Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Day Full of Spirit and Monasteries

Today was our second day on an epic overland journey from Lhasa to Nepal.  In the morning, we visited the local Gyantse Kumbun Monastery.  We entered the monastery through a row of flowers and prayer wheels.  To the left of us was a huge stupa that one could enter and climb to the top.  To the right, was a complex of monastery buildings decorated with golden ornamentation.  The monastery was not open yet, so we decided to hit the stupa first.  Inside the stupa were rooms with statues of the Buddha.  On the top of the stupa was a circular walk way looking out over the town.  We climbed down the stupa and found the monastery open.  The monastery was dark and smoky from the burning of incense.  The air was full of the rich smell of yak butter candles burning.  I was impressed by the stunningly beautiful Buddha statues and the peaceful monks.  

From Gyantse, we drove for several hours through rolling hills and desolate landscape until we crossed a 5,200 meter high pass, turned a corner and saw a beautiful site.  In the distance was a tall snow covered peak, Mt. Everest.  The weather was amazing and there were no clouds covering the summit.  We drove for another 30 minutes until we reached the town of Shegar where we would spend the night.      
Our First View of Mt. Everst
Before we reached the hotel, we still had one more adventure.  We took a short walk up to a local monastery sitting on a knife edge ridge over looking the town of Shegar.  On our way up the mountain, we passed traditional houses and prayer wheels.  On arrival at the monastery, we saw monks playing a dice game outside of the monastery.  We were curious to learn more.  We found out that monks had just completed one month and fifteen days of continuous prayer.  Our guide, Tsewang, told us that they were celebrating the completion of their meditation.  The monks invited me to join in the game.  The game involved slamming a wooden bowel with dice down on a yak skin pad.  I played but did not understand the rules.

Inside the monastery, I was standing in front of a massive Buddha statue, when taking off my prayer beads they snapped into many pieces and fell to the ground.  We all thought this was very auspicious.  A monk placed the beads on the alter and told me that I was blessed by Buddha.  We finished touring the monastery and then headed back down the hill. On the walk down, I had a big group of Tibetan children following me and laughing and running.  They were super nice, and I even taught them some English words. 

We arrived at the hotel to soft beds and a short night’s rest.  In the morning, we will wake at five o’clock to see sunrise over Mt. Everest.  I am excited to visit Everest Base Camp tomorrow and complete another long day of the journey.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!                  

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