Lhasa has a forgettable Chinese new town, and a Tibetan old town called Barkhor that is centered on the Jokhang monastery. The first thing you see is people prostrating themselves at the entrance, flat on the ground. The main room inside is dark and gloomy, with a biog golden Buddha in the center. People move clockwise around it and visit the many little shrine rooms adjoining the hall. Large stone bowls are filled with liquid Yak butter used as candles; pilgrims constantly refill the bowls from their brightly colored plastic thermos cans.
Had lunch at an old Tibetan restaurant: Yak butter tea, Yak meat dumplings, potatos filled with minced Yak meat, and sliced Yak meat. Yak Yak Yak. Great, except it turns out I don’t like Yak butter, let them burn it.
There is an inner alley ring around Jokhang that is for tourists, mostly Chinese and pilgrims. The #1 article is prayer wheels, lots of people here who keep spinning them. I exhausted the souvenir circuit, checking every stall and every shop in an unsuccessful search for a specific article. I got hundreds of “hello lookee” calls for my trouble. I am fairly certain I missed nothing because tourists don’t stray and don’t explore. Just five meters away from the circuit the prayer wheels and other souvenir junk disappear instantly and sensible things like shoes and flashlights are sold. (Just had a power outage.)
At every entry to the old town, at all major intersections inside, and in all large squares are posts with five or more policemen, an euphemism for Chinese army. I was warned that they must under no circumstances be photographed.