Here are my entries from days three and four in Tibet! The picture above is of me and my friend Chelsea in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
“This morning we first went to the Potala Palace, which I am able to remember the name of because I keep thinking Portabella (as in mushroom) palace. The Potala Palace is probably the most famous ‘touristy’ place in Tibet. It is seriously spectacular, and holds so much Buddhist significance. It honestly doesn’t look real. After seeing this palace and the monasteries the other day, I’m starting to realize how deeply religious Lhasa and Tibet in general are. Everywhere you look people are wearing traditional dress or carrying around prayer wheels, meant to accumulate karma. Also in the center of Lhasa is the most important Tibetan Buddhist Temple, considered the Mecca of Tibetan Buddhism, suggesting that every Tibetan Buddhist should visit it once in their lifetime. We paid for tickets to get inside and coincidentally got to see a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, which apparently can only be seen on rare occasions and is very significant in Tibetan Buddhism. So in summary, what’s been my most striking discovery of the day is the deeply religious, and specifically Buddhist, sentiment evident in Tibetan culture.”
“This morning must have been the most insanely crazy morning I have ever had in my life. We woke up at 5:00 so that we could go to the Yoghurt Festival, which only happens once a year. It turns out, to all of our surprise, that there is no yogurt at this festival, but is rather significant for its religious value. This “festival” takes place at one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Tibet, and the significance of the festival is based on a large tapestry with the image of a Buddha. As cool as the actual scenery and Buddhist significance was, however, the clear stand out of the morning was the absolute insanity and chaos of the crowd. Thousands upon thousands of people all climbing a mountain (literally, climbing!) is something I have definitely never experienced before. I also stood out more there than I had ever stood out before, as I was the only one tall enough to see above the crowd! There was security everywhere, but as much as they tried to control the people, no one listened. They ended just being there to make sure people didn’t fall off the cliff, rather than making sure they stayed on the path. Insanity is seriously the only word to describe it, and even that may be an understatement. The rest of the day, as we were all so tired, we just walked around Lhasa and hung out. It’s been great getting to know everyone – it’s a really good group of people.”