Published: December 9th 2007December 9th 2007
Snow in the courtyard of the hostel.
A day full of surprises
Okay so when I got up and looked out the window something didn't look quite right, so I opened the door and stepped outside into the snow. Yeah, it snowed over night, its kind of cold here.
Anyway, after the excitement of the snow wore off it was off to the monastery with a French guy I met the night before, we were to take a tour of the monastery with a monk who spoke English. The Labrang Monastery in Xiahe is ranked as one of the 6 glorious monasteries of the yellow hat sect of Buddhism and is the home the third highest ranking Lama in all of Tibetan Buddhism. During a certain period of China's history (which cannot be mentioned on the internet), a lot of the monastery was destroyed and the large prayer hall was only rebuilt and reopened in 2000.
We arrived on time, paid our money started the tour with some other Chinese people and the monk spoke in Chinese. When we asked if he could say it in English he informed us that there was no English tour this morning. Not happy Jan. But one thing about
The third doorway from the left is the entrance to the showers, it wasn't much fun walking over there in thongs.
the monks is they are respectful and very helpful. After informing the ticket office that we were after an English tour the monk in the ticket booth whipped out his moblie phone (so much for a life without material possessions), made a few calss and we were in business for this afternoon.
So we headed around the a bit of the Kora, which is the clockwise path followed by pilgrims or devout followers of buddhism and around this kora are banks of preyer wheels which should be turned as you walk along. The Labrang Monastery Kora has about 1200 prayer wheels (from memory) and as it is the largest monastery for the 6 (I think) surrounding provinces, many pilgrims come here and pay their respect, bringing offerings and prostrating themselves in front of the temples. The French guy had heard the day bvefore that their was to be a big prayer meeting at midday so we headed to the main prayer hall and waited. Monks began to arrive in their robes and their yellow hats and began to chant, waiting for the call from the conch shells to go into the hall. We watched a bit of the start
of the prayer meeting and decided that we would go and get some lucnh and then come back. We came back at about 2.30 and entered the prayer hall and sat and watched as the prayer meeting came to a close, money was handed out and chants began to get louder and we were quickly given a signal by a smiling monk that we should get out, and just in time too. Just as we exited, the monks came rushing out, probably going to the toilet after being sat down for 3 hours drinking milky tea. The experience of sitting in the prayer hall though, listening to them and being so close to them was amazing, you couldn't help but feel an energy surge inside the room and in some way inside yourself too.
Our tour of the monastery was interesting , especially learning that before that period of Chinese history there were about 4000 monks and about 80 temples, now there are only 1000 monks and also that some of the temples and documents actually survived that period of chaos.
So almost the whole day was spent meandering around the monastery, but it was a day well
spent and there is still more I would like to see.
Tonight will probably be a dinner of Tibetan noodles and maybe soem dumplings (momo - Tibetan dumplings), and of course some beers. Tomorrow, I was planning on heading to Langmusi, another Tibetan monastery town but maybe I will stay here another day, not sure.
Sorry about the delay in updating but I think it was worth the wait ;)
There are more photos below