Day 17 - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - Ganden Sumtseling Monastery; Zhongdian; Ringha Temple and Tibetan Home Visit
This morning the skies were gray, but there was no rain early. The breakfast room was very crowded so we took a walk and came back later to eat. The temperature was 50° and the humidity was 67%.
Tashi and Pang Ga came to the hotel for breakfast and they both said they were happy to be back in their home town. We talked about our itinerary for the day; the main discovery was the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery.
We drove into town and then stopped at the ticket center where we boarded a shuttle bus. Tourism has really influenced the Monastery. Cars are not allowed and many of the monks who were there studying and praying have been so distracted, they now go to more isolated and quiet settings for their meditations.
The main monastery was built in 1679 by the 5th Dalai Lama but there are many current construction projects going on. Tibet is considered the Land of God because of the thousands of Buddhist monasteries that are located in the hills.
Tibetan Monks give a lifetime commitment; “Once a monk, always a monk”. Tashi told us many tenets about his faith as we walked along the Lhamo Yantsok Lake on our journey to the monastery.
In the temples no photographs were allowed but we could take many of the outer areas of the monastery. The main temple was very crowded so we took a quick look and then went to temples that were just as ornate and beautifully decorated, but not as popular.
Tashi explained the meaning of the Wheel of Life, or the bhavacakra that is often placed outside of temples as a teaching tool to help people understand the teachings of Buddha. The colors were bright and the drawings explicit.
We spent about two hours exploring the many temples and then when it was time to leave, we rode the bus all the way back to the city to the shuttle station. Pang Ga was waiting for us and took us to the Tibetan Restaurant we tried to go to last night.
The Zhaxikadah Tibet Food Restaurant was very popular with the local people of Gyalthang. Our meal was yak meat and barley, steamed bread with yak cheese and butter, dumplings with yak meat, and greens.
When we had finished lunch we drove to the Tibetan Ringha Village where we climbed to the Ringha Temple, also called the Temple of the 5 Wisdom Buddhas, perched high on the hill. It was raining but we all made it to the top to see the thousands of fluttering prayer flags surrounding the temple.
On the way back down the hill we were able to spin the rotating prayer wheels or chokhors that line the stairs each with mantras etched on the cylinders. Hopefully, we were able to purify the negatives in our lives and stabilize our minds.
The highlight of the day was a visit to the home of the Namka Family where we were welcomed by three of the four generations of the family living in the home. We sat in their kitchen around a blazing fire and were treated to yak butter tea, steamed bread, and yak cheese.
We thanked them and all agreed that this is the reason we travel, to enjoy real families in their home settings. Vic gave the family a collage photograph of Colorado and we said goodbye at 2:15.
When we got back to the hotel we had free time which we used to post yesterday’s journal and then work on the log for today and go through many pictures of the memories of our day.
At 6:30 Pang Ga and Tashi returned to pick us up for a dinner in the Old City. We were able to walk along the old streets to see the construction and the renovations that are taking place.
We stopped at Himalaya Handicrafts to see Tashi’s shop. He has an excellent selection of Tibetan art, jewelry, paper, and clothing. Gennie bought a few things and would highly recommend his products – so much better than the street merchandise that many tourists buy.
Our next stop was dinner at Uttara Sarkar Crees’ establishment Tara’s Gallery Café and Bar. The loveliest meal we have had in China; the food was fantastic and Uttara is a delightful dinner companion.
Born in India, raised in Africa, she now runs an eco tourism projects. Uttara is the owner/manager of the company, Gyalthang Eco Travel Service Company contracted by Myths & Mountains for our adventure.
After our dinner, we took time for Vic to take a few night shots of the temples and city.
We got back to the hotel at 8:45 and then had a night cap with Duane and Joanne before coming back to finish our GarciaTrips website for the day.
Accommodations: Gyalthang Dzong Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D
Please see our Trip Evaluation -- Click Here -- A Complete Review of Myths and Mountains -- From Vietnam to China: Ethnic People of the Border -- China with Tashi Lamasang
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I have eaten frog legs but never yak. What did yak butter tea taste like?