Sunlight on an early spring day and the sound of pilgrims' footsteps wake up the city of Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.
Consistent streams of people come to circumambulate the Potala Palace, a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism.
Rigzen Drolga and Sonam, a couple in their 70s, took an early bus ride Wednesday for their daily ritual. They had noodles for breakfast in a diner at the foothill of the imposing palace.
"Old people hardly oversleep. We get up early, and coming to the palace is the most important thing to do every day," said Rigzen Drolga, the wife.
The early risers also include tourists who travel from afar. Zhang Zhongmin got up early enough to catch the first ray of light upon the golden rooftop of Potala Palace with his camera.
He and two friends arrived in Lhasa Tuesday from Shenzhen, a boomtown in south China's Guangdong Province.
"We came via the Sichuan-Tibet highway. The scenery along the road to Lhasa is beautiful. I'm a little surprised that many towns along the road have quite a lot of people," he said.
Tibet has 115 national-level top-grade tourist attractions. In 2017, over 25 million people traveled to the plateau region.
Zhang plans to drive for another day to Nyingchi to experience the peach flower blossom festival.
As the day became brighter, streets in Lhasa became crowded. The old Pargor Street is bustling with commerce.
"The weather is getting warmer. Business will be good. It'll be best in May," said Lorang, a 19 year-old who sells Buddhist statues from Nepal.
Driver Dondrup Tsering parks his SUV near Pargor Street and waits for a passenger. He became a driver for ride-hailing platform Didi last month.
"I was a taxi driver for seven years before this. It is better to work through the online platform now. I make about 300 yuan (about 47 dollars) every day," he said.
Khedrup, a courier, rides his electric scooter and wastes no time under a heavy workload. It is not yet 10:30 a.m., but Khedrup has already delivered about 100 packages. "There are so many packages today," he said.
In Dzongyab Lukhang Park, however, nobody was in a rush.
Retiree Langre comes to the park every morning.
"I dance for at least an hour every day. It is good exercise, keeping me sharp for a whole day," he said. A few hundred meters away, dozens of people performed shadowboxing exercises.
Vendor Dawa has sold pine and cypress branches at the park for several years. People buy the branches and put them in the stove for blessings.
"It is good business. My family depends on my earnings," she said.