At 3 on the dot a gong was sounded and all the tourists headed into a courtyard to watch the younger monks testing each other on the scriptures, making the hands in acknowledgment of correct answers. It was fun to watch and they all see to be having a good time, but it was rather goldfish-bowl-esque. Then a longer route back to the hotel,circling the Potala Palace and braving the traffic. Time for a little more cake and a rest/shower (its been about 25C) before dinns and then tomorrow we'll try a long distance!

1 comment:

laura hunt said...

Sounds like you're having a great time ... although a little too much yak for my taste! Good luck on the bike ride, will be checking your blog to see how you're getting on :)

Can't wait to see the pics too - sounds amazing. Were the security people in Lhasa Chinese? Makes me worry a bit about stuff like that - have you read 'To Tibet with Love' by Isobel Losada? Think you would like it after visiting there.

Take care and good cycling xx

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