These two Tibetan children were wandering the mountainside looking for yak dung, which they typically plaster in clumps on the side of their homes in order to dry them out, before using for fire fuel. When our bus stopped to take in the view from the top of the mountain pass, the children were curious and wandered over. They must be in their 30s by now.
Lake Yamdrok So, considered sacred by Tibetans. On the road out of Tibet into Nepal. The grazing animals are yaks. In 1987 there were no regular buses, but there were a few independent operators who had teamed up with a couple of guys in Lhasa so you just had to get your name on their list and wait for a bus out.
Prayer flag sculptures at the top of mountain road passes.
All over Tibet we would come upon piles comprised of rock and other things, all carved with Tibetan scripture.
The Potala Palace. The top of the brown section is the home of the exiled Dalai Lama.
At the top of the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
I don’t know what it’s like now, but in 1987 a traveler could enter the grand Potala Palace and explore every part of it, including the private residence of the exiled Dalai Lama. The Tibetans themselves entered the palace with great reverence, restricting their activity and maintaining postures of humility. But we were dumb foreigners and at that time completely unaware that there was a man known as the Dalai Lama who had to flee the Chinese occupation of Tibet for fear of imprisonment or worse. We traipsed around the Dalai Lama’s private quarters taking it all in while the Tibetans kept themselves at the entrance and did not enter. Sometimes when you travel you don’t know the real significance of what you’re seeing. The fuller impact of your experience can come much later, as was the case for me in Tibet.
Prayer flags are printed with Tibetan scripture and hung in auspicious places where the wind slowly shreds the fabric, thereby sending the prayers into the world. Given this bridge over the Lhasa River, you have to wonder if maybe some of the travelers and pilgrims left prayer flags because they were hoping to make it safely across.
The Tibetans were particularly sensitive about being photographed so I did my best to respect that but there were times when I quickly photographed the things I found captivating, such as the 107 braids Tibetan women wove into their hair, along with the chunks of turquoise and bloodstone.