10.09.2009 - 15.09.2009 15 °C
There are no direct buses from Zhongdian to Litang. The bus goes to Xiang Sheng, a small village somewhere in the middle and from there you have to find your way by yourself, there are no more public transports. In Xiang Sheng I found some other people that wanted to go to Litang (foreigners and Chinese), so we shared the cost of hiring a guy who drove us there in his minibus. Here are some pictures from the journey:
These pictures are taken between Zhongdian and Xiang Sheng.
This is the part between Xiang Sheng and Litang. The overnight in Xiang Sheng was quite special, we (some other travellers and me) slept in a Tibetan house, whose interior was completely decorated with ornaments, sculptures, arabesques and paintings. Very colorful.
Arrival in Litang. I am back in Tibetan Buddhist country. Although not in Tibet, all the area along the border is inhabited by Tibetan people and it used to be part of a Tibetan province. There is not much in this small town, except a big monastery:
The Chöde Monastery
Next to the main prayer hall there are two big halls with huge Buddhas inside that are being renovated/rebuilt.
This is a view of the Tibetan village in Litang seen from the monastery.
The Tibetans plaster their walls with Yak dung to make it dry (I guess you know when it's dry when it falls off the wall) and use it then to fuel their fires (there's not much wood around). The second picture is of a typical house. It's always a mix of wood and rock/plaster.
Inside the monastery:
There are two schools attached to the monastery. One is for children, the other for young adults. The first picture shows a young monk learning mantras in the primary school. In the second picture and the movie you can see monks debating. They form small groups and teach each other about the books they have read by debating about specific subjects.
They play these big horns at times during the pujas. You can here them all over town. Fortunately they only play them during the afternoon pujas, not in the morning (or I slept too deeply to be woken up).
The monastery kitchen. The big pots are big enough to cater for 3000 monks! Since there's only about half that number now they only use the medium-sized pots.
There's always a friendly monk ready to guide you around and show you the sights.
These are a bunch of Israelis with whom I wanted to go watch a sky burial. The dead Tibetans give their body as food to vultures as a final act of generosity towards fellow living creatures. Unfortunately the lama who should have conducted the ceremony was sick this day, so nobody showed up (except the vultures who were probably more disappointed than we were).
For all their advanced spirituality and religion, the Tibetans have not yet learned how to handle trash. All the Tibetan places I have been to are dumps! It's horrible, just as bad as India! Seriously, I am starting to side with the Chinese who do a much better job of collecting trash and I think there is a need for more police in Tibetan places. Then again the "Patriotic Reeducation Sessions" the Chinese government gave the Tibetans probably had a different focus. A pity.