Tibet: roof of the world. A place that holds a mystery like none other. A gnawing attraction to get there (which I have no idea why given that I don't really see much reports on the place). Call it the mystery. Call it the unknown. It has drawn me since I know how to travel solo. Probably (and now definitely) is a place that none of my usual travel kakis would travel to.
The trip that I've planned for years finally came true this year. After that attempt last year which got canned due to the self burning incident on 27 May 2012. 2013: a new chance presented itself. I left on the day of my birthday. A new milestone since graduation from poly years back. Graduation trip of sorts one may say.
A Buddhist country by majority. One could see prayer flags lining along the mountains. Different colours of the flags signifies different meanings from the 5 elements. Blue - sky and space. White - air and wind. Red - fire. Green - water and Yellow - earth. Prayer flags are not meant to carry messages from us to the Gods. But rather to 'promote peace. Compassion. Strength and wisdom.' (Wikipedia) Tibetans believe that when the wind blows on the flags. The wind will carry the blessings into the world and thus bringing peace to one and all.
My first glance of Potala Palace from across the river. An ancient palace situated at the highest point in the world. As obvious from this picture. The palace is divided into the Red Palace and the White Palace. The Red Palace is the place where religious study and prayers take place while the White Palace once served as the office building of the Tibet local government (http://www.travelchinaguide.com).
A sunset captured while crossing the river. At one of the highest point of the world. <3
3 different angles of the Potala Palace. From across the lake. To at the square. And lastly at night. Surprisingly when we enter the Palace. We are given a time frame to climb the steps (all 1,528 of them!) and to stay within the Palace. All within an hour. Nothing more. And due to the high altitude. You do get breathless after a couple of flights of steps. =P And no liquid is allowed into the Palace. You can only buy whatever you need once you reach the top. Security is at the 3 entrances and it'll be no surprise that we had to go through at least one.
To a lot of people. Potala Palace is juz another 'old building' with 'some' history. No doubt it's that. But when you see it up close and personal and walk the hallways of the monks and Dalai Lamas who have walked before. A sense of peace prevails over unknowingly. You tend to forget the hustle and bustle of the city life down below and it's a world of its own. A class on its own (almost).
Tibetans pay pilgrimage to Lhasa. A journey which they will do at least once in their lifetime. No matter which part of Tibet they hail from. A pilgrimage to the city of Lhasa is a must. As we walked around Bakhor street. Many faithfuls were seen 'kow tow' around the street. From the young to the old. The male to the female. And even to the handicapped. Each step is done with the devotee clasping the hands to the forehead. Throat. Heart and then he/she will prostrate full length on the ground. Throughout the whole journey without fail. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/13/content_11008302.htm) A scene which touches the hearts of many of us as we could never envision the amount of tolerance level and devotion it muz have taken to start from their home till Lhasa. With many covering kilometers of land in months and even years. *salutez*
And last but not least. A glacier unlike many others. Kharola Glacier. Standing between the prayer posts at the top of a mountain that was 5,020 meters above sea level and the tip of the mountain reaching a staggering 7,191 meters. That was no easy feat. Even given my excellent (if I may say so) health condition. To be breathing in that cold mountainous air was like breathing in ice and my fingers were numbed by the cold even though the temperature was probably around 16 degrees Celsius (which isn't that cold). The UV however is the killer. Dry and strong UV meant I lived in moisturizer daily. =P
Given the chance. I would definitely go back again. Not so much to challenge my body and health to those conditions but coz I really felt at peace during the whole trip and could really let go of my struggles. Seeing those sights that not all (or even majority) of the people would want to was really something that spurred me on. I never regretted travelling or having such a place on my bucket list. BUT. I am proud to say I've conquered the highest country in the world and came back in one piece. =)
Would you want to go and take a look? =)