Friday, June 15, 2012

Further into Tibet

The morning is spent at the Rebkong Temple watching the locals doing Kora (circumambulation) of the temple and prayer wheels.  It’s a rather small monastery mostly visited on a daily basis by the locals. When we stopped and asked, several said yes you may take my picture.

Immediately across the street at the plaza were 2 older men sitting on the steps who had completed their daily Kora and were passing time.  Clearly Tibetans with their deeply tanned skin wearing felt hats.  May I take your picture?  Their sweet reply was “do as you wish”.  Lum Bum sat down and began chatting with them in Tibetan and I began to shoot. Eventually I also joined the group.  The usual questions of where are you from & how old are you were exchanged.  Then we got into their biggest question; I had nice teeth & are they real? Well the fronts are real, the backs are crowned was translated into Tibetan & like a horse being examined for sale I opened my mouth and everyone had a look see. ;-).  Lots of laughs.  Then one of the men said “I am 80 years old and been photographed by many Westerners but none have ever sat down and spoken to me.  Wow.  My next stop was a photo shop were we made a print of the 3 of us for each man.  Back to the steps, but no men.  We showed the picture to a few that lived in that little block of apartments and eventually were directed to 1 room a walk up apartment where one of the men lived. He was so happy to see us.

While these people have so much less materially than us they have so much spiritually and there is always a big warm smile. 

Back on the road as we commute North to Labrang Monestery.  My first sheep and yaks grazing. I am so fortunate the grass is green and the small ground flowers are beginning to come up.

 Our driver, Teshi is a local so he has lots of friends and connections.  When we arrive in Labrang we check into a local Tibetan hotel. It’s just wonderful with the rooms build around an indoor courtyard.  I am given a choice of 2 rooms-Western or Tibetan style, both with electricity, and a western style toilet.  No question, I want to sleep in the Tibetan style room on a carpeted, matted platform. Here is where I spent my next 2 nights.

The next 1.5 days is spent at Labrang centered around the extremely large Labrang Temple.  On the intersection of one of the entrances of the temple and the Main Street is a Tea House run by a young English speaking Tibetan couple.  Here, a mix of monks, Westerners and Travel guides float in and out using the free WiFi, drinking coffee/tea, eating, getting on then internet, speaking freely and sharing ideas.  Given how very restrictive the Chinese government is I am really surprised that an establishment like this is permitted to exist.  Would it be here if I returned next year or in a couple of years?  Or might the government take it over as they continue to Sinofi Tibet.

Carpe Diem,