Exciting(?) Lhasa Tour
(Lhasa, 2002 summer)

potala Lhasa is the Tibetan capital with rich green and water. It is special in central Tibet.
In the 'city of sunshine', green trees shade us from the glaring sunlight.
When we enjoy the cool air under trees, we understand the nickname Tibetans give their own land-- sir jong, 'cool land'.

Another 'green' has rooted firmly here for long and made more presence. They are soldiers in green uniform, driving green trucks and tanks.
On a day of July, I found many green soldiers and trucks gathering at the Potala Square. A red banner claimed "Armed Police Tibet Main Troop's Entertainment Exchange Party for 76th celebration of its Establishment", meaning a recreation event for soldiers.

potala and PAP

Sitting in good order under the burning sun

Is the 'picket' man caring about my camera?
Many local Tibetans were surrounding the square to enjoy the stage in really relaxed air. Tibetan dance teams showed songs and dances. Comedians performed comical plays to raise peaceful and safe laughter among the soldiers. When an officer, who seemed to be highly ranked, showed a hopelessly tone-deaf song with Karaoke, the Potala Square was filled with laughter. Everything was actually peaceful. No tension was there.

potala and tank

potala and armored car

Gun barrel is covered up

sighting the gun at the Potala??
All the programs finished in relaxing mood. All the soldiers were packed into the back of trucks and left the square. The tanks and armored cars, which sat on both sides of the stage, crept into the Beijing Road running in front of Potala, turned to the right at the corner of the Post Office and went away slowly to their base.

drapchi. Lhasa Drapche (or Drapchi) Lhamo Temple is sited in the northern part of Lhasa. Famous for the powerful Goddess "Lhamo", the temple is small but active. In front of the main gate, many stall keepers are always selling liquor and incense as offerings for the Goddess. It is a lovely place of praying and loved among local Tibetan people.

drapche monastery

Assembly hall under renovation

drapche monastery

All are new
Passing the gate, we can find the Lhamo Chapel on the right side and the main assembly hall is on the left side. Lhamo Chapel always smells liquor because of endless offerings for Goddess Lhamo. Recently the temple has been under renovation to restore the heavy damage by the Cultural Revolution. All the murals are newly painted. They are actually new and beautiful.
But all the statues are put inside glass cabinets. The Chapel filled with pink fluorescent lamps reminds me of massage parlors in the city. The old and mysterious atmosphere passed away.

drapchi prison. Lhasa After we give an offering liquor to Lhamo and say hello to the new Gods and Goddesses, shall we climb the ladder up to the roof?
We can see green woods and new buildings with brown roofs behind the temple.
What are these modern buildings?

drapchi prison lhasa

drapchi prison lhasa

Main gate of the jail

What a neighbor...
"Tibet Autonomous Region Prison" -- it is known as Drapche (Drapchi) Prison where many political prisoners are reportedly jailed. The main gate is just neighbor of the temple.

potala, Lhasa
A palm tree (fake) in front of Lhasa Department Store near Potala