Tibet Travelogue

August 2007


This is a short travelogue describing my trip to Tibet, August 2007. You can click on any picture for a higher resolution photo. For additional insights I picked up while traveling, please check out: Travel to Enlightenment: Peru, Tibet and Bali for Personal Transformation.

Most of the monasteries we visited prohibited picture taking indoors, so we can't show you how beautiful some of the sculptures and artwork were inside. A few let us take as many pictures as we wanted.

Chengdu sun

Our journey started with a flight from Hong Kong to Chengdu, a city of 2 million in central China. The city is  polluted and surrounded by mountains so the pollution has no where to go. This is a picture of the sun at 10 AM on a sunny morning.

panda eating in China

Chengdu is located in Sichuan province, which is famous for its pandas. The majority of pandas in the world are here. This panda is  eating bamboo shoots.

panda playing



Pandas also like to play.


horseback ride to fortress monastery

Outside of Lhasa, one of the first Buddhist monasteries in Tibet was located in a fortress. It was later moved. At 13,000 feet we decided a horseback ride up the hill was well worth the $1.25 US investment.

yak in Tibet

An alternative would have been a yak, but we decided a picture was good enough. Yaks provide butter, milk and yogurt, all staples of the Tibetan diet, as is yak meat, which tastes like tender beef. 

prayer flags in Tibet


The colorful flags are prayer flags. You tie them up to send your prayers out to the universe for manifestation. In the background is the fortress.

Lhasa beer

Another staple of the Tibetan diet is barley, called qingke. It's used to make a type of bread, as well as beer. Lhasa beer, "brewed from the roof of the world" is very tasty.


yarlung tsangpo river at midday

At over 13,000 feet, the sun is pretty intense over the Yarlung Tsangpo River at midday. I described our river crossing in A Lesson from Tibet


sun reflecting



You can see the sun reflecting in Christine's sunglasses in this photo.


solar cooking at samye

This local resident at Samye is using a solar reflector to heat up some water. Due to the high altitude, water boils at 90 degrees centigrade.


Samye monastery

Samye Monastery is surrounded by desert and mountains. There are supposed to be authentic yogis living in the caves in the surrounding mountains, but you need a special permit to go there.

Yarlung Tsangpo river


Another shot of the beautiful Yarlung Tsangpo River, taken late in the afternoon.

Monks debating at Sera Monastery

One of the coolest scenes was watching the monks debating at Sera Monastery. The debates are very spirited and involve a lot of hand clapping. This monk is winding up to deliver his point.

Tibetan Museum

These Tibetan scriptures are located inside the Tibetan Museum. You can feel the love and devotion contained in the writings just from standing near their glass cases.



Christine is standing on the grounds of Norbulingka, which was the summer palace of the Dalai Lama.


Jokhang Temple Tibel



Atop the roof of the Jokhang Temple, one of the most famous in Tibet.


worshippers at Jokhang Temple


A service is being held at the Jokhang Temple. You could feel their love and devotion, even on the roof.


Barkhor Square Tibet


Barkhor square in front of Jokhang. You can see the Potala Palace in the background.


incense at Shoton Festival

5 AM on the morning of the Shoton Festival. The smoke is from incense, which at times, was overwhelming. We had to climb the mountain to view the Thangka unveiling.

Shakyanmuni thankga at Shoton Festival

The rolled up white canvas being carried between the buildings is the Shakyamuni Thangka. It is unveiled once a year at sunrise, marking the beginning of the Shoton Festival.

Sunrise over Lhasa


This is sunrise over Lhasa on the day of the Festival.


Shakyamuni thangka unveiled

Shakyamuni is another name for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Over 300,000 locals and visitors came out to watch the Thangka unveiling. Click here to see a video of the Shoton Festival.

illuminating power of meditation


My favorite picture. Christine took this at the Drepung Monastery - The Illuminating Power of Meditation.


monks chaning at Palco

Christine took this picture in the Palco Monastery while the monks were chanting. Two petitioners are prostrating themselves in the foreground. Notice  the orbs. The feelings of love were intense.

Zhongshan Castle Tibet


Zhongshan Castle, in Gyantse, as seen from the Palco Monastery. It was quite a hike up the mountain, stairs and ladders to get to the top.

looking down from Zhongshan Castle



The view looking down the stairs from near the top of the castle.


atop Zhongshan Castle


This is in the turret atop Zhongshan Castle. In the distance is the Palco Monastery.


monk on scooter



This was one of the monks traveling with us. He was fun and knowledgeable. We had an excellent discussion of Buddhism and mysticism at dinner one evening, with Christine translating for us.


Sakya monks moving meditation

This is a moving meditation by the monks at Sakya Monastery outside Shigatse, Tibet. One of them seemed a little lackadaisical...


monk on cell phone

... and sure enough they were. This monk took a break to reach under his robe and answer his cell phone. Click here to watch the Sakya monks' moving meditation.

Yomdrok Lake Tibet


Yomdrok Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world (almost as high as Lake Titicaca in Peru).


Potala Palace

Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lama. It is 13 stories tall - it looks taller because it's built into the mountain. The red part is for religious affairs, the white is administrative.

train to Xining

Our sleeping car on the train from Lhasa to Xining, northeast of Lhasa, in the Qinghai province, but still on the Tibetan plateau.


double rainbow on the Tibetan plateau


This is part of the most spectacular rainbow I've ever seen. It was a full double rainbow.


double rainbow termination

This is a close up of the termination of the double rainbow.

Click here to see a video of this amazing, double rainbow on the Tibetan Plateau.

snow capped mountains Tibet


A few of the snowcapped mountains we saw on our train ride. There are also yaks grazing.


Starbucks in Lanzhou China


Even in remote areas of China you can find a Starbucks!


mosque in Lanzhou


A mosque in Lanzhou. Almost a third of the population is Moslem in the Gansu province, located in northwest China.

monk at play


A monk at play in Lanzhou.


Chengdu show

We attended a show in Chengdu, with jugglers, tumblers and puppeteers. The highlight of the show is the "changing faces" act. The actor stomps his foot, touches his face or some such prop and his mask changes instantly. This specialty originated in Sichuan province.

All in all, it was a great trip. My only unfulfilled wish was that we didn't get to see the Himalayas, so we'll have to go back. The next time, I think we'll start at Katmandu in Nepal and travel to the Everest base camp. Of course, we'll have to wait until next year.

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Edwin Harkness Spina

Ed is the author of the award-winning, visionary thriller, Mystic Warrior  and Mystic Secrets Revealed.

Be sure to visit:

Peru Travelogue

Travel to Enlightenment

Bali Travelogue

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Copyright 2007-2011 by Edwin Harkness Spina & Christine Chen. All Rights Reserved.