5 Days to Everest — Day 2
The second morning of our trip, we went to the Tashilhunpo palace. This is the home to the Panchen Lama line of monks, though the current Panchen Lama was taken prisoner by the Chinese as soon as the Dalai Lama announced his divinity in 1995. I can’t get many details behind the Great Firewall of China, but I think that he was about 5 years old at the time. However, the Chinese have appointed a Lama to take charge of the palace so that everything runs smoothly for them.
The palace opened at 10am for tourists and we filed in and began walking around. Brian and I took the most clockwise route we could, circling the monastery just inside the walls. However, this did not provide us with much to see, so we began following the crowds a bit more. Inside of the many chapels, things were much the same as in other monasteries, with various representations of different holy
people and things under which were placed stacks of bills. Inside one of the chapels was a kind of souvineer shop, but more authentic than in most tourist attractions, since the monks actually make the items in the same room. Both of us bought something, as much to support the monks as to get the tangiable items.
We met back at the hotel and got on the road at about noon. We made a pit stop at Sakya monastery on the way. It was much smaller, only one chapel, but seemed to have as many beggars. We paid the entrance fee, walked around, and then headed out again, off to Lhatse.
We arrived near dusk and went to eat at a small restaurant. Then we went and checked into our hotel. They wanted 40 Yuan per person, but we got them down to 25. The place was empty and there was another hotel across the street, so that helped. This hotel was the most interesting so far. It had no heat nor hot water, but it did have
wash basins in the room. The toilet was outside and was just a hole in the ground that led down to the ground. This made using the toilet on the second floor (where we were staying) much more adventurous than the first, since there was a constant breeze blowing up.
We went downstairs to the small restaurant/bar to talk over the next day’s travels and get things sorted out. After we had accomplished that, Kernby taught us a card game that is played in many variants throughout Asia. I’m not sure what it’s called and I won’t waste the space to tell the rules, but it is a bit like a cross between Hearts and Poker. We played that for a few more hours and then headed off to