We Tackle the Potala

The Potala Palace is absolutely magical. It sits high on a hill overlooking the city and it is difficult to imagine how it could have been constructed. It is really impressive, until you start the climb. Holy cow. I nearly died. Thank god we had spent at least a day acclimatizing. You cannot believe how many stairs there are! As we approached the entrance, we were surrounded by hundreds of Chinese soldiers. I am not sure if they were there for training, sightseeing or indoctrination, but I have to admit it is a bit strange to enter the Potala, former home of the Dalai Lama, with the PLA at my side.

Potala Palace 2

Potala Palace Entry

Above: A majestic view. Below: Notice the PLA soldiers entering the Potala.

Everyone says that there is not much to see inside, and I guess that is true. There are a few spectacular tombs of former Dalai Lamas, covered in gold and semi-precious stones and lots of beautiful and detailed wall paintings.

I had read that there was an involved process in getting entrance tickets, something like going the day before to get an appointment to return the next day to buy tickets, !? In the winter, you just walk up to the front door, pay 100RMB and go on in.

Directly across the street from the palace is a public park. If I am correct in my interpretation, a huge statue in the park memorializes the “peaceful liberation of the Tibetan people by the PRC.” No comment.

Potala Park

After the Potala, we headed back over to the Barkhor area to walk the kora again and do some souvenir shopping. The entire kora route is lined with souvenir stalls and shops. You’ve gotta do some hard bargaining, but there are some good deals to be had.

Shopping in the Barkhor

Back at the hotel, the DH, in his classic style, decided to take advantage of the brilliant sun to soak up some Vitamin D.

Rooftop Sunning

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