Archive for the “Lhasa” Category


http://kekexili.typepad.com/life_on_the_tibetan_plate/2008/02/tibetan-women.html is a pretty interesting website and this specific link talks about Tibetan women and their lives and clothing.

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Each morning and evening hundreds of people walk several circuits around the Barkhor market area that surrounds the Jokhang Temple and the nunnery. They carry prayer wheel which is what this lady has in her hands. She has probably done her circuits and is no resting. She is wearing traditional Tibetan dress that you see on many Tibetan women regardless of age. The apron is worn to indicate she is married. Only married women wear them. If a woman becomes a widow or divorced, she no longer wears an apron. Lobsang said that men wear no rings or article of clothing to indicate their marital status. Hmmmm

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This woman is carrying a thermos of either hot oil or water, both used as offerings and also a handful of Tibetan money of small denominations to leave as donations. She is walking past the prayer wheels at the nunnery.

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David, video camera in hand, waits patiently while this Tibetan granny climbs the stairs to pray.  So many layers of clothing which are probably needed in the winter.

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A young woman in cut-offs and tights helps an older woman in traditional dress. You never saw a Tibetan woman’s legs though the Chinese women often wore typical western dress. I wore a skirt that fell about 3 inches below my knee and socks over my ankles and heavy shoes but I noticed people noticing that my skirt didn’t reach to my ankles. Or maybe they were noticing my clunky shoes? O wore a skirt because it needs less washing than pants, is better for squat toilets, and is cooler than long pants.

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I love her face and bright blue head wrap.

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Lots of hats and aprons. Lobsang said that in the cities women tend not to marry until their mid-20s though nomadic women marry much earlier. I read on one website that Chinese women in Tibet are allowed one child but Tibetan women are allowed two. Nomadic women probably fall under less regulation.

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Many women wore long braids with colored ribbon wound through them. The nuns wore big blue aprons while performing chores.

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This woman also has ribbon in her braids. Almost all carried some sort of cloth bag worn as we would a backpack.

Everywhere we went I focused on the women more than on the religious aspects of the places we were visiting. So throughout our tour you’ll see lots of photos of Tibetan women.  The costume did change as we traveled across Tibet especially as we encountered much colder weather.

Ru

DoraMac

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Hi All,

  I decided to jump ahead and write about our visit to the Ani tsang kung nunnery in the center of the old part of Lhasa.  It was my favorite of the religious sites we visited.  It was the smallest and the least opulent, but I was just charmed by the entire experience.  I have so many photos from our short visit that I have to send it in 2 parts.  The first email are photos of the nuns.  The second part are photos of the Tibetan women who came to pray and interact with the nuns. 

Ru

DoraMac

Tibet # 7 Ani tsang kung nunnery and Women of Lhasa  Part 1

I was totally intrigued by the clothing of the Tibetan women and the beauty and character of their faces. And I was totally charmed by the Ani tsang kung nunnery. It was bright and lively and the nuns radiated intelligence, humor, friendliness and happiness. I had to be almost dragged away. Somehow, I thought there would be time to revisit but we didn’t. I’m quite sorry about that. We walked from our hotel to the nunnery located in the center of Old Lhasa. We turned into a small alleyway which opened into the courtyard of the nunnery.

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The entry ticket spells the name of the nunnery Tsamkhung.

“Tsamkhung, located in the southeast of Jokhang temple is the only nunnery established in the old city of Lhasa. During the 7th century, Tibetan King Songtsan Gampa had been meditate in a natural cave at this site reciting prayers to pacify the dangers from the flood of Lhasa River. Thus the nunnery was named Tsamkhung which means the meditation cave. During the 12th century, Doctor Gewahum took meditation at this site. In the 15th century, Kujor Tokden, a Tsongkhapa’s close disciple started to establish the nunnery here. During the beginning of the 20th century, the venerable Lama Pabongka and Tampa Dhoedrak the ninetieth throne holder of Ganden Monastery enlarged the nunnery to the present site. It is one of the nunneries in Tibet that has gained certain prestige within and outside Tibet Autonomous Region.” Info from the entry ticket.

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It was incredibly colorful in the clear morning light. There were several building in the compound which included housing for the nuns, a small tea restaurant, a small shop (where I wish I’d bought at least something) this kitchen and the main building housing the prayer rooms and initial “meditation cave.”

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This room looked to be a small kitchen area.

I like the golden ladles hung over the picture of a table of food. At the nunnery we were allowed to take photos almost everywhere and there was no charge. At the Summer and Winter Palaces and monasteries either photos were forbidden or you had to pay to take them. From what I’ve read, Tibetan nuns aren’t treated as equals with the Tibetan monks and are often prohibited from higher levels of learning. Many of the nuns are now trying to change that and finding ways to higher levels of study.

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A nun tends the profusion of flowers that enlivened the nunnery.

Inside the nunnery was dark and small and had many of the same Buddhist images we saw in the monasteries.

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Here a woman looks to be adding a “butter offering” to one of the butter lamps in the prayer room.

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Chanting nuns

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This photo is a bit fuzzy but I like it because it captures the nuns’ curiosity and friendliness in their faces. Though allowed to take photos, we were advised against using a flash and the area where the nuns were sitting was actually quite dark with most of the light coming from the doorway. At the monasteries the monks just really seemed to ignore us so the warmth of the nuns was a lovely change.  Also, we didn’t have to pay to take photos as we do in the monasteries.

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Suddenly the chanting stopped and clashing symbols and horns and discordant music filled the small room.

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A nun collects the small offerings left near the original “meditation cave.”

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A nun’s story.

The room has so little. The covering over the door is to help keep out winter drafts.

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A nun sweeps herself off.

The nuns often live in the simplest conditions. Hopefully this outside water tub isn’t the only source for washing.

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Burning herbs in the large white stone oven at the nunnery.

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I want to know these women!

I feel almost totally ignorant about the lives of Tibetan nuns though I have been doing some reading since we returned to the boat.  It certainly makes me want to learn more and I will when I visit my local library in the fall.  I’m especially glad to be learning about Ani, the nun in Last Seen In Lhasa. 

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Mandala Hotel

Hi All,

  7:30 am tomorrow, June 27, we leave on a 4 day overland journey to Kathmandu, Nepal.  (I now know that there is an h in Kathmandu and Buddhism.)  We should cross the border into Nepal on the 30th and be in our Kathmandu hotel on the night of the 30th. We fly back to Singapore on July 4th.  Not sure about our Internet access along the way though Lobsang says tomorrow night’s hotel is nicer than the Mandala Hotel so maybe we’ll have wifi.  Tonight we have to pack up, and yes, we did buy a few things, so packing is even trickier than when we left the boat.  That’s why boat travel is so nice; no packing and unpacking. 

  This morning we visited a Buddhist nunnery and this afternoon a monastery that is also a university for students studying to be monks.  We watched them during an afternoon session when young students are questioned by older students and it’s all very theatrical.  I took lots of photos and will share them too as well as many others.

  So that’s it.  Off to finish packing.

Ru

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Mandala Hotel

Hi All,

  Today we began our official tour of Lhasa with two more tour members, David and Ronnie; one French and one Swedish.  Both are tall young men who have been traveling around Asia for several months though Ronnie took some time off to visit Alaska recently.  Both are completely fluent in English.  We will tour with them to the Nepal border.  Until now we have been doing an independent tour with the same company and same tour guide.  We’re glad that we had the extra time for our bike ride and drive to the Ganden Monastery.

  Our morning tour was the Potala Palace, the Winter Palace of the Dali Lama and the burial place of the Dali Lama starting with the 5th Dali Lama.  We have also visited the Summer Palace.  After that we visited the Jokang Temple which is the most crowded place I have ever been.  More about those places in following emails.

  Here are some photos of the beautiful Tibet scenery.

Ru

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Our tour guide Lobsang posed for a photo on our bike trip along the Lhasa River.

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Randal and I posing in front of the new Newu Bridge linking the train station to Lhasa City.

We continued riding along the river and across the bridge (no photos allowed on the bridge) and then along the other side of the river until I got tired. Notice what we have on our heads; no helmets! It is the first and hopefully last time we bike without them but the bike rental shops don’t provide them. My seat was too low and none of the up hill or down hill gears worked. So after about an hour when I got tired and we were about to begin what looked like a climb, I said I needed to stop. Randal said he needed to stop too but he wouldn’t have said so! Lobsang could have ridden for the rest of the day. But we turned around and rode back to town. I guess we rode about 10 miles or so because we rode about an hour and a half but stopped for photos and a phone call from our friends Stella and Bill.

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Stopping for a rest, water and to let a giant truck go by.

There was no shoulder on the road and though there wasn’t so much traffic, there were big trucks and people often seem to drive crazy. Anything coming up in back would blast its horn.

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Looking across to the Potala Palace, the Winter Palace of the Dali Lama.

We did a tour of the Potala Palace the day I am writing this. Nothing is allowed to obstruct the view from the Palace so there are no tall buildings in the city of Lhasa anywhere near the Palace; and none that we’ve seen so far anywhere. Even the Newu Bridge had to meet the height regulations. More about the Palace in another email.

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The road up to the Ganden Monastery. It was a beautiful drive and the Monastery was quite interesting to visit. More about that in another email too.

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Driving back from the Monastery along the Lhasa River.

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The sky was so incredibly blue.

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The view of Lhasa from the Potala Palace.

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Mandala Hotel

Hi All,

  This morning our guide Lobsang picked us up at 8 am with a van and driver for a tour along the Lhasa River and up into the mountains to the Ganden Monastery.It was an absolutely beautiful drive and the monastery was quite picturesque and interesting with a long and sad history in modern times.  I took loads of photos and eventually you’ll get to see them.  This afternoon Randal and I shared a Yak burger and cucumber salad for lunch on the roof top dining area of the Mandal Restaurant with lovely views of the surrounding mountains and the Chinese soldiers on the roof top across the way.  The Yak burger was quite good and the bun that it was served on was wonderful bread.  They do great bread here in Lhasa.

Tomorrow we’re going off to the Potala Palace which I don’t know enough about to write about now.

So far I’m most intrigued with the older Tibetan women and the beautiful mountain scenery.

By the way, Lhasa City is at an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level.

Ru

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Our first few days in Lhasa, Randal and I would tour with our guide Lobsang in the morning, rest in the afternoon, and then go out walking about 6pm. It felt more like the middle of the afternoon because of the warmth and bright sunlight. It stays light until almost 9pm. We would leave the hotel, cross the road and turn left at the first big intersection. After a short walk we would come to a pedestrian area that led into the small, old neighborhoods.

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In the evening, Chinese soldiers guard the entrance to this pedestrian area. Randal and I walked through it our first night’s stroll but in these photos we kept to the main road and then cut back into the heart of the old city. I took a photo of the Yak dung stoves beyond the last pillar but some soldiers were sitting there so I was waved away. When I pointed to the stove, I was allowed to take the photo. Obviously I took this photo with the soldiers. You just can’t directly point a camera at them. When we get lost they are helpful at giving us directions.

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Chinese jump rope.

I’m guessing that the red scarves indicate these children go to a Chinese school. The school day ends about 6:30 pm There is a long mid-afternoon break which ends about 3:30 pm when the students return for the afternoon session,

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An apartment complex. Black in painted around the window to retain heat. Many locals actually use the bicycle rickshaws.

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Leave the main road and enter the warren of lanes lined with small shops and courtyard neighborhoods.

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In the center of the old section of Lhasa is the Jokhang Temple. Every morning and evening people walk a circuit clockwise around the streets surrounding the temple. It is a market area and there are lots of shops selling souvenirs lining the streets. Randal and I get all turned around in these interweaving streets and always have to ask directions. These women are Buddhist nuns. We will visit a nunnery on one of our tours.

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A prayer tower with cloth prayer sheets wrapped around it.

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I sneak photos of the women whose, faces, hair and clothes are all so full of character and colorful.

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Yuppie Tibet

This café with several floors with ladder-like stairs had the best yogurt cake. It was just like cheese cake but made with yogurt and tangy rather than sweet.

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Mandala Hotel

Hi All,

  Randal is sound asleep.  We actually did a bike tour along the river today.  Our guide Lobsang met us in the hotel lobby at 9 am and we walked about 15 minutes to a bike rental shop.  There we quickly picked a bike, had the seats adjusted and took off through the semi-predictable Lhasa traffic.  My bike gears didn’t work and the seat was really too low, but I really enjoyed the ride; at least for the first hour and 20 minutes.  Then I got tired and when we turned as if to climb a hill and keep going into the countryside, I told Randal I was about ready to stop.  So was he; but he wouldn’t have said anything.  Our guide Lopsang turned us around and we rode back to town, returned the bikes and Randal and I went to lunch while Lobsang went off to do his own thing.  We had almost 2 hours for lunch so decided to eat and then return to the hotel to rest before our afternoon outing to the Tibet Museum.  That’s where we’re

going in about 20 minutes.

  Anyone with hotmail didn’t receive the email about our train trip.  Apparently the file sent as an attachment was too large so they were undeliverable.  Sorry, but that’s my only option with this little netbook computer.  www.mydoramac.com will post the email and the photos. 

  Off to the museum.

Ru

DoraMac

ps neither Randal and I have been sleeping well for lots of reasons, altitude and very dry air.  We were both amazed how much we enjoyed the bike ride this morning!

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Mandala Hotel

Hi All,

  Randal and I survived the bike trip, but really pooped out during our tour of the Tibet Museum.  And now we both seem to have stomach issues….A couple of wrecks!  Tomorrow we’re going by car for a 2 hour drive along the river to a monastery.  That should be quite interesting.

  I’m about to go off to the market down the street to see what I can find for dinner.  Both of us need a rest from the spicy noodle shop and spicy anything.  Maybe I can find some yogurt.  There’s lots of it here and I had some for lunch with my special healthy chicken soup and brown bread.  They have the best bread here in Tibet.  Of course lots of years ago I did eat enough Tibetan barley bread to gain thousands of pounds.

  So hope you enjoy the train photos and see the changing scenery.  Next some photos of Lhasa.

Ru

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Just some photos of our Chinese friends and then scenery from the train.

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Before we left for Tibet we spent some time with our friends Bill and Stella who incidentally built our wonderful boat, DoraMac! Goose and lamb and greens were cooked in the center pan on the wok. It was our last really good meal until we ate dinner in the noodle place just across the street from our hotel in Tibet.

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Three very lovely young friends, Zoey, Singkey, and BoBo.

We took them to dinner one evening and listened to Zoey’s and BoBo’s tales of work life and job hunting. Both graduated this past June. Singkey is in her first year at University. We have known all three since 2006 when they were all school girls!

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The small symbols say Doumen and the time is 6:19 am. We were at the Doumen bus station at 5:30am waiting for the bus to Guangzhou. You can see we are definitely at sea level as we cross one of the many rivers that make up the Pearl River Delta.

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Traffic into Guangzhou.

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The waiting station in Guangzhou.

One of the station attendants came to tell us when our train had arrived and we were able to follow some other folks looking for the Tibet train since it was a bit confusing. Randal is looking at a map of the train route. We made several stops and I don’t know if anyone got off but lots more people got on.

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Low land scenery.

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Changing scenery.

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Towns seemed to pop up in the middle of nowhere.

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The higher we went, the prettier the scenery.

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Lower mountains.

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During the night the scenery really started to change. I went to the “toilet” late at night and when I looked out it reminded me of flying over the North Pole. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera.

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Lake and sky.

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Glaciers and snow capped mountains.

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Finally, the train station in Lhasa.

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Ruth and Randal




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