I'd thought about getting up early to go take pictures of the Dzong in the morning light but I didn't wake up until it was time for breakfast and then time to go. The weird thing was that even though I got nearly ten hours of sleep I was still tired when I woke up. Today's drive wasn't two exciting we had three passes (the highest was 16,357 feet), a couple lakes (one created by the damming of the Nat-chu river, and Yamdrok-tso - a sacred lake). We stopped at Nangartse, a nondescript town, for lunch and were told not to leave the restaurant. Apparently today was the fiftieth anniversary of China taking Nepal and the police are being very strict.
About 70 kilometers from Lhasa we hit paved road. As soon as I realized that it was paved for good and not just a short stretch, I started to feel a little sad. Sad because it meant that the rest of my Tibet experience was going to be easy and that somehow killed some of the Tibetan magic for me. And sad because the journey was almost over. We still have three more nights in Lhasa, but it will be in the same place - no more traveling. As we got closer and closer to Lhasa my enthusiasm got less and less - the buildings were becoming more and more concentrated and they're all the ugly Maoist block architecture. Traffic increased, the air got hazy and the mountains vanished. As we entered Lhasa the traffic was horrendous - it looked like an ugly, overpopulated, polluted city - yuck. Even the first view of the Potala Palace didn't do much to improve my opinion - it's big, but it somehow looks fake and plastic-like from the modern mess. As we drove in to the older part of the city things started to look up - the cool architecture was back, the glimpses of the Potala Palace looked like magic, and the traffic was still terrible, but at least it was people on foot or donkey carts.
Our hotel is fairly nice - not as nice as the last two nights, but I'm glad that it's in the old part of the city. After checking in I relaxed (I was still so tired) and did my journal entry from yesterday). After an hour or so I set out to explore. Barkhor Square isn't that far away so that was where I started the explorations. The square was teeming and the temple at the end was definitely the focal point. The temple had a entrance fee and I wasn't feeling up to it so I didn't go very far inside. There are hundreds (thousands?) of stalls stretching out on radial streets from the square so I started to explore. I ended up buying another knife, and a huge chunk of turquoise before getting bored. I had dinner with Corrine at a tourist place, but the food was good. After dinner we found an internet cafe and I spent an hour reading email and just browsing - all bonus as I hadn't expected to find internet access until I got back to Katmandu.