Episode 072: Lhasa

Did I Just Climb The Stairs Or Run A Marathon? We arrived in Lhasa and I have to say the city surprised me. It didn’t immediately look like we were in Tibet…more like somewhere in Europe or even Denver for that matter.

There’s just so much new construction. Granted most of the writing is in Chinese characters on billboards and storefronts, but still, it just didn’t look as old as I thought it would.

That is, of course, until we rounded a corner and there up on a hilltop stood the famous Potala Palace in full view.

Wow. That’s more in line with what I was expecting to see.

Over the past few decades China has been pouring money into Lhasa building infrastructure on par with almost any major city on Earth. Even though this is an extremely remote place, it’s very metropolitan. There are major shops everywhere selling the latest fashions and electronics. There’s lots of glass and chrome, streetlights, late-model automobiles and cell phones. Squint your eyes for a minute and it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a desert in the Himalayas at 12,000 feet!

That is, until you reach the part of the city known as “Old Lhasa”. Here, everything changes and the customs and practices of the Tibetan Buddhists remain in the forefront. Our hotel ended up being right across the street from the Jokang Temple; one of the oldest and most important temples in Tibet. All around the temple’s perimeter were religious pilgrims praying, spinning prayer wheels and prostrating themselves before it’s walls.

There were people everywhere but again, squint your eyes a bit and it’s difficult to remember that you’re in a desert at 12,000 feet.

That is, until you climb the 3 flights of stairs to the hotel room. Do that, and it’s not easy to forget you’re at 12,000 feet.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 26:12