Riding the bus from 7-3pm, our bums took a ridiculous beating once again. The craziest part was, for the most part we were driving along the national highway 317, the northern route into Tibet. The lane is ridiculously small, and weaves itself between a jagged mountain and a river without any guard rails. The scary part is, THERE IS ONCOMING TRAFFIC TOO!! Props to the drivers on this route, as there were no accidents at all the whole way through, unlike a typical day on the 401?
Arriving into the monastery, you realize the sheer size of the thing. To put into perspective, there are about 20 thousand monks/nuns living in this monastery, whereas the town itself has around 10 thousand! Little houses carpet the whole mountain side, with several large temples within. Some temples focus on Tibetan teachings, while others focus on Mandarin teachings. There is also a large mandala at the top of the mountain for people to turn their sins away and bring more fortune.
The monastery is like a bustling city, with restaurants, convenience stores and its own market. The unfortunate thing though is that the place still had this “under construction” feel to it. The homes look like they were built without much planning, and garbage was littered everywhere. For a 佛门清静地, you’d expect something different… The monastery also has a few massive pots in the middle of the road fueled by freshly chopped lumber (these guys were chopping lumber everytime I walked by), with people prepping veggies and foods there. There was also a cow eating the scraps, and almost pissed on my shoe WTF. My personal favorite was the tea maker, who would throw many BRICKS of tea, crates of milk and bags of sugar into one big pot. Anyone can come up with an empty tea pot and he’ll fill it up with some delicious sweet tea.
The washrooms were rather ‘simple, but it was pretty funny when you did your business. Being elevated about 10ft above the ‘ground level’ where the crap resides. So when you do your business, it takes a couple of seconds before hitting the ground and making a loud “thud”. Hehe, gross….
The monastery also has a very simple hostel-like room with beds for people to stay in. We stayed in one of these things and was hosted by a very welcoming nun. I don’t know why but she was extremely hospitable and was very eager to talk to us. We were also in luck, as it was first day of lectures given by the well respected MASTER – 索达杰堪布. We had some simple dinner, and went to listen to class. There was a lot of chanting of verses, but being the first time there we were rather lost. Nonetheless, it was a soothing experience! Apparently they also record these lectures, and you can watch them online! Another cool part was, once lectures were over, they were serving dinner FREE for everyone! Score.
So we spent the night in the monastery, and slept cozily in our sleeping bags. This place is crazy though, apparently it SNOWS in September, sometimes August!