Kia Ora Tibet

I'm a Kiwi who's currently living on the roof of the world in Lhasa.
These are the stories and photos of my adventures in Tibet: learning the language, exploring the country, discovering the culture, and meeting so many wonderful people.
All content is original, and questions are welcome.
copyright kiaoratibet2014.

The Epic of Gesar: 

One of Tibet’s most famous stories is the Epic of Gesar, the story of a legendary hero and his adventures. Believed by many people to be the longest story in the world (according to scholars it has more than one million verses), it has traditionally been passed down and recounted orally for hundreds of years. 

Not just anyone can recite this story, it requires years of specialist training and is therefore not something that ordinary people can see very often. During the Horse Racing Festival in Nagchu this year we were lucky enough to stumble upon a tent where a performance of Gesar was taking place. 

The man was incredible: barely stopping for breath he chanted as if the story was being spoken through him, not by him, occasionally breaking into song for several verses before once again resuming a chanted pattern.

The audience was enraptured by the story. Personally I couldn’t understand any of it, but I enjoyed the performance nonetheless. 

Hanging prayer flags, Lhasa, Tibet

Hanging prayer flags, Lhasa, Tibet

The “Valley of Prayer Flags” near Pabongkha Monastery, north of Lhasa

The “Valley of Prayer Flags” near Pabongkha Monastery, north of Lhasa

A local Tibetan pilgrim offers wind horse prayers to a cairn at the top of a mountain pass near Lhasa

A local Tibetan pilgrim offers wind horse prayers to a cairn at the top of a mountain pass near Lhasa

A pilgrim disappears into a cloud of incense near Tashi Choling Hermitage, north of Lhasa

A pilgrim disappears into a cloud of incense near Tashi Choling Hermitage, north of Lhasa

Anonymous asked: Dear "Kia Ora" -- Time has come to tell you, that I enjoy your photos immensely and want to thank you for your work. I am one of the founders of the group WOW-tft Women of the World teaming for Tibet and I share your site and photos as often as I can. - Thank you. be careful, take care and have a continued lovely stay. Best wishes from Lise in Copenhagen.

Hi there!

Thanks so much for your lovely words, it’s so encouraging to hear when people are enjoying my photos and stories. It sounds like you’re doing good work with your group. 

All the best, 

Becky

Incense and rainclouds create atmosphere around Pabongkha Monastery, near Lhasa 

Evening on Ramoche Street in central Lhasa:

Last year this street was also a night market, but all of the goods were being sold by local Tibetans. These days the local Tibetans have been moved into the big newly built Barkhor Supermarket just a few blocks down the street, so that they don’t have to put up with the cold and the weather any more to make a living. 

Now the majority of sellers on Ramoche Street are Han Chinese - either tourists just here for the season or young residents of Lhasa - which makes the street more popular with Chinese tourists, but also gives a very different atmosphere to the night market. Walking around here now I feel like I could be anywhere in China. 

A shop front in the Barkhor area in Lhasa, 2014

A shop front in the Barkhor area in Lhasa, 2014

A street scene in Lhasa, near the Barkhor, 2014

A street scene in Lhasa, near the Barkhor, 2014

Monks chant and offer barley and butter to the Buddha during a festival at Ganden Monastery, near Lhasa. 

Monks chant and offer barley and butter to the Buddha during a festival at Ganden Monastery, near Lhasa. 

A couple of young Tibetan girls dance in the rain at Ganden Monastery, hoping for donations from passing pilgrims. 

A couple of young Tibetan girls dance in the rain at Ganden Monastery, hoping for donations from passing pilgrims. 

Today marks one year since I arrived in Tibet!

It’s been a great ride so far - I arrived knowing nothing of the Tibetan language, and having no friends and no clue about what life here might be like … Now I’ve got a wonderful group of friends, I’ve explored the city of Lhasa inside-out, and I feel confident in my growing Tibetan language skills. 

I’m excited to see what the coming year has to offer! 

The summit of the Northern Lhasa Valley mountains are decorated in colour with new prayer flags and lung-da (wind horses) left as offerings from pilgrims

The summit of the Northern Lhasa Valley mountains are decorated in colour with new prayer flags and lung-da (wind horses) left as offerings from pilgrims

Freshly printed scriptures hang to dry off their wooden blocks, in Ganden Monastery