Last time we have already talked about how to prepare for cycling on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway as well as the cycling route of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway. And now as we arrive in Lhasa, the last stop of cycling route of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, I would like to introduce some beautiful places in Lhasa that worth us to have a ride.
The first thing I would like to do is to give a brief introduction of Lhasa to you.
Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, which has a history of more than 1300 years and is also a regional political, economic, cultural and transportation centre. Lhasa covers an area of nearly 30,000 square kilometres, in which its urban area is 51 square kilometres. And it has a population of about 400 thousand people, with an urban population of more than 140,000. There are Tibetan, Han, Hui and other nationalities, in which the Tibetan population accounts for 87%.
Lhasa has a beautiful scenery. Lhasa River, which is called “the blue wave of joy”, runs from the snow-capped Nyainqntanglha Mountains, surging and spraying, with waves flying over, going through countless forests, canyons and pastoral areas, which has a full length of 315km. The ancient city of Lhasa stands on the blue auspicious river. With the Potala Palace looking lofty, horizontal streets, high building clusters, coming and going busy and colourful life, you will meet ancient and modern, traditions and innovations, religion and common, yesterday, today as well as tomorrow colliding, agglomerating and reconciling.
Lhasa enjoys the name of “the city under the sunshine” as its annual sunshine time is about 3000 hours. The rainy season of summer and autumn is the most beautiful and comfortable time of Lhasa. As it rains more at night, it forms a “ raining at Lhasa night” unique weather.
Now I would like to introduce the cycling destinations in Lhasa to you.
1. The Potala Palace.
Viewed from afar, the Potala Palace looks lofty, resplendent and majestic and it stands superbly in the bright sun. It is the ruling centre of Tibetan politics and religion.
The main building of the Potala Palace is built near to the mountain, with the buildings overlapping. The main building is 117 meters high, and a total of 13 floors. It is 370 meters long from east to west. Under the mountain affiliated building, there is an old City of Snow, the King of Dragon Lake and so on. It is the tallest and largest palace style building complex in the world today.
In 1994, the Potala Palace was officially listed in the World Heritage List as a cultural heritage by UNESCO. Its beauty is beyond words and you all should have a look at it on your own.
2. Namtso Lake
Namtso Lake is the highest lake in the world and the second largest salina in China. In Tibetan, “Namtso” means the sky. Anyone who travels to Tibet should not miss it. Its purity and solemn is the symbol of the Tibetan plateau.
The lake is approximately rectangular and it’s the largest lake in Tibet. The lake is clear blue and the depth of the water is more than 30 meters. There are 3 rocky islands in the lake with steep shore and jagged rocks in grotesque shapes. Each year in late October, the lake begins to freeze until the next May, and the ice age is about half a year. When the lake is frozen, humans and animals can walk on the ice. In summer, there are a large number of red-hemp ducks, fish gulls, cormorants and other migratory birds spend the summer here. The lake is surrounded by lush grasses, and it is one of the fine pastures of northern Tibet. Namtso Lake has abundant fish resources. Whenever the weather is fine, you can see those fishes playing in the flat-as-mirror lake.
3. The Jokhang Temple.
The Jokhang Temple was built in honour of the coming of Bhrkuti Devi Princess by the Tibetan King Songtsan. After successive repairs and additions, it forms a huge complex.
The temple has the highest status in Tibetan Buddhism, which is the most glorious extant-tubo-era architecture in Tibet, and also is the earliest construction of civil structure construction in Tibet, and has created a Tibetan-style temples layout.
The temple is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery which was listed by the State Council of China as one of the first batches of important historical monuments under special preservation in 1961. In November 2000, UNESCO added the temple as an extension of the Potala Palace into the World Heritage List.
4. The Barkhor Street.
The Barkhor Street, also known as Octagonal Street, is one of the oldest commercial streets in Lhasa, surrounded by the Jokhang Temple. Most of the shops in the street make a living by selling traditional Tibetan supplies and tourist souvenirs. The Barkhor Street has become the "place of finding the treasure" of tourists to Lhasa. Tibetan commodities are selling on Barkhor Street and the shops look very attractive even after they are closed. The Barkhor Street was built and developed with the development of the Jokhang Temple, which has a history of more than 1300 years.
We need to know something about its customs when cycling in Lhasa.
1. The biggest taboo for Tibetans is killing. Tibetans are absolutely forbidden to eat donkeys, horse meat and dog meat, and some areas do not eat fish.
2. When drinking buttered tea and the host pours you a cup of tea, the guests only can receive the tea when the tea is offered to your front. Avoid handing over items by a hand.
3. When going into the temple, avoid smoking, touching the Buddha, turning scriptures, or beating the drums. Do not touch the amulets, beads and other religious artifacts. Keep quiet in the temple and keep your body upright when seating. Avoid sitting Buddha's seats.
4. The Tibetans stretched their tongues to show respect rather than ridicule and Namaste is a courtesy to do.
5. Using your finger pointing to Joss, tangka, religious texts or mural painting is forbidden. Palm up and point to it flatly to show your respect instead.
Lhasa, the city of sunlight, is really worth a cycling trip there. Now, let’s set off with our friends and enjoy the spectacular scenery to Lhasa!