August 3, 2007: Lhasa - Drepung Monastery
Slept pretty good. We got up as usual around 8 am and had breakfast in the dining room. The Nepali
Consulate opens at 10 am, but we also needed money, so we left the hotel around 9 am. We walked
past the Potala to where the Bank of China is located. As I had traveler checks which I wanted to
convert that was the only place to go we were told. Being in a communist country even changing
money is a big task! I went into the bank and had to draw a number. I had 27 and they were serving
number 19. About 20 minutes later it was finally my turn and I got my precious Yuan. We continued
walking towards the Nepali Consulate. There were lots of Chinese and a few Westerners in line. As
soon as we filled out our application, however, we were waved to the front of the line. Lots of
unhappy Chinese faces but I smiled! We put in our application and were told to come back at 4 pm to
pick up our passports then with the visas. We went back to the hotel where we met up with Selam and
soon thereafter left to Drepung Monastery.
Selam tried to get a cab outside the
hotel, but he did not want to pay the
Chinese drivers outrageous prices (30
yuan = $ 4). He yelled at a couple of
those cab drivers. Priceless. No love lost
between the Tibetans and the Chinese.
We finally took the bus. The bus ride
took about 20 minutes and we we exited
the bus at the bottom of the hill where
Drepung Monastery is located. Marc and
I decided we should walkup there. Selam
was not too happy. He had been
drinking the night before and now he
had to follow 2 Germans up the hill..It
took us about 30 minutes to walk up to
the Monastery with lots of stops for our
high-altitude guide! And he was
supposed to go with us on our trek....We
had lots of fun with him!
Drepung Monastery is located about 8 km west of Lhasa. Like Sera, it is a Gelugpa Monastery and
was founded in 1416. Within a year of completion, it already housed 2,000 monks.In 1530, the
second Dalai Lama established Ganden Palace within Drepung and it was from here that the early
Dalai Lamas controlled Tibet. The second, third and fourth Dalai Lama are all entombed at Drepung
Monastery. By the time the fifth Dalai Lama was in power (the one who built the Potala), Drepung
Monastery had between 7,000 - 10,000 resident monks.
We toured the Monastery for about 3 1/2 hours. From the rock paintings to the Main Assembly Hall
and Ganden Palace, there was so much to see, it was spectacular. Selam would take Marc's camera
and film inside a couple of the halls. Unfortunately, his hand was not very steady...
At around 3 pm, we left Drepung and took a cab back. Marc and I left the cab at the Lhasa Hotel
and went over to the Nepali Consulate to pick up our passports and visas. Lots of Chinese again and
we were pretty much at the end of the line, but again, just like in the morning, we were asked to come
to the front of the line. All Westerners were waved in ahead of the Chinese.
Back at the hotel, we had a late lunch and wrote a few postcards which we bought at Drepung. Then
we headed one last time to the Barkhor to shop. I bought a Tibet shirt but Marc did not find
anything he absolutely had to have. Dinner again at the Dunya with lots of our "Dutch friends",
Marc ate Sizzlin' Chicken and I had Spaghetti Carbonara. It was gooood! Back at the hotel we spend
some time at the bar and had a nightcap.