Lhasa, day 3, acclimatization complete!

In Lhasa, the city police, military, security police, and several other uniformed, gun-toting officials makes for a very weird experience while walking around.  It’s impossible, and I mean absolutely impossible to walk for more than a few minutes without seeing groups of uniformed officers.  The military travel in groups of five, one carrying a rifle, one a fire extinguisher (presumably NOT to put out fires).  Others travel in larger or smaller groups.  There are armed guards in front of every official-looking building, of which there are many.   And tonight I saw 20 police with full riot gear: shields, helmets, and batons.  A riot in Lhasa?

Today I was cycling over a bridge and stopped in a pedestrian pull-out area to take this innocuous photo of the snow-capped mountains down river.  An army guard appeared out of nowhere and started yelling at me (in Chinese) and pointing to my camera.  Apparently there is a restriction on taking photos of mountains from bridges, I guess. Anyway, it’s all very creepy.

There is a Muslim section of Lhasa with all the butcher shops.  Apparently Buddhists don’t approve of the killing of animals, so that job is relegated to the Muslims.

Look closely, not a great photo, but I had to shoot fast.  Lhasa is filled with people riding bicycle carts selling or carrying every imaginable item.  But selling goldfish?  Now that’s original.

We visited Braille Without Borders for a tour of their small school.  It’s quite an amazing story of how a blind German woman traveled to Tibet in the 80’s by herself to set up a school for blind kids.  In Tibet, and China, blindness was, and in many rural areas still is considered a curse.  Children were often locked in their rooms or worse, tied to their beds.  Our guide, as a child, was not allowed even to dress herself because her parents said she was not capable.  The are not allowed to attend school with sighted kids even to this day in rural villages.  This charity helps educate them, and it’s quite a moving experience to see.  This little girl sang a song for us in an amazingly strong voice for such a small person.

The wall behind the Potala Palace has over a thousand prayer wheels.  This line of wheels goes on and on and on with a constant stream of people praying and spinning.

The front of Potala Palace

These girls were singing songs and tamping down the dirt floor. They invited us to participate.  I’m not sure how efficient it was, but it certainly made for good theater.

Now I expected to see a lot of prayer flags in Tibet, but the shear quantity in this spot was something.  These flags are over a spillway that connected to the Lhasa River.  I’m sure there is some significance to this spot, but we couldn’t figure it out.

~ by Robert on May 20, 2011.

2 Responses to “Lhasa, day 3, acclimatization complete!”

  1. Love the goldfish vendor! What the hell??


  2. Robert,
    These images are quite beautiful. Hope you are enjoying your trip. Best thomas


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