Truly speaking, to visit Lhasa and Potala Palace has been in my heart for over 5 years, and finally it came out true on a 10 days trip in Tibet. The feeling of traveling in Tibet is very complicated, and totally different with the coastal cities tour, or some so called cultural scenic spots tour, maybe Lhasa is the last pure land of China, and the only place has its true and strong believes. It is a land filling of amazings and surprises. But these are not the topics I am going to show you this time. My favorite part is the Potala Palace.
Walk to the top better do slowly, for the air is very thin and the sun like a laser at that altitude, your body will warm up in very short time. BTW, you should keep less day activities in Tibet for the mountain sickness.
Our Potala Palace tourin begins at the top with the Dalai Lama's living quarters and the most atmospheric place where the remains of former Dalai Lamas is held. The gold stupas are sized proportionately to the importance of the died Dalai Lamas. Usually, the smallest ones belong to the Dalai Lamas who died young or did little for Tibetab Buddhism. BTW, the smell of incense pervaded the air as most temples of China's did. It's a pity that one hour is definitely not enough to tour and appreciate these ancient buildings complex, though it is probably enough to get a taste of things. Meanwhile, It is forbidden to take pictures inside Potala Palace, but you can take some amazing inside pictures from street vendors. How did they manage to take these? Strange.
I don't pretend to understand the entire situation, only enough of it to know that it's not as black and white as America wants it to be. I think it would be very easy to arrive in Lhasa, see all the Chinese development, the influx of Chinese people, the visible presence of Chinese military personnel, the Chinese flag waving outside the Potala, and become infuriated. Rightfully so perhaps.
Lhasa was not the medieval entrance to the majestic land that I hoped to explore. Hell, I flew there on China Airways. But at the same time, there IS something magical about the people in Tibet, strong in the face of all this attention. Attention both from China and the global community, thousands of whom are constantly gathered in and around the cafes and hostels of Lhasa just watching all the drama unfold.
I would definitely recommend visiting, as much for all of the natural beauty surrounding Lhasa as the social enigma that is the capital city itself. Go soon though.