Day 61: Serda (色达) – August 17

In the morning, we headed up to the mountains to round the mandal with the locals. It was also a place for locals to go take a picnic with two buckets of yogurt and a bag of bread! Coming back down from the mountain top, our hospitable host tried to take us to get blessings from a 活佛, but timing didn’t work out…rather unfortunate. Honestly though, we were kinda freaked out at her enthusiasm!!! She was sincere to begin with, but sorta freaky!

We took a ride to the city of Serda. The city itself only has about 10 thousand people (half of that in the monastery!), and literally has one road going in. There’s no trade, no manufacturing, no tourism but somehow the city is extremely clean and new. When we took a stroll around town, we went into their town hall, and found their 2012 infrastructure budget posted outside. I am no urban planner, but through a combination of government and private entities, a whopping $700M RMB was invested into this small area this year!!! Putting things into perspective, this is a ridiculously small town with a ridiculously small population…!!!

Riding with us into the city were 4 teenage lamas, and we chatted up with them for a bit. So when they enter the monastery, it is like going to school, but instead of learning something like fluid dynamics or calculus, they learn how to achieve nirvana…haha cool! And every 5 days they get 1 day off, and today was their day off! The funny part is, only females were allowed into the town today so they were breaking the rules to head into town! And what for??? TO PLAY BASKETBALL!

We spent the afternoon watching them play a bit of basketball, and reminisced about stuff at a local tea shop. I don’t know how it works, but this town has a ridiculous abundance of tea shops…. The motel we’re staying in was built 3months ago. Seems like every city we’ve been at was built within the past year. So just an FYI, I’m pretty sure infrastructure investment here is going to be finished soon…. We just hope they build some better toilets.

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