53rd day Tues 3rd June: From Kathmandu to Pokhara‏

Left pretty early this morning to get to Pokhara. City of lots of lakes. About a four and a half hour drive. It is the second largest city of Nepal and a very popular tourist attraction because of trekking and mountain views.

The journey itself was fairly uneventful. We passed some interesting small villages. The Banyan tree seemed in all these towns to be a central talking/meeting place for the village elders. Lots of green, lush vegetation and hilly and overtaking, especially of lorries was quite difficult.

When we reached Pokhara in the late afternoon, it started to rain quite heavily with thunder and lightening. We couldn't make the mountain walk because of the weather. Remarkable how different the outskirts of Pokhara was to the inner tourist part. There was a sudden and dramatic transformation from disorderly, busy bustling streets to tranquil boutique like quaint shops, catering for tourists. For information - and we did pass it has the largest recruiting and training centre for Gurkhas in Nepal.

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Our map for the journey.
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City traffic.

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Elegant flats on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

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Some videos below:

Click to watch street video 1

Click to watch street video 2

Click to watch street video 3

52nd day Mon 2nd June: Day in Kathmandu‏


We had an interesting discussion at breakfast this morning, it centered around an incident that occurred with my i pad a few days ago in which I almost lost it at a combined petrol station/police check point. As we were about to drive off, luckily the policeman ran across the forecourt to hand over the i pad. A serious situation and the perpetrator had to be brought to justice.
We set up a court room scenario in which the accused was Kirit, who was also defending himself. Manvir was the accuser and senior prosecutor i.e. that it was Kirit who took the i pad out of the vehicle, left it on the policeman’s desk and walked off, pre occupied with a phone call he had received at the same time. Peter was a witness and I was the judge (I was out of the picture since I was driving and had remained, during this entire time in the driving seat.)
The long and short of it, after all the facts had been considered during the court hearing, including positioning people relative to where the i pad had been left on the table. The verdict was announced. The judge (me) ruled at the start, as is normal protocol, that previous misdemeanours involving Mr Kirit Patel of forgetfulness/absentmindedness will not be considered by the court. The evidence had to be considered and the verdict was given, based on ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. All involved conducted themselves professionally, although on a couple of occasions I did have to call ‘order’ and gave a general warning I will not tolerate misconduct in my court under any circumstance -
In summing up, a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’ was returned based on two crucial points:
1) Importantly the prosecution agreed with the defense, that in the car, if at any time in the past Mr Kirit Patel used the i pad to take photos, he would immediately hand it back and so on this occasion the defense claims he did not have the i pad in the first instance, to take out of the car.
2) Crucially, another witness was missing from the cross examination, Mr Bing and without considering his side of this incident, an element of doubt becomes established. Additionally, since the defense had insisted, it was Mr Bing who could have removed the i pad from the car, together with all the other formal documentation he had to show the police official – this is an important, missing link, in giving my final judgement.
This Court is adjourned – Had a great laugh over the scenario acting.
After this exhausting secession we spent the day in Kathmandu, centre, just relaxing and walking around. Apart from this morning’s detailed discussions, we had had a pretty manic past week and so it was good to sit quietly somewhere – we chose a roof top cafe.

Click here to watch some of the streets

We also spent some time at a Holiday agency, booking activities and places to see in the next few days in Kathmandu. Tomorrow we are travelling to Pokhara, we have also planned a fly over Everest and Himalayas and Water Rafting – Should be fun.

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With a holiday activity agency,booking activities for the next few days.
Typical streets of Kathmandu below:

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Lots of bits and bobs on sale.

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Cafe ,where we spent the afternoon – interesting to see the mangled up electricity cables.

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Our hotel for two nights.

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A new dimension is also going to be added to our travels. Some of our partners are joining us in a few days, for the Kathmandu part and some also continuing with us by road, to complete the final stretch in India. Then homeward bound.

51st day Sun 1st June: From Zhangmu to Katmandu (Nepal)‏

Couldn’t stay in bed late, even if I wanted to – scene outside my hotel bedroom, work had already started at 7.30am.

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Tight narrow street – just this one!

Our journey to Nepal begins.

When we woke up in the morning, we were full of expectation that we were going to leave Tibet/China and cross the border into Nepal. The first checkout point was a doodle, they had to check the vehicle papers, which had already been checked tons of times before. Then a query that the engine no’s in two documents do not marry up, false alarm, they had made the mistake themselves.

We drove to the next checking point, still on the same narrow single street which had now extended several miles. You can imagine the chaos, with stack of lorries queuing to get out of Tibet. One good thing was that it was a Sunday.

At the second checkpoint, we had to wait for some important documents to have been signed at the previous checkpoint (which we couldn’t bring with us, because the official who was meant to have signed it, was not at the building – probably because it’s a Sunday! I hope you are managing to follow this, just trying to illustrate something that can be quite straightforward but was made so complicated.

Bing was now starting to give us information that indicated we may have to stick around another day, because the official may not even turn up. We were quite a long way from any decent hotels, turning around was physically not an option, so the dread of spending the night possibly in the car was starting to slowly get us down.

This second checkpoint was a hub of activity, it’s funny how at any border we have visited on our trip, there is an overlap of nationalities and how they subtly but distinctly change. In this case the dress and facial appearance was more Nepalese and less of the rugged, country looking Tibetian, although we were still on the Tibetian/Chinese side.

From this second checkpoint you could see the Friendship Bridge, this is the bridge we have to cross over once we have finished the passport and customs formalities on the Chinese side.

Anyway good news thankfully soon prevailed with the news that the relevant papers have now been signed and were on their way. We cleared customs and further vehicle formalities and were on our way to the Friendship Bridge (fifty yards from the second check point). Crossing into Nepal was a pleasure, things just suddenly felt a lot more friendlier and relaxed.

The drive to Kathmandu was fairly torturous – with narrow, very bendy roads. Overtaking was risky and timing had to be right, I should know, I drove most of the way to Kathmandu. The additional minor complication was we have a LHD vehicle and from Nepal onwards we were now driving on the LHS – complicated, yes it was initially, because you had to get your head around it.

The route itself was very scenic.

Apparently there seems to be a lot of Bungy jumping activity in Kathamandu and we were lucky enough to witness a few. May be, I can be called a coward, but no thought on my part to attempt it!
Kathmandu is quite a big city, fairly clean and seems to be built around luscious hills. Can see lots of European tourists. After the restrictiveness of China, seem to feel as if we are back to some form of normality.

China was an excellent place with lots of friendly people, but you can see the prevalence of the iron fist ruling the country. With such high security in most towns and cities we visited and additionally all those check points we had to go through – nightmare!

Stayed in a good quality hotel, thanks to wifey (the hotel belongs to her friend, who she studied with over thirty years ago).


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Picture of the 1st check point.

The long line of truck waiting for customs clearance – this is on a Sunday!


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Official taxis for the town – the only efficient way to travel in this town.


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The chaos.

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Life continues – everything taken in their stride.

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Distinctly new look, especially the nose piercings.


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All below near border crossing with Nepal – but still on the Tibet/ China side.


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Not an easy life.
Can be fun.
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What are you looking at grandad?

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This was an actual scene on the border. Chinese official with the gloves about to do do some examination.

More photos of Locals
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Distinct difference in clothing now apparent.photo 5

Women having a cig. – no I didn’t go and counsel her on smoking cessation.




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Scene before we had cleared customs,our LC would have to go through this inspection.

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Scene after we had cleared customs – where you see the Guard on duty is the start of the Friendship Bridge.

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Waiting for our vehicle to come through.


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Saying goodbye to Bing – our guide for the last 3 weeks.
No way would we have been able to travel China without him – well done, such a nice guy.

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Crossing Friendship Bridge – having cleared Chinese immigration.

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Chaos on the Nepalese side – but a lot more relaxed .Hard to imagine how people live such contrasting lives, in the space of 200 yards.
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Getting our Carnat sorted out – by some wheeler dealers. They did get the job done.

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The bendy roads to Kathmandu. Get it wrong and quite a big drop.

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Bungy jumping time – ( for others) .

Click to watch bungy jumping video 1


Click to watch bungy jumping video 2


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You pay extra to ride on the top – scary.

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A few photos, driving to the city – Kathamandu.


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Local street scene on our way to Kathmandu, the temperature must have been over 30 degree C, that’s why the woolly blankets are at half price. Great to see fresh fruit and veg once again.

Map of border crossing into Nepal from Tibet/ China (Zhangmuzhen).
Have travelled a long distance – one more country to go!

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50th day Sat 31st May: From Everest Base Camp & The North Face to Zhangmu (on the border with Nepal)

Today by the morning, we needed to leave as soon as possible, because although spending time next to the the highest point in the world, was the greatest thing ever, our overnight Yurt accommodation, like all the others at base camp, was extremely basic. I think when we woke up at about six, the temperature inside must have been a numbing 2 to 3 degrees C. Outside with the chill factor with the wind must have been at least -5 degrees C. I did get up at about 5 am to use the outside loo – I had to go! Boy what an experience and best left at that. A mettle shed which from the outside looked ok, but from the inside, two rectangular shaped cut outs in the floor into which you do the business (sorry, trying not to be too descriptive), with a hole, which by no means was very deep – that’s it, about this topic.

We were out pretty sharply, on our way to Zhangmu – the border town from which we will be exiting China/Tibet into Nepal the next day.

On numerous occasions, I have mentioned how beautiful the scenery is, somehow maybe implying it is better than in previous places or areas. It would be unfair to suggest this is the case, because there is a uniqueness in the beauty we have encountered, whereever we have travelled to and whichever area. Today was no exception and again what we encountered, the further we travelled southwards was a complete contrast to, not only yesterday’s unique views but I think it contrasted with the scenes we had encountered during the past month. From desert barren lands and mountains with snow to today, a green valley full of vegetation.

Final morning photos of Mt Everest – well below zero.

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The offending loo to the left of the above photo.

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Off we go into the snow……

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Click Here to Watch the Video of the Road

Even after leaving Base camp we encountered some beautiful mountain scenery.

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A peril, thankfully we missed.

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Click Here to Watch The Video of the Road

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Tibetan colours tied at an auspicious place. Don’t know how they managed to tie these ones.

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There’s a bit of monkey business that has been spotted in the vicinity.

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Kirit posing in front of the greenery.

Monkey business in motion……

Click here to Watch Video of Monkey Business



49th day Fri 30th May ~ making our way from Tingri to Everest Base Camp(EBC)‏

Brilliant day today, however the day didn’t start very well. After a great night’s sleep, as a consequence of which, we got up late! Of all the days, today we needed to get out early!
Went to have a shower and the hot/cold control snapped off and the bath tap water was working was dispensing freezing water. Luckily there was a stainless steel wash bowl, borrowed another one from Manvir’s room – by this time they were already to go. The kettle that I had used the previous night to warm up the room was handy this time to boil enough water to be able to have a wash – what a palaver!

Anyway got on our way after a slight delay – Pretty excited about the next couple of days – Mt Everest and the North Face, can it get any better? However the excitement was coupled with a tinge of nervousness because we had already been pre warned about the sanitation there being extremely basic, with one toilet shared by 200 others! We shall see. I’m sure the ‘superviews’ will compensate for the above!!

We reached another driving milestone on our journey today, we have today completed 10,000 miles of road travelling and how fitting it was achieved on the day we reached the EBC.

I know we have seen some stunning scenery previously but what we saw on this leg was beyond stunning.

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We were also privileged in observing some Tibetan Antelope, our guide said it was really rare to see them.

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Meeting our pharmacy friends – Dick and Judy again.

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One of several security/ speed stops – we will all be glad to see the back of these.

One our way to Everest Base Camp (EBC) we saw some interesting country dwelling people. These particular ones were on the way to the horse races.

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Even this elderly lady was off to the races.

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Travelling with the Yak…..

Click Here to Watch Travelling With Yak


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Took lots of shots as we approached Mt Everest.The dominance of the North Face became more and more apparent as we got closer to it.

Click to Watch the Video of the Views


Incredible to believe but we have taken the Land Cruiser to the Highest Point in the world!

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Have been very fortunate indeed to get an absolutely clear day again, this does not happen that often, seeing the North Face of Mt Everest in its full glory?

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Views of North Face from Base camp.

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The colour blue as you have never seen it.

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I spent a lot of time on the roof of the LC.


Walking to a view point  – it was bloody exhausting climbing this little mound.

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Hope you’re not getting bored of this but, as I mentioned before to have a clear day like this was rare!

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Here comes the sunset scenes…… amazing…..


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The group sharing this magic moment:

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Video clip of excitement at base camp, with the sun setting on Mt Everest.

Click here to Watch the Video of Mt Everest
After further snaps of the sun set on Mt Everest, we settled for dinner – dug into pot noodle purchased previously from the supermarket, set around the tip yee, which was generating good heat and we went to sleep. Yesterday we were in a great bed and got almost 10hrs sleep, tonight !!!! We knew the heat would diminish very quickly.

48th day Thurs 29th May ~ Journey from Shigatse to Tingri in Tibet

Hello everyone, as you all can see, this blog has been posted late, because for the first time in our journey we have had no wi-fi at the evening accommodations since Thursday evening. photo 1 We are slowly edging our way towards Everest base camp.Today was all about the journey – the good and the bad parts….. Altitude sickness slightly better then previous few days, have started to take some medication for it, just cannot risk the bad side effects experienced previously. My patch of driving was quite challenging, with sharp mountain bends and really rough roads. But still great fun driving the LC in this type of terrain.

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Country folk going about their business……. photo 5 photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 5   photo 6

Friendly, but weary of finding out – how friendly?


Click Here to Watch Video of People Working in Field

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After this close encounter, we made our way back to the LC.       photo 7

Some scenes along the way: photo 1 (1) photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 3 photo 4

Click Here to Watch the Video of the Road Ahead


Click Here to Watch the Video of the Road under Construction

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photo 1 Offices in Tingri that we had to go to, in order to get our passes for tomorrow when we head to the Everest Base Camp.


photo 2 Kirit being Kirit – needed oxygen because he was feeling weak in the knees.


photo 3 Now revived – he’s back with his mates.


photo 4 Circular prayer bell at a local monastery in Tingri


photo 5 Dung ,used extensively for heating A local monastery we visited on the way to the hotel…..


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Views from the monastery… photo 3 photo 5


We then checked in our hotel; basically we had a choice of just the one in Tingri – it was freezing outside and actually it was no better inside our hotel room neither. The discussion about dinner was very quickly resolved as some of us were not prepared to eat another Chinese meal and so one thing led to another resulting in Manvir and me taking over the hotel kitchen to prepare a chicken curry!!

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The chef was brilliant and accommodated us in every way. We had a pretty satisfying meal, one which we may cherish especially in the next few nights, where we will return to very basic accommodation and no proper hot meals.

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Mentioned previously that room was very cold, our solution – we boiled the kettle, adding water continuously to the kettle, kept the lid open, and it did break the chill and warmed up the room a bit!   With no wi-fi at this hotel, we were tired anyway, all went to bed relatively early.


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47th day Wed 28th May: Visiting inside Potala Palace in Lhasa then drive to Shigatse in Tibet

We are making the visit to Potala Palace (PP) in a special religious month in the Tibetan calendar. Large numbers of people can be seen circling not only the Potala Palace grounds, which is massive, but also other religious parts of the city, from once, three, five (odd numbers only) times in the day. Quite a tough feat considering, large number who were walking were elderly and distances they will be covering.

Click Here to Watch The Video of Potala Palace Walk

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During the religious month Tibetian Buddhists also refrain from eating meat. Meat is normally in their diet because of the altitude above sea level on which Tibet lies, however it is not a preference for them.

The three Buddhas in PP were givers of Wisdom, Power, Energy  and Compassion, all teachings to get rid of the three main poisons and be able to live a better life – the three poisons they suggested are Ignorance, Desire and Hatred.

Today we were actually visiting the inside of PP but first we had to walk
to the top, equivalent to almost a 13 story high building.

Original start to PP dates back to the 7th century, it is the highest building in Lhasa. There is a Red and White part to the Palace, the former is smaller and mainly used by the previous Dalai Lamas for administration, learning and meeting dignitaries. The White part is the monastery/Chapel and is still used today for prayer. In its entire construction, no nails have been used. It is the 5th Dalai Lama who seems to have the pride of position at PP. Also buried here under a massive ‘Stupa’ to his name which has over 3700 kg of gold in its construction.


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A priest in reflective thought.

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Long drapes made of Yak fur, protects paint from the sometimes fierce direct sunlight.


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Potala Palace is surrounded by 8 auspicious mountains.

Below is the White Palace – previously used by the Dalai Lama as their admin and meeting place with dignitaries.

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We saw an extremely old method of using natural material and tools to make as a final finished, a solid extremely smooth floor:

Click to Watch Traditional Method of Making Floor

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Painstakingly slow but produces a great finish.


On the previous evening, we had decided to visit the Potala Palace to see its magnificence in full lighting. It really was spectacular (4 images from the previous evening are below):

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Today, walking back to the hotel, we saw something we had not seen before. Unsure whether I should have sent these next two clips, but on balance I decided to do so – although these are very cute, but it highlights child poverty is universal and a child’s innocence should not be taken away at such a young age.

Click Here to Watch a Child Singing

Click Here to Watch a Child Dancing

After this we headed towards Shigatse in Tibet. On the way we experienced rain for the first time. Driving was fun.

Click Here to Watch our Drive in the Rain

Click Here to Watch our Drive in the Rain Video 2

Some photos of our journey to Shigatse – hugging Lhasa River most of the way.


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The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa

Visited the Jokhang Monastery today – it is the center around which the city of Lhasa developed. Built in 648 (about 1350 years ago) and  expanded to present scale in the 17th century after several renovations. It is also located on the famous Barkhor Square. For most Tibetans, it is  the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and brought Buddhism into this land.

On the outside, we saw people conducting prayers…

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Click Here to Watch Jokhang Temple Video

There is a wonderful history relating to how it’s construction came about:

Jokhang Temple (“House of the Lord”) in Lhasa is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo (r.617-49), the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king’s first wife, Princess Bhrikuti (married in the 630s), was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng (married 641), was the niece or daughter of the Chinese emperor.


The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet.

The temple has been regularly expanded over the years, including extensive reconstruction under the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Remarkably, however, the core of the temple is still original from the 7th century.

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Some legends……

Various traditions explain the foundation of the temple. In one version, Queen Bhrikuti founded the temple to house the statue, while Queen Wengcheng chose the site based on the principles of geomancy (feng shui). Another legend says that the king threw his ring into the air, asking the spirits to show him where to build the temple. The ring fell into a lake, from which a stupa emerged. The lake was filled in to support Jokhang Temple, whose central shrine was built over the miraculous stupa.

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Inside the temple…….

Inside the temple- no photos were allowed to be taken .It was a real mystery tour, with numerous statues and images of Buddha and lots of Tibetans patiently waiting in a queue to offer their prayers.


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Yes I did buy some beads – will in the future be walking the streets of London, meditating and counting.


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Views from top of Jokhang Temple. Can see Potala Palace in the background.


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2nd Day in Lhasa: At the hospital for a routine blood test: 27th May

Went to bed at about 2am last night, finishing off the blog and the e-mails, but just could not get to sleep. Kirit was shuffling around in the other bed and before we knew it we were wide awake and didn’t finally get to sleep till 6am. Talked a bit about the new ‘Pharmacist Work & Lifestyle’ magazine, and the different angles the magazine could be directed towards in the future – sad talking about pharmacy at this time of the morning! We have done pretty well to avoid discussing pharmacy as a topic at best of times. But there is a lot happening in our profession and get drawn in from time to time.


After an hour of sleep, we went to the hospital we visited yesterday and we all had our blood test done, no particular reason, just to see how the process works here.

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They were pretty efficient, you just stood in a line queue, when your turn came you put your arm through a glass hatch, for a nurse to take the blood sample.


We continued on our day tour and found Bollywood in Tibet too!

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Old Lhasa.

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Chinese flags flying prominently.

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There was a connection with this restaurant and the sixth Dalai Lama – 300 years ago.
The 6th Dalai Lama – Tsangyang Gyatso, is a legendary and controversial figure with a life full of mysteries, and he was only 23 when he died.
However, bearing the label of “The Rebel Dalai Lama”, and as a passionate and young person who was constantly seeking love that was forbidden to him, he has left many beautiful love poems.
Throughout his life, he was probably struggling between “what he was forced to be” and “what he truly wanted to be”.

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