Some of my favorite pictures

I just wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from the trip. This Buddha on the side of the mountain is 1,100 years old. People make offerings to have it repainted constantly.

1100 year old buddha group shot

Yak butter being sold.


There has to be at least one picture of a child with split pants.


Tibetan furniture store.


More Buddhas painted on the mountain.

joan buddha on wall

Save a yak  tree. People glue money and prayer shawls to the tree for all the yaks that have been eaten.


Ladders are painted along the mountain to climb to get to heaven.


Prayer flags, white-clouds, blue-sky, red-fire, green-water, yellow-earth


More prayer flags




Flower at Potala Palace  (Debbie took this picture)


Lhasa door. All the windows and doors are covered with a small curtain.


Good Food/Bad Food

We enjoyed most of the food in Tibet. Had a few different yak dishes and really enjoyed the soup below.

It was wonderful  sitting out in the court yard with good friends, great food and beautiful weather.


Yak in homemade noodle soup.  Delicious- my favourite dish in Tibet.


Mark enjoyed this dish. Most dishes were served in these beautifully painted trays.


Mashed potatoes in pumpkin sauce: quite good  :)


We went to this restaurant as it was highly recommended by our hotel and friends of Debbie who had been there and we were highly disappointed.  Suppose to be a great view from the roof but there was a private party up there.  It only took one bite of the chicken wings to realize they were not cooked to my satisfaction  as they were soft and it felt like they still had some feathers attached. Yuck I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered a chocolate milk shake as it was yak milk or something else so after a couple sips I was done with that. Luckily the potatoes with pumpkin sauce was good. Ron ordered spaghetti which was also bad.   So needless to say we left the restaurant hungry so we stopped for a dish of ice cream at our Sheraton Hotel.  We each had a bowl with a couple  small scoops of Haagen Dazs  Ice Cream and were totally shocked when the bill came to $100.00 U.S. dollars. First time I had a $25.00 bowl of ice cream. Wish I could have taken a picture of it.

yucky chicken wings


Back to home sweet home in Utah, only after a few problems!!!!

This is my fourth year retuning from China and I thought maybe this trip would be problem free, boy was I wrong. The first year Mark and I were delayed because of major rain storms so we missed our connection in San Fran so we  arrived the same day just hours late. Year two I had my detour to Japan with my kidney stone, and who can forget year three when China would not let me return for the Olympics  so I flew home alone from London England.

Remember we had problems flying to China because of weather and spent the night in a hotel and missed the wedding we went for, so I figured were we due to have a problem free trip home.  Mark and I woke up early to get to the airport 3 hours early to find out the plane was going to be delayed for 3 hours because of mechanical problems. So we spent 6 hours sitting around (when I could have been sleeping) and figured we would miss our connection in San Fran. The plane left and we arrived in San Fran with one hour to make our connection which is always tight beacuse of customs and immigration. All summer I did not have any problems with my visa, passport so I was for the first time not nervous going thru immigration. The officer asked the usual questions and talked about me living in China handed us the paper and said go to door two. We weren’t thinking and headed to door one (the usual) and were told to go down the hall to the immigration office. Needless to say the panic set in with me wondering NOW WHAT. The room had a few other foreigners in it with Mark and I being the only “white people”. The officer there was friendly and surprised to see us and basically said have a seat.  Whenever I am in a situation like that I feel so sad for the other people as no one is telling you anything and you just sit and wait and I can speak the language. Anyway after a long 20 minutes with Mark and I racking our brain as to what the problem could be the officer returned. Turns out being a green card holder I am only allowed to be out of the country so many days a year so when they heard I moved to China all the red flags were sent out. So it was basically a warning to say if I was out of the country for  a year they could revoke my green card. The officer was very nice and basically said that I should become an American. I really am starting to think I should.  As Mark said if I want to change things I need to be able to vote (the whole immigration thing- it can be very difficult for immigrants)

Anyway with that delay we missed our flight and were told we would be put on the next flight in 3 hours. So we decided to eat some real American food (Burger King) and just wait it out. After a couple hours the announcement over the load speaker said the flight was canceled because of mechanical problems. I have never seen Mark jump up  so fast to get to the ticket  counter. Everyone was running. The next 2 flights to SLC were full so it was decided we would fly to Palm Springs, then to LA and then to Salt Lake so we would arrive at midnight the same day. We just sent our luggage on to SLC. We get on a small plane for Palm Springs and after the 40 minute flight we are ready to board the flight to LA when we are told the flight was canceled because of mechanical problems. So now we are stranded there for the night as the airport was pretty well closed down. They put us in a van along with one other man and sent us to a Holiday Inn for the night. Brought back memories of my stay at the Holiday Inn in Japan although this was much nicer.  Through out this whole experience I constantly told Mark that I was glad that he was with me.  We had to be back at the airport at 5 to catch the plane to LA and then to SLC.  Neither of us slept that well since we had to get up at 4, but we were glad for a bed and some food vouchers.

Pants I purchased to sleep in since I wasn’t expecting to spend the night in a hotel.  The Indians are the local sports team.

tibet souveniers 019

So today both flights were on time and our luggage was there when Trish picked us up so all was well except feeling totally exhausted from another exciting trip home. I asked Mark (who remained very pleasant and calm the whole time, I only lost it once)  now what have we learned from this experience. He said “patience in travelling”  but I thought maybe don’t come home with Joan.  :)

I still have a few more pictures from Tibet that I will publish soon.

Thangkas and Mandalas (Arts and crafts)

Thangkas are religious paintings mounted on brocade that carry painted or embroidered images inside a colored border. Seen in temples, monasteries, and homes, they depict subjects as diverse as the lives of Buddhas, Tibetan theology and astrology. painting thangkas

We were able to tour a studio where the thangkas were being painted.


They made all their colors from minerals from the rocks. The video I took was too long for my blog.


There were lots of women stirring pots of paint.



This is the thangka we purchased to hang in our Changzhi apartment.


Mandalas are made of sand. Monks spend days creating mandalas of colored sand that are swept away on completion to signify the transient nature of life.


It was amazing to see the great detail.


Picnic in Tibet

On our last day in Tibet after leaving the lake we stopped in an open field and had a picnic with a very pleasant box lunch. It just seemed to be a random field but we had lots of visitors so we were able to share our leftovers from a big lunch.

3 ladies picnicThis woman was chasing a cow with the rope she is holding.

Farmer Family2The little boy was happy to receive some food and Debbie gave him some stickers.

Farming this largely barren land is difficult and the only crop that grows easily is barley. One of the items in our lunch was tsampa which was a roasted barley roll.


Maybe a healthier lunch than what we had on our TK picnics. But wait where are the chips?


Prayer Wheels

A common sight in Tibet was to see the pious and cheerful pilgrims, swinging prayer wheels and performing energetic prostrations as they make “kora” -holy circuits around a temple, or special places in the city.

Spinning a prayer wheel clockwise sends a prayer written on coiled paper to heaven. The largest wheels contain thousands of prayers and are turned by crank or water power.

prayer wheels

Worship in Tibet is filled with ritual objects and customs, many of which help with the accrual of merit (for their next life). “Koras”, which are always followed clockwise, can be short circuits of holy sites or fully-fledged pilgrimages (people who travel from their home).

prayer wheel, insence burner

Notice all the women with their aprons on  spinning the prayer wheels. Remember that means they are married.

This old munk  had just finished spinning the wheels.

old munk and prayer wheels

Sera Monestary

The Sera Monastery was famous for its warrior monks, the Dob-Doa. Once home to 5,000 monks, today there are less than one-tenth that number, although the energetic renovation suggests that this may improve.

In 1950, the Chinese took advantage of a tenuous claim to the territory  and invaded , calling it “liberation”. In the uprising that followed in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama age 16  fled to India where he still heads the Tibetan Government- in- Exile. By 1970 more than a million Tibetans had died either directly at the hands of the Chinese  or through famine caused by incompetent agricultural policies. Tibet’s cultural heritage was razed, and over 6,000 monasteries destroyed.

Conditions have improved today, and there are signs of religious revival. Many monasteries that were ravaged during the Cultural Revolution are now being repaired and returned to their former roles, but creating or owning an image of the  Dalai Lama is still illegal.

The monks debate every day for one hour in the afternoon. It was fascinating to watch, but would have been even better  if we could have understood what they were saying. It is a competition so at the end of each year one monk is chosen from each monastery to compete with the other monks.

monks debating




The monks ritualized gestures-clapping hands and stamping when a point is made- made it fascinating to watch.

This video was taken in front of the Jokhang Temple. You can see the monks and the big incense burner.

It was near this square that the rioting started last year with the monks. They were protesting the arrest of monks the year before.  It got out of control with looting and fires being started in the Chinese shops. So today the Chinese military presence is everywhere with soldiers with guns and shields on every corner. We were told not to take any pictures of the military.  If you look closely you will see green picnic umbrellas on the right roof tops where a soldier is stationed.

Bahkor square

Barkhor Square where rioting took place.

open square

It was only when I got home and looked at this picture that I saw another umbrella on the right roof so the military  must be all around the square.

StreetViewFromPokhang -see guards under green tent

Jokhang Temple

To visit the Jokhang Temple for the Buddhists is for the Catholics to visit the Vatican in Rome, and the LDS to visit Temple Square in Utah, the center of their religion. Jokhang Temple which means “the temple of the Buddha” was built in the mid 7th century A.D.  It houses a Buddha from 500 B.C. that was absolutely beautiful. People donate money to have it continually coated with gold paint so on some days it is painted 10 times and on other days maybe once.  It is covered with jewels and surrounded by flickering butter lamps and wreaths of heady incense. The local people are allowed to visit for free while the tourists pay to enter. There was a long line of people who just wait patiently to circle around the temple clockwise with many monks at hand for crowd control. It was fun to see all the little children standing in line.


The open courtyard is the  focus for ceremonies during festivals. The long altar holding hundreds of butter lamps marks the entrance to the interior.


All the walls and doors and ceilings were painted with bright colors.

joan mark and door

joan, deb colorful walls

The temple has 4 main chapels at its four sides with more than 20 chapels centralized and are filled with big and small gold, silver and bronze statues. The murals on the walls of corridors and halls mainly depict the life stories of historic characters.

The Jokhang is Tibet’s most venerated site. Pilgrims travel from all over the country and bow and pray on the flagstones just outside the temple doors.

This man prostrated all down the street so it was interesting to watch. At night they just sleep along the road and live off of donations as they many  travel doing this for months.

standing prostrating man

prostrating man

In front of the temple where I had just purchased flowers to use as an offering.


All the people prostrating in front of the temple.


Notice the 4 men leaving the temple with canvas aprons on. They prostrated the whole journey from their home so they wear the aprons to save their clothes.

The people prostrate in front of the temple in the morning when it is cooler outside.

View from top of temple of people prostrating.

Tibetan people

The day we drove to the lake we met this sweet old man and his granddaughter on the road. I think they were waiting for a bus as there really isn’t anything up at the lake.

Grandpa and Angel

They talked more before I started taking the video.

Notice the middle woman with the baby on her back.


I loved this picture of their backs. They must have been hot and took their dress off their one shoulder.


The women never cut their hair. Look and see how it is braided across the bottom. I have never seen anything like that. They wear turquoise and coral in their hair.



All the married women wear different colored aprons with varied colors of stripes. This old women is carrying a prayer wheel which I will talk about in another post.

OldLadyPrayerWheel -good one

TibetanFam -hair good

Our tour guide could tell which part of Tibet the people were from by what they wore. The Eastern Tibetan women wore really attractive cowboy hats and dressier shoes.


Ani Tsankhung Nunnery

We visited this beautiful nunnery which is the only one in Tibet. It was down a back alley in the old Tibetan quarter. I was very surprised as I did not know that there were nuns in the Buddhist Religion.


An air of quiet serenity pervades the quaint place, with its flower bushes and spotless compound. In the main room we found all the nuns chanting.


There is a meditation chamber behind used in the 7th century by a Tibetan king of Songtsan Gampo as it was a natural cave. Thus the nunnery was named Tsamkhung, which means the meditation cave.

to nunnery solitude

It was a very small door to enter the room.


There is a nun sitting on the far left but she sat back and covered her face when we pulled out the camera. We were able to look threw the glass at the very center of the room and saw the natural cave  in the cement where they would meditate.

nunnery solitude

These big yak butter candles are found in every monastery and people carry around the hot butter and pour it into the candles as an offering. It was nice to be able to take a picture as not allowed in the monasteries.  To the left there are many little silver bowls filled with water. They are filled every morning as an offering and emptied at night. Our tour guide told us that this is what people do in their homes every morning.

yak butter candle wax


Video of the nuns chanting. The one nun in the second row on the left gave a big smile.

I did not realize these women were nuns when I took the picture the day before. The one is covering her face to not be in the picture.

nuns covering face