Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Guided Tour

We have been traveling as a family for over three months.  During this time, we have not used a tour guide.  In Lhasa, we have decided to join a guided group for touring and later for kayaking.  Following a guide gives one valuable information and can be helpful.  Like every thing in life, though, it has its disadvantages.   In general, I would prefer to travel on my own.

This morning, we and the kayaking crew headed to the old town of Lhasa lead by a very interested and smart local Tibetan guide.  Dawa lead our group through the streets of Lhasa and provided frequent explanations of the market around us.  I found the discussions boring and found it hard to pay attention.  We finally arrived at Jokhang Temple.  This temple is a very special place for Tibetan Buddhists.  Buddhists from Nepal and Tibet come to Lhasa on pilgrimage to prey at this temple.  We spent a couple hours in this dark, smokey, and beautiful temple.  Though the golden Buddha statues were amazing and the wooden carvings were mesmerizing, I would have liked to have left after thirty minutes.  We finally emerged into the dazzling daylight and fresh air.  To me, the group seemed tired.  Sadly, we had to go to visit Dawa’s friend’s gift shop before lunch!  We had a nice lunch break on the top of a building overlooking the temple square. 

Yak Butter for Sale

Women Selling Aprons

Yummy Candy

Tibetans Praying in front of Jokhang Temple

The Roof of Jokhang Temple

Yak Butter Lamps in Jokhang Temple
Roof of Jokhang Temple
View from Roof of Jokhang Temple

After lunch, I thought we were done.  However, the tour continued and we headed off by bus to visit the summer palace of the Dali Llama.  We walked through a dizzying number of buildings in the palace compound.  There were libraries, gardens, pools, fountains and prayer rooms.  Again, the visit was fascinating but I would have left much sooner.  Exhausted, we were on the bus when I caught the word that we were going shopping, yet again.  We made a brief visit to a Tibetan handcraft shop then headed home.

Summer Palace of Dali Lama

Today’s experience with a guided tour was our first.  Following a guide can be great fun, but it left me tired, bored and wiped out.  I found myself hearing a thirty minute speech on a subject that I found less interesting.  Though I was interested by the things I have learned and seen today, I can not deny that guided tours are hard work!  I found myself in a great test of attitude and endurance.  Given the choice, I would prefer to explore with only my family!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!


  1. The trip to the guide’s friend’s shop is always part of the tour, it seems.

    You haven’t mentioned feeling the altitude. Do you notice it or are you well acclimated from the time you spent in Surmang?

    Love the photos as always.

    ps I’ll be offline for the next several days but will catch up with your travels when I return next week.

  2. Hey Chopper!
    I'll answer your question, as Roh hasn't had time to respond to some comments lately. Acclimatizing in Surmang made a HUGE difference. We all feel pretty good at altitude until we try to hike up hill! We also have to constantly drink water for hydration to avoid headaches, but other than that, we feel great!

    More later,