Lhasa, Tibet AR, 25/09/08 -
This was still at Drepung. The pink flowers you can see at the back were everywhere, monasteries, roadsides, hillsides. I didn't know what they were, but Bev told me they are Cosmos. I am tempted to sneak some into the front of the apartment to make it all pretty.
We spent the morning at Drepung then went to a carpet factory. It was lunchtime so it was deserted, all the weavers were off eating. The carpets were heartbreakingly beautiful and worth the (several thousand dollars) money that they were asking. Each piece had so much work in it, and they were desperate to sell something. They have had no income because there have been no tourists, so they just kept dropping the price. We didn't know how to explain that we weren't that sort of rich, white tourist that has a spare seven grand, even for the most beautiful silk carpet they've ever seen.
I was feeling more and more sick with a cold in the head and the hard sell we were subjected to wasn't helping.
We went straight from there to the Potala Palace. I had stopped drinking on account of needing a, um, rest room and we didn't stop to get lunch. We weren't allowed to take water into the Potala (security, blah, blah).
This picture is the only one I took of the Potala Palace and pretty much all I remember about it.
Apart from the neverending stairs. All I could concentrate on was taking twenty more steps then stopping to breathe. Twenty more steps then oxygen. Get to the corner and you can stop for air. Just these eight steps and then breathe.
The guide, bless him, had a wealth of knowledge, but kept stopping to tell us about it in these dark little rooms full of people and yak butter candles and incense and no air. I didn't think I was going to die because the only thing I had room for in my brain was getting my lungs to work.
That night we met up with my friend and she took us to her place to meet her family and have some dinner. Her mum has an excellent garden and the house was an amazing example of how (apparently typical of Tibetan architecture) people can live in harmony with their environment. Most Tibetan houses have a south facing 'glass room' that catches the light and is comfortable and warm for most of winter without heating, and most have a room that is built facing north so that it stays cool and pleasant through summer without needing airconditioning.
Her mum doesn't really like going out and prefers to stay home and potter in her garden. Given people were being taken off the street and disappearing for months with no word, it is hardly a surprise. I would stay home, too.