Heading out to the lama temple after breakfast, we got a ride with his ‘friend’. Again, not sure what to expect we hopped onto their car with a sense of adventure, and a bit of skepticism about what’s to come. Then, the music comes on and it’s the familiar sound of melodic Tibetan chants. At that moment, it hit me that, it would make an awesome intro to some sort of Metallica-type song! Then, before I could share my thoughts, *cue hard guitar riffs*, Tibetan-Metallica starts playing!!! This was a start to an adventurous day…
We arrived at the friendly-lama’s monastery, a neat little place with a square row of houses centred around a large field. Inside, it was a simple two-story building with very simple furnishings. The only room that’s furnished was the bedroom, and like any other single guy living in a ‘dorm’, with empty coke bottles lying around and food wrappers everywhere. The bedroom, in the usual Tibetan manner, has two beds on opposite sides of the room, with a table and stove bisecting the room. Continuing with his nice-guy style, he offered us almost everything available in his pantry…which was hot water, and a bottle of white-liquid inside a Fanta bottle….. He explained that this was “good stuff”, and was quick to empty its contents into a suspicious bowl, and offered one to his new favorite friend… While I quickly used my wits, pulled out the bottle of juice he bought us yesterday and said I prefer juice. We couldn’t refuse, so in the end Jiajia tasted its contents, and it turns out to be milk, except it definitely didn’t taste right, and had bits of chunks in it…. EEWWW. The grossest part, I don’t know how she did it, but she drank the whole bowl =P
He took us on a tour around his monastery, and paid a visit to the headmaster, 登真然沙金刚上师. I mean, anyone with a name that long gots to be pretty awesome. It turns out, the monastery had a lot of activities coming up and everyone was busy preparing for it, and we couldn’t help but watch them build little towers with dough and butter! One thing that’s interesting about Tibetans is that, they seem to use yak butter for everrrrrrrything! Food, prayer offerings, decoration, lamps and even cat food!
The lama promised us that there was a car out to our destination the next day, but after a while we realized that if we stuck around much longer we’d sorta get in their way since they’re busy preparing for their rituals, but also we’d be bored out of our minds! The language barrier, the food barrier, the nowhere-to-fucking-sleep barrier, all made us sorta think we should GTFO. The other big problem was that suddenly there was NO PHONE CONNECTION inside the monastery, and our family would be pretty worried something would’ve happened to us. So we tried to dismiss ourselves, and oh mannnn the friendly-lama suddenly became upset-lama!! He really couldn’t hold us back, so he helped us with our bags and stood on the side of the road to hitchhike with us! Sitting on the side of the road for over an hour, only 7 vehicles came by and 6 of those were construction trucks!
After waiting for so long, the only vehicle that stopped for us was a truck that was shipping construction materials up into the mountains and not to our destination, but in the end we had no choice so we hopped on! The truck seats 5 people, with 3 workers and 2 of us. In the front of the car was a few bottles of coke and a carton of smokes….! The two guys in the front chatted amongst themselves, but the guy that sat in the back with us had this quiet demeanor… If anyone has ever watched those old school HK triad movies, this guy totally fits the bill of the cold-blooded 越南仔 that’d kill without thought….. We slowly inched up the mountain side, enjoying the scenery before the clouds came in and started pouring rain!! Weather in mountain ranges are really hard to predict… Driving in the rain for a few minutes, we suddenly see a bunch of workers in front of us running towards the truck, before raiding the truck and squeezing about 5 more people into the truck! So in the end we had 6 people in the back of the truck, which was the size of a Honda Civic!?!? One thing that I wouldn’t forget though, was that even though they were working some pretty hazardous and rough conditions, they were all laughing, smiling and extremely friendly to us….
When we got to the truck stop, it was pouring rain and we’re at 4800m above sea level in the middle of nowhere… We were getting ready to ask them if we can stay the night in their worker tents! Fortunately for us, an SUV drove by as we were unloading our bags from the truck and we got another ride without having to stand in the pouring rain! Along the way, we passed by a lake (新路海) that made us wonder, why there was so much hype with 年保玉则!! This lake was a relaxing baby blue with a glacier backdrop, reflecting its frosty white top back into the water… It would definitely make a nice camping trip, but you should be prepared as this place is pretty deserted!
We safely crossed the mountain range and its wet and muddy roads. A few times, we had to get off the car to move some rocks that slide off the mountains and onto the road. The town we stayed at was a must-stop for all travellers crossing the mountain ranges, and along with all the construction going on the hotels were almost all full! We managed to find a 5-person room in the town’s cleanest, nicest hotel. And even being the cleanest and nicest, electricity was limited and there weren’t any hot water, and I’m pretty sure they don’t change their sheets! Sleeping bag to the rescue!
At night, we had two more guests staying with us… two lamas! There was an older lama in his 40s, and a younger lama in his early 30s. We later found out that the younger lama was actually the headmaster back in his monastery!! We chatted with them for a bit, and once again amazed at their friendliness.
Later in the evening, we got a phone call from the friendly-lama back at the monastery. Apparently there still wasn’t any phone signal in the monastery and he had to ride his motorbike about 40minutes in the dark along wet and bumpy mountain roads to a place with signal….JUST TO CONFIRM WE WERE OKAY! W O W. Friendly-lama is really, really, really friendly. A bit, over-friendly?