Tibet 2016 - Xigaze

2016-10-14 Xigaze, Tashilumpo monastery, elevation 3917m

At last the opportunity to complete a kora. The circuit at Tashilumpo monastery is quite long, and involves quite a lot of climbing. It is a very attractive route and it was very good weather, so altogether an excellent day. The rest of the party did only half the circuit, and then left to go through the walking street and markets in the town centre. I carried on to complete the circuit, and for most of this part of the route, I was accompanied by the goat pictured here. We were both doing our thing, and keeping our distance - as far as possible - but also aware of each other, and covering the same ground. A friendly companion.

Tibet 2016 - Potala palace

2016-10-11 Lhasa, Potala palace, elevation 3658m

I was rather disappointed to find that we ended up doing only half of the kora of the Potala. I would like to have done the entire circuit. The rushing through the Potala that is now mandatory provides the reasons I dislike the current tourist setup. It means that explanations from your guides are gabbled; they find it difficult to repeat stuff that for those that haven't heard; and there's a pressure to move on, move on, move on, the whole time. I was surprised that we did not go up to the roof. Previously, I remember going up to the roof. Just as well I I've got pictures from there many years ago.. This time, it was just through the main Potala rooms and then back down to kora or sighting spots. We did go to a little lake at the back of the Potala with some very good views of it which I haven't seen before.

Jompa is a fantastic guide. She helped me with what portion of the kora we did. Of course, the fact that I, a foreigner, and obviously a tourist, with caucasian hair colour, western dress, but having a mala and doing mantras was an instant passport to family groups, particularly those headed by a matriarch, as most were. They asked me what I was doing; asked Jampa what I was doing; and the general reaction was 'oh he's a foreigner, how can  he know about this stuff'.  It wass quite fascinating, and it happened five or six times. One notable encounter was where the woman of the family, while carrying a balloon and toy in one hand, and her mala in the other, showed me how to use a mala, and how to do mantras, properly. Using the mala involves rolling the bead inwards over the finger with the thumb. This is its use, whichever hand is used. The woman was very insistant, and would not leave it until I had demonstrated that my mastery was complete. All in all a quite wonderful time. I just wish it had been complete.

So far this time I've done kora round Johang, kora round Sera monastery, and half kora round Potala. I did feel I was starting to get into the mantra a little in the third and last of these koras.