Daily Vlog: 36
Today is my first full day in Tibet and some of our tour groups first day at altitude, which at 3800m was showing on a few of them. We were scheduled to stay in Lhasa for 2 days to acclimatise to the altitude. I was lucky as I have just returned from hiking in Nepal so I have already been at altitude so I could get straight into exploring Lhasa.
We wondered the streets and found our way to the Barkhor Square where one of the most important temples in Tibet is located, The Jokhang. We were instantly confronted by the large Chinese military presence. As we walked around the corner into Barkhor Square the first thing that I saw were two very large and scary looking military vehicles. They kind of looked liked the bullet proof vehicle from Fast and Furious. There was some sort of very big gun mounted to the roof, next to them were a bunch of Chinese military personnel all holding machine guns. To enter into the Barkhor Square we had to go through a X-Ray scanner controlled by Chinese military. I was a little nervous as I put my bag on the conveyor belt. I new that I didn’t have anything that was illegal, but I had no idea how I would be treated here. Turns out I was very surprised as they hardly even looked at our stuff and just waved us through.
As we walked around this spiritual place you could feel the energy of the local people. There was incense burning and flooding the area with a smell of peace, you had old tibetan people prostrating, chanting prayers, tibetan flags draped over the walk. It was beautiful, it was peaceful, then 6 Chinese military come marching through the crowd, in the opposite direction to all the Tibetans, all dressed in full black riot gear, complete with helmets and face masks and holding what looked like AK47’s. Traditionally Tibetans walk clockwise around the temple, however the Chinese military walk in an anticlockwise direction, seemingly in attempt the disrupt the local people. The Tibetans stand strong in the face of this, however you can see the pain in there eyes, they are not free. A small group of us stopped to talk to an old Tibetan lady, which one of our group took a photo of her. As we were showing her the photo we almost immediately had a group of military personnel surrounding us and moving us on. I was rather shocked by how confronting it was to walk around the Jokhang.
That night we found a bar that had some live music so we wandered in and had a great night. The music was great and the atmosphere in the bar was great. The guy was singing a huge mix of songs all acoustic, including what sounded like a Tibetan pop song. We were even treated to local dialect version of an Eminem rap.
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