Back from sunny Tibet – January 2017

Yes, again I returned from a trip to Tibet in the month of January. It was my 6th trip to Tibet in wintertime. And although I always have good weather during my trips in January, this time it was every day totally blue skies and sun! And the sun is really powerful in Tibet in January. That is because of the altitude in Tibet, which is above 3,600 metres. So I had many lunches outside enjoying the sun. But at night it got cold and temperatures varied from minus 10 till minus 16 degrees Celsius. But I must say, the hotels in Tibet improve. I always had a very cold room at the Samye Monastery Hotel. But this year my room in this hotel had floor heating!

Days in Lhasa

After my arrival in Tibet, I stayed the first a few days in Lhasa. Getting acclimatized to the altitude. In Lhasa I saw again the great and cultural important sites in Tibet. Like of course the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple in the old centre of Lhasa and the big monasteries Drepung and Sera. January is a great month to visit Tibet because there are almost no tourists in Tibet and the farmers and the nomads come to visit as pilgrims the important monasteries. The old centre of Lhasa at that time is such a very, very busy place with all these pilgrims. There were also many pilgrims from Amdo. And I enjoy walking the Barkhor with the many, many pilgrims. By the way, the Barkhor is the devotional circumambulation of the Jokhang Temple. This walk is about one kilometre long. I only saw a very few tourist groups in Lhasa. But outside Lhasa it was only me and the Tibetans.

Round trip in Tibet

After a few days Lhasa I started my round trip in Tibet. It was my 11th visit to Tibet but I visited some monasteries, that were new to me. These were minor monasteries that are not on the regular itineraries for visiting Tibet. But I enjoyed these monasteries very much. Especially Puntsholling Monastery was spectacular located with the Yarlung Tsangpo river in front of it and a huge sand dune behind it. Such a beautiful location!

In a lot of monasteries I was very lucky. Visitors of my website will know, that I do not only love travelling but that I also love making photos. In the big monasteries near Lhasa (Drepung and Sera) it isn’t allowed to make pictures inside the halls and chapels any more. Not even against paying for taking photos. It isn’t even allowed any more to take photo’s with a camera of the daily debate of the monks at Sera Monastery. Nowadays you can only make pictures of the debating monks with your mobile phone. Crazy! But I managed to make some pictures with my camera there. In the minor monasteries, it is mostly no problem at all to make photos. And I was so lucky that in many monasteries the monks had just assembled and where chanting. So wonderful to watch that and simply be there.

Ceremony in Sakya Monastery

The most lucky I was at the monastery of Sakya. There was a ceremony going on. The monks were dancing with the big protector statues. Sakya monastery celebrated the Lama dance, also known as Vajra dance. Dancing the Vajra dance aims to exorcise evil spirits and bring peace to sentient beings so that they live happily with auspiciousness in the new year. It was great to be in Sakya at that moment. And it was just me as only tourist among the pilgrims.

The photo galleries on this travel will follow. But it will take time for me to have them ready. I’m still working on my photo galleries of my travel in Amdo in autumn 2016. But stay tuned on this website for both of the photo galleries!

My Itinerary for this trip

Day 1 Fly from Chengdu to Lhasa
Day 2 Lhasa, visiting the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple
Day 3 Lhasa, visiting Drepung and Sera Monasteries
Day 4 Lhasa to Tsedang. Visiting a small monastery near Gongkar Airport, Zhatang Monastery and the Thandruk Temple
Day 5 Tsedang: day trip to Khangmar Monastery and Thansatil Monastery
Day 6 Tsedang to Samye: visit Chim Puk Hermitage and Samye Monastery.
Day 7 Samye to Gyantse: on the way visit Yamdrok Lake, Karo la glacier
Day 8 Gyantse to Shigatse: visit Pelkor Chöde Monastery at Gyantse and on the way visit to Shalu monastery
Day 9 Shigatse: visit Tashilhunpo monastery
Day 10 Shigatse to Sakya: on the way visit Phuntsoling Monastery
Day 11 Sakya to Shigatse: visit Sakya Monastery and on the way visit Nartang Monastery
Day 12 Shigatse to Lhasa
Day 13 Lhasa to Drigung Til: visit Drigung Til Monastery
Day 14 Drigung Til to Lhasa: on the way visit to Ganden Monastery
Day 15 Lhasa: day trip toTsurphu Monastery
Day 16 Fly from Lhasa to Chengdu