First Day Sightseeing In Lhasa

on Thursday, 6 May 2010

Today is our first day sightseeing in Lhasa and firstly we are visiting the Potala palace, the palace of the Dalai Lama. We have leave at 8am and people are moaning about leaving a few minutes late. We arrive at the Potala palace and as soon as we get in, a guy from our group takes of his top to reveal a free Tibet t-shirt and has his photo taken in front of the palace.

We have to rush round the palace a bit as tour groups are only allowed one hour to try and keep down the number of people inside the palace at one time. We have not been allowed to take any drinks in, so inside I buy a bottle of what I think is fruit juice. I just see some strawberries and blueberries on the front. It’s not until I taste it and it tastes dreadful that I realise it has Tomatoes in as well. It’s absolutely revolting, but I give it to the guide and he seems to really enjoy it. We walk into one room and a man is having a real go at a women, who is apologising profusely and keeps bowing. We find out she is a guide and she has said something incorrect and has had a real telling off. One room includes a massive Buddha made of 3716kg of gold. There are loads more Buddha’s and there must be easily ten times as much gold in the whole place. We work out the single Buddha has about 130 million pounds worth of gold and the monastery must have a billion pounds in total. From the Potala palace we get a cab to the laptop place and finally after about thirty minutes of trying to explain they say it is possible and they will charge 13000Y, but this is still cheaper than quoted in Kathmandu and is a more reputable place. We walk back to the hotel and come across a meat shop selling pigs snouts, trotters, chicken feet and allsorts of other weird meats.

On the way back we also get an ice cream, they have sweet corn flavour and pea flavour lollies. I get  a pea flavoured lolly and it is one of the most revolting things I have ever tasted. We get back and then have another monastery to visit. This monastery is a bit disappointing and is pretty much a huge building site. We find out that the guy who was wearing the free Tibet t-shirt has been arrested and taken to the police station. Apparently he had shown the guide the t-shirt and the guide had apparently had to report it to the police. The couple who were arrested were asked some really strange questions on their views about Tibet and China and the guide who is still with us is really worried about losing his job. He has to leave half way through the tour to go to the tourism office to be questioned. I buy a few souvenirs at the monastery which I think I have got down pretty cheaply. We get back to the hotel and have finally got our train tickets and find that we have paid £50 more than the face value which is a bit annoying but we didn’t have any other choice as it was a condition to get the visa. We have decided to have a poker tournament and had got 880Jiao from the bank, each jiao is about the equivalent of one pence, but the it’s in note form, so we had huge piles of cash on the table. We have a lot of beers as well and end up playing poker for about four hours. I finish second and another British guy we have got together with called Jack wins the lot, all £8.80 of it.


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