Jokhang Temple & Barkhor Square

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The New Mandala Restaurant We had lunch at the New Mandala Restaurant

Lunch at the New Mandala in Lhasa

We were then driven over to Barkhor Square. Tiki walked with us to an upstairs restaurant called the New Mandala. She left us there as she wanted to get her hair done. The New Mandala was quite smart and reminded us of the Tashi restaurants, however the service and the meal weren’t anywhere near as good as Tashi’s.

There were several cats cruising around in the restaurant and they either entertained or horrified the diners.  One Japanese girl just about freaked out when the cat hopped up on her table. Her boyfriend had to settle her down.

We saw "The Americans” in the restaurant but they headed on up to the roof garden to eat. To our way of thinking it would have been way too windy and cold to eat up there.

 

Fabric stall in Barkhor Square Incredible choice of materials in Barkhor Square

Checking out Barkhor Square

We waited outside the restaurant for Tiki to return. She wasn’t long. In the meantime Ian had wandered off to look for Tibetan prayer flags which he wanted to buy for one of his work mates.

There are stalls everywhere in this location selling all sorts of things. There are also soldiers everywhere, marching around or standing under small marquees in groups of five. Up one end of the bazaar we could see and smell masses of pungent smoke.

 

 

 

Jokhang Temple but we can’t go in

The smoke was emanating from burners around the edges of the Jokhang Temple. Tiki said it was incense burning but we thought it smelled more like rubbish burning. We hurried to buy face masks off one of the stalls. Mine was useless as I could smell the stink just as much with it on as off.

The incense being burned smelled awful to us Incense burner at the Jokhang Temple

This temple is thought to have been built in the year 642 so it is very ancient. Up close to the temple we saw masses of people prostrating themselves on the ground. They had mats beneath their bodies.

Tiki went up to the entrance and was told the monastery was closed for a short time to allow a large group of pilgrims to go through there. We waited for a long time and then went for a look-see at a very expensive department store. The smoke was even wafting into the shop.

We tried to gain entrance again but were still unsuccessful. We agreed with Tiki that we would walk back to our nearby hotel and then meet her back at the temple entrance at 4 p.m.  Probably the only good thing about the Flora Hotel is its central location which is perfect.

People prostrate themselves at this temple Pilgrims prostrating themselves

 

 

On our walk back we bought ourselves some apples. We had not eaten fruit for several days. The apples cost 1 Yuan (about 15 cents in Australian money) each. We peeled them back at the hotel as we knew not to eat the skins in this part of the world. The apples were very nice too.

Closer to the hotel we, of course, saw quite a few soldiers. Four in one group carried guns as weapons but the fifth member of the group carried a fire extinguisher as his weapon! We saw others manning their guns on the rooftops.

Are they there to intimidate people? It's such a waste of resources.

 

 

Back to Jokhang

The very ancient Jokhang Temple Inside Jokhang Temple

We soon found Tiki near the entrance to the temple and this time we were able to go inside. The Jokhang Temple is the holiest of all Buddhist temples in Tibet.

The Sacred Destinations website says: “Since the Chinese occupation in 1951, Jokhang Temple has taken on a political role as the focus of Tibetan cultural identity and resistance. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), part of the Jokhang was used as a pigsty while another section housed Chinese soldiers, who spent days burning the temple's ancient Tibetan scriptures.”

The temple is a four storey timber complex including an accessible roof area. It covers an area of over 25,000 square metres. It is very decorative and full of chambers and chapels. It is worth climbing the steps to the roof area. I’d like to say our guide gave us information about the place but she didn’t.

 

Barkhor Square Barkhor square viewed from Jokhang Temple

Trying to buy Cadbury Chocolate

We had mentioned to Tiki that we would like to buy some chocolate, so she led us through some narrow little streets behind the Jokhang Temple to search for some.

We found a very interesting spice shop that we thought might have been a herbalist business as we could see a white-coated man inside with a lit candle in his hand. We eventually found a suitable shop and bought three Kit Kats and some small Cadbury bars that we’ve been craving for.

 

Whilst we’ve been in Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet we’ve eaten hardly any sweet foods. I think people in this part of the world don’t have a sweet tooth like us Westerners do. Consequently it is not easy to find chocolate and other sweets. The afternoon was fast disappearing so we parted from Tiki and headed back to the Flora Hotel. The skies were now cloudy and the wind had picked up again. In the distance it even looked like rain was falling.

We scoffed our Kit Kats as soon as we were back in our room. We unwound and later headed out for a light meal.

 

Sun Tribe Restaurant in Lhasa

We had intended going back to the Third Eye Restaurant for dinner but when we got there we found they weren’t open to the public that night. Seems it was some kind of festival but we didn’t understand any more than that.

We had previously seen what looked to be a large restaurant, called Sun Tribe, in the main street so we crossed the road and looked for the entrance. It was an upstairs place but we couldn’t see any stairs. Eventually we realized we had to go up an alleyway to find the entrance. Later we discovered the restaurant could be accessed by a shop on the left side of the entrance. It was huge and very grand inside the restaurant but almost empty. It is without doubt the best presented restaurant we had seen anywhere on our holiday. Sadly the service was terrible. We were handed one menu between the three of us so we asked for another one. The menu was really extensive but so many items we selected simply weren’t available. Plus there were no salads at all.  I requested a beef conjee but it was, seriously, the worst conjee I’ve ever eaten. The others said their food wasn’t too bad. Children ran about the place too. I think they belonged to staff members. We wouldn’t want to go there again.

 

Next page - Norbulingka Palace

 

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