The Potala Palace in Lhasa

Previous page - We arrive in Lhasa


The never ending bad sleeps

It was a dreadful night’s sleep for Ian and me. Ian’s cold was keeping him awake and my bed was extremely uncomfortable. I could feel lumps (springs?) in the middle of the mattress plus my head was lower than my feet. I could only lay on my back because if I rolled onto my side then the lumps stuck in my hips.

Part way through the night I could no longer cope. I took the quilt off my bed, folded it in half lengthwise and placed it under my body, down the length of the bed. I then pulled the sheet and blanket up over myself. That was a slight improvement but I wouldn’t have wanted to be any colder. Jeremy said he slept fine until the mosque began calling its followers at day break. Ian and I also heard someone vomiting in the street. There were also cats fighting and then birds frolicking on the window ledge as it got lighter. One thing is for sure – I want my mattress replaced before tonight!


We complain at reception

We slowly dragged on our clothes, washed up and headed down to the lobby. We handed in our laundry and I presented my written request for a replacement mattress. The young Chinese fellow manning reception promised me the mattress would be replaced. He also said they will attend to the sink plug issue – we can’t get the plug out of the plug hole!


Breakfast at the Flora Hotel

We head off to breakfast in a separate building around the back of the hotel. The menu offered a choice of several styles of eggs, two slices of toast or Tibetan bread, butter and jam plus tea or coffee.  We asked what Marsala Omelettes were and the waitress said they had tomatoes in them. We opted for that. When they arrived they had a few other ingredients in them too and they were quite tasty. Our toast was the closest to Australian toast that we had eaten since leaving home. Bread/toast elsewhere has always been quite sweet.


Off to the Potala Palace

At 9:30 a.m. we met up with Tiki in the lobby. Punti had the four-wheel-drive parked near the hotel. It only took a few minutes to reach the Potala. We were surprised to see thousands of people there all wandering around the exterior of the grounds in a clockwise direction. If we understood our guide correctly it seems Wednesdays are special days and attract huge numbers of people. These people were not intending to enter the Potala grounds – they were just walking around the outside.

The winter residence of the Dalai Llama was the Potala Palace The Potala Palace in Lhasa
There were quite a few steps to climb Some of the many steps that needed to be climbed









Tiki had collected our tickets yesterday whilst in town so we didn’t have to wait long to gain entry. There was a security area to pass through just like they have in airports. Bottled water was not allowed to be taken in (just like an airport) but we were told we could buy it once up inside the Palace. Jeremy’s day pack caused concern and it was because he had forgotten there was a full can of Sprite in the bottom of it. It was confiscated and he was told he could collect it on his way out.

Tiki and Ian at the Potala Tiki and Ian
View over the city from the front of the Potala Palace View over Lhasa from the Potala









Inside the grounds of the Potala Palace

The base of the area is flat ground with some flower beds and shrubbery. It all looked quite parched but then water is probably scarce at this time of year. We could hear other guides telling their group all the important facts about the palace but Tiki really didn’t tell us anything. Later we discovered ours was only her third tour group. Her English was minimal and often on our tour she would have to ask the driver for answers to our basic questions. Sometimes we never got an answer at all – just a bit of silly giggling. It was frustrating.  She is a lovely girl but she is definitely not ready for leading tour groups.


Part of the Potala Palace Building inside the Potala grounds

One of us doesn’t make it up to the Palace

We set off up the first flights of steps and slopes. It soon became clear that I wasn’t going to make it to the top. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and this holiday has really knocked the stuffing out of me. I was finding it a struggle to keep up because my legs were exhausted. I also found my shoes were slipping on the sloping paving slabs. My silly joggers weren’t cheap and the wretched things had twice caused me to slip in Bhutan when we did the Tiger’s Nest climb and because of that I had a fear of slipping up again.

I decided to pull out and let the others move onwards at a sensible rate rather than them having to be delayed by my pathetic climbing efforts. We agreed to meet up at a nearby bench where I would wait until they returned. I knew I would be in for a two hour wait. I thought I would read to kill time.


Next page - Painting the Potala walls




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