Thursday, August 26, 2010
Potala Palace and Barkhour Square
After a bit of a noisy night (lots of horns on the main road) we had tsampa and fruit for breakfast, the tsampa was a bit like ready brek! Then we hot footed it down to the Potala Palace, but our allotted entrance time wasn't til 9 so we hung about the gardens and took some photos. Then we were allowed in and started climbing up the steps - a hard job, Zoe said her heart rate was three times its normal. At the top we came in to a courtyard and entered into the palace itself. There were many beautiful paintings and many many Buddhas, tombs from Dalai Lamas, covered in gold. turquoise and other precious stones, including elephant pearl, which apparently comes from their brains (didn't fancy that much!). We only had a short time and soon we were out on the other side descending the steps to a large lake where we caught the bus over to the Summer Palace. This was set in beautiful gardens and filled with flowers in pots. The rooms were smaller but no less ornate. The Tibetan white and blue drapes they use for celebratory tents hung above doorways and windows making a very jolly air. By 11.30 we were all starving (apparently you use more calories at altitude!) so we set of for lunch back near the old part of Lhasa. We went up some steps and found a large room with low benches and ordered lots of noodles and some yak momos, but unfortunately the momosd turned out to be filled with yak cheese - really horrible! Sort of sweet and crunchy and yaky/goaty! The butter tea was similar, with lots of salt in too. While we were having lunch Gongcho got a phone call saying the bikes had arrived from Kathmandu on the truck, so we scarpered back to the hotel to assemble them and make sure they were working. An hour or so later it was done, I had also visited the bank and changed some money (making the teller giggle when I asked for small notes and receiving a really big wad!). Then out to find some puncture patches and postcards before browsing through the market in Barkour Square. We always seemed to be heading against the tide of pilgrims but we saw all kinds of interesting things - lots of massive pieces of amber and turquoise, ancient stirrups and bells, rugs, national costumes and much more. We went to a covered market and stocked up on boiled sweets and biscuits for our trip. Tomorrow we'll take our first cycle out to Sera monastery, but first its time to put the feeties up and have a rest!