Deciding at midnight that we would take the detour to Shannan, we asked around and found out the bus departs “some time before 730am”….well that’s very accurate. Waking up at 5:30am, we made it out the door by 6 and arrived at the bus stop at 6:15am. Problem was, nothing was open and there was nothing to eat, and we were super tired so we fell asleep pretty quickly. By 7:45am, the bus finally started but didn’t stop us from continuing our nap time.
We arrived at Samye, a neat little monastery town with everything owned by the monastery, but moved on to another bus to take us up to Qingpu Self-Study Area (). The Qingpu area is nested within the mountains with a spectacular view overlooking the Yarlung Tsampo river, with practitioners carving out small caves where they’d stay for any period of time from 3-weeks to 3-years! The interesting part is that, most of the people on the bus are NOT tourists, but rather local Tibetans paying homage to the practitioners studying in solitary caves. The biggest reason why this area is famous is because it is said that Guru Rinpoche achieved buddhahood in a cave at the very top of the mountain.
Due to another allergy-attack, we didn’t make it all the way up to the mountain, but visited several other relics left behind by other respected boddhisattvas. The neatest one was the practice cave of 马头明王, which was ‘heavily guarded’ by three kind nuns. After visiting the cave, we walked out and they were sitting there, eating steamed potatoes and offered us a few! We sat down, ate some potatoes as we tried to communicate with their Tibetan while we spoke Mandarin. After sharing a few laughs (about what, we’re not sure), and being invited to stay with them for the evening, we left with a small token gift from the nuns.
Back down the foothills of Samye town, we met two other travelers whom we dined with. Both were our age, One was a girl who actually had a son that was 9years old, and another was a fellow from Beijing, who declared himself to have a strong Buddhist-sense and talked nonstop about his miraculous stories relating to Buddhism. After a while, we phased out and stopped giving a fck. After dinner though, we trekked together through Samye monastery. Without much light as the sun sets rather quickly, and we were soon spotted by nothing but moonlight. On our way out though, our friend from Beijing noticed something interesting: As we made our way towards the exist, resting in the skies right above the main temple was a ‘dragon’! It was pretty cool, but it was made less impressive by the fellow’s constant mention of supernatural-powers.
Finally saying goodbye, we made our way back to the hotel. We stayed at the Samye Monastery Hotel, in a 4-person dorm, as we’re used to staying in dorms to save a few bucks. When we got back to our room, we were greeted by two Tibetan ladies who were probably here to pay homage to Qingpu and Samye. Problem is, their long journey here can be felt in the air by the strong odour exerted by their weary feet….. They also had this strange habit of fuming their blankets with incense. We got over the air of the room and snuggled into the amazing comforts of our Feathered Friends bags, but as we started to doze off into the night, our neighbours started to do their evening prayers!! They probably went on for about an hour and finally resting at 11pm…. before waking up at 6am before the sun came up and started talking LOUDLY for about 3hrs until 9am. Uhhhhh, oh well. Time for us to wake up =P