Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter in Lhasa

This winter (January 2010) I did my first trip to Tibet proper. Though intensive traveling through Amdo and Kham, this was a completely new experience, not only because of the required Tibet entry permit and the related hassle.
Temple building at Dengsatil Gompa

The first days, of course, sightseeing in Lhasa has been on my schedule.
Here is a photo of the Lhasa's old town Barkhor - the place where Tibetans "can still be found". It is bitter, but in the other parts of Lhasa Tibetans are heavily outnumbered by Han-Chinese.
Drepung Monastery - where everything began - the March-2008-Riots

In Tibet you often can find empty cardboard boxes just in the middle of a busy crossroad. These are so called "Ghost Traps". They are filled with neat little puppets made of butter and Tsampa, and shall take away evil spirits from sick people.

Remote view of Potala Palace

The next are some pictures from Lhasa River.

Daytime temperatures are quite warm (in the sun), while at night temperatures drop down to -20 Centigrade. If the sun is shining, you can burn one foot in the hot sand while freezing the other on an ice shell.

The Lhasa River is a tributary of the Brahmaputra - in Tibet called "Yarlung Tsangpo".

As a result of hundreds of years of animal (goats and yaks) husbandry and disastrous forestry management along the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley this area (and not alone) almost became a desert.

After a few days in Lhasa David and I took a bus to Dedrom Gompa and the nearby hot springs.
Dedrom is quite an old nunnery and famous for its hot springs.

Nearby is an important Monastery of the Kagyupa Sect: Drigungtil Gompa. The attached sky burial site is busy almost every early morning. It is famous all over Tibet and people who want to have a good rebirth want their body to be buried here.

The surrounding mountains offer some nice hiking opportunities. A day-hike brings you to frozen waterfalls, windy passes...
...and maybe...
to some wildlife (here Gorals), too.

My visit to Tibet ended with a ride on the roof-of-the-world railway from Lhasa to Chengdu.
Here some pictures from...

...the Tangula Mountain Range...
... endless grassland above 5000m asl...

...and frozen rivers.