Yak Yak Yak Yak Yak!
In Tibet, you're going to see yaks everywhere. Yak butter, yak cheese, yak horn ornaments ("hornaments?"), yak sacks (wool bags) and even yak T-shirts all remind you of that animal which you actually got excited about when seeing it for the first time from the train window.
In Lhasa restaurants, the word beef (niu rou) means "yak meat" whether you're in a Tibetan, Sichuan, or Shanghai style restaurant. It's nearly impossible to get ordinary cow meat, what people outside of Tibet normally consider as "beef" in Lhasa.
If you get tired of yak meat, there are plenty of non-Tibetan restaurants in Lhasa but unfortunately the overwhelming majority of these are Sichuan style. So if you don't like spicy food then there are only a few choices left. I ended up going to the same "Hangzhou Xiao Long Bao" cafe every night over on Beijing Zhong Lu because I could not find any other decent alternatives for dinner. One of my fondest memories of Lhasa was enjoying the traditional "yak dance", a performance by two Tibetan boys inside of a yak costume which is often done when greeting guests. (see additional photo)
The 'Dragon King Pool' is...
The 'Dragon King Pool' is found in the centre of a large park behind the Potala Palace. It dates back to the rebuilding of the Potala by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1645. It is said to be man-made naturally produced from the huge amounts of earth removed for the construction of the Potala. The name 'Dragon King Pool' however stems from a popular legend in Tibetan mythology. Mamy, many years ago the area of Lhasa contained a large and turbullent lake. Prince Guoja ruled the area but was constantly hampered by an evil dragon who lived in the lake. This dragon caused many floods and brought misery to the people. The only way of placation the dragon was to offer a human sacrifice. Thus every year a young boy from the populace was chosen, and on the 1st day of the 1st month, according to the Tibetan Calender, he was tossed into the lake and never seen again. One year, while searching for a suitable sacrifice, the Prince's men discovered a small monk called Dwenjue, who lived on a montainside with his poor family. On the appropriate day, Dwenjue was thrown into the lake. Unlike his predecessors however, this boy had special magical powers, and after a bitter struggle lasting 7 days and nights, the dragon was slein. From that day on, the area became prosperous, and the people were happy. In more recent years, a 4 storey pavilion was built on an island in the lake. It contains a shrine dedicated to the Dragon King. The surrounding parks has become extremely popular vit local people. There are many trees and flowers and scenic picnic spots. Recently a children's playground and garden restarant have been added. In the summer, people go boating on the lake and in the winter it is perfect for ice-skating.
Eating with chopsticks
Just like in many other Asian countries in Tibet it is also usual to eat your food with chopsticks.
In the beginning it is difficult to eat your food with these sticks but the longer you practise the better it's going.
Be well prepared
Walking shoes. Layered clothing (can be cold even in the Summer). Everything you need. Only Chinese medication are available in the pharmacy.
Altitude sickness pills & capsules are available in the hotel for around RMB20-40 (around US$5 or less). Zoom & wide-angle lens.
Lots of films.
Digital camera if possible. It's easier to take photos from the bus with this. Coffee!!!
At Ganden, spend some time on...
At Ganden, spend some time on the montain in front of the monastery, you will appreciate the monastery on the whole and its incredible situation.
Spend also some time with the saleswomen, at the entrance of the monastery. They are playing and singing, waiting the next tourists bus!