Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Never, ever eat a…

chocolate bar that has a pigeon on the wrapper! No ‘I’ve got a golden ticket’ after taking a bite of that thing. It had to be made with pigeon milk.

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We are off to trek tomorrow with Windhorse treks! Be back in a few days with more pictures.

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August 30, 2007 Posted by | China, Tibet, Travel | 2 Comments

Ganden Monastery

Francie and I just got back from Ganden Monastery where we had a blast. We initially went up there to acclimate to the 4600 meter (15,000 feet) altitude but the koras (pilgrimage trail) and Monastery were fun and impressive.

The first day we hiked the ‘high’ and ‘low’ koras to help acclimate and the second day I went through the monastery.

Ganden from atop the ‘high’ kora.
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View from that 15,000 foot mountain top.
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Here is Francie getting closer and closer to the yaks to take photos. One day they are going to hop up and bite her hand! Oh wait, that already happened with a dog in Burma. Actually, the yaks are pretty harmless…

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and closer…
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and closer!
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Here is the window of a building along the kora and a Buddha painting on one of the walls.
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Finally, I tired of Francie’s antics and put her to work!
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The Ganden Monastery is a working Monastery meaning that monks live and study there and do, you know, monk stuff. The Ganden Monastery hasn’t fared too well under Communist China. It housed a somewhat political order of Tibetian Buddhists and the Red Guard shelled the whole place during the Cultural Revolution. It appears to have also struggled after a riot/revolt that occurred when China banned the picture of the current Dalai Lama…

Here are some pictures of the outsides of the buildings.

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Most of the structures have large rooms where the monks use to…well, I guess sit and debate. Maybe they liked to sit down a lot because at 15,000 feet you can’t play frisbee for too long. The Monastery use to house 2000 monks-I bet they are around 250 now.

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Not all areas were lit…but I ain’t afraid of the dark.
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Here are some pictures of murals on the walls. These types of murals are everywhere in Tibet.

Scary mural in the dark!
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Happy mural in the light!
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The Monastery also has a kind of printing press that they use to stamp prayer flags. Here are one of the shelves of stamps and some stamped pages as well.

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This guy is restoring Buddha! Well, working on some of the statues anyway.

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Here are the ‘basic’ rooms we are staying at–note random donkey on the left.

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And some non-monks who worked there and made really, really terrible food.

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For all you travelers out there…I really recommend Ganden!

August 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is probably the most recognizable place in Tibet–outside of Mt. Everest anyway. The Potala Palace has been the residence of the Dalai Lamas since 1648. The current Dalai Lama fled Chinese forces in 1959 during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Somebody get me a wide angle lens!
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The structure is very magnificent and is one of the first things you see as you approach Lhasa. It is divided into the White Palace (built by the fifth Dalai Lama) and the Red Palace (built around 1690). The Potala Palace is at an altitude of about 12,000 feet.

Unlike the Jokhang, the Potala Palace is more like a museum than an active religious site. There are many, many rooms thoughout the mazelike palace with shelves of Tibetian books, Buddhist shrines, Gold tombs of previous Dalai Lamas etc. etc. Overall, its pretty rad.

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No pictures are allowed inside the Palace so here are more of the cool architecture.

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August 30, 2007 Posted by | China, Tibet, Travel | 1 Comment

The Jokhang

The Jokhang is the most famous religious site in Tibet. We have held off on posting about our experience there because you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the temple and it is hard to describe–probably even with photos.

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The outside of the Jokhang looks relatively simple with lots of windows. Of course, there are also the people prostrating out front and clouds of incense in the air which help clue you into its importance. In addition, there is a small building that holds hundreds of tea lights that, we believe, are burning a kind of yak butter.

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The simple building creates a really deceptive experience because, in all honesty, The Jokhang is the most spiritual place I have ever been in before. It would be like if the Vatican was inside a large apartment complex. You just wouldn’t expect what you were about to encounter.

Inside it is crowded with lots of small chapels and hundreds of people waiting to get into each one. Of course, the Jowo Shakyamuni statue is there which is suppose to be a true image of the supreme Buddha and the reason why the Jokhang is so important to Tibetian Buddhists.

Yep…there just aren’t words to describe the chapel of Jowo Shakyamuni–monks chanting and praying in corners, people lined up to provide offerings of money and artifacts, incense everywhere, candles everywhere…it was really ‘off the hook’. Francie and I are planning to go back the day before we leave Tibet. I just have to figure out a way to really capture that room in my memory forever.

August 30, 2007 Posted by | China, Tibet, Travel | Leave a comment