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Published: March 22nd 2018
Day 27: Exploring Lang Mu Si
Not very big on the map, this village is about 100 miles or so to the south of Xining. We woke at 7 am to yet another glorious blue sky, and could see persons already circumnavigating a prayer-wheel house on the skyline, about half a mile away. They were walking around it at quite some pace, up to eight or nine people mostly, and every now and then one or two would peel off and head for their day’s work. Many people choose prayer beads to keep count, but there is also a sort of abacus attached to the side of the building that can be updated on each circuit.
The whole place was very quiet by 8.30 last night, although in Leisha’s place we were able to get beers and a slice of apple pie, and met an academic from Urumqi who is here to research an American missionary who was here for a decade “a hundred years ago” (we think nearer the 1930s and 40s) and who wrote about the place (John Edwards?).
We had breakfast at Leisha’s, two nice fried eggs in a
bap plus tea, then walked up to the sky burial site (3450m), about 4 km away. There had been a funeral at dawn and we met the cars coming back; there were (as expected) quite a lot of vultures still hanging about and there were a couple of fires still burning. The site was very interesting to see but of course we did not intrude beyond the open hillside. Our guide did not come the last 400 metres, so as not to give offence to the minority ethnic sensibilities, but we were assured that our own visit was quite acceptable.
Maghnus now disappeared to climb the neighbouring Red Hills and walk along their summits. Kevin and Christa toured the second monastery with our guide; once again we saw and learned a lot, and by chance we came across the Philosophy students whilst they were engaged in open disputation. Under the supervision of a senior monk, one half of the students adopt the rule of teacher whilst the others have to debate certain truths, one to one. Every time the student “proves” a point he smacks his hands together and there is great emphasis – the whole thing
Very odd, pressed wrong button; however this shows nice mountain backdrop.
was a noisy circus, particularly after the invigilating monk went away. At this point, the “students” felt free to turn up the volume” and quite cheerily went so far as to whack the “teachers” over the head with their prayer beads. All very vigorous, like an open-air Questions to the PM.
Christa and Kevin then went on a wander into the countryside, and saw a pied piper, a hare and (best of all) a marmot! Even a couple of miles is a lot at this altitude and we were about to turn back when we noticed some scarecrows and a tiny village, hidden away. Checking with Maps.Me we found that our tiny track went through the village and then looped back to Langmusi. A great discovery and our walk ended up as a much more successful venture than we had dared hope. As it happen BTW, it seems that the vultures are initially fed, the walk brought us past the sky burial site again (only a couple of vultures now).
BTW: it seems that the vultures are initially only allowed access to the bones, crushed and mixed with barley, and when these have been
Bannar at Langmusi
These beautiful banners consist of fabric applique to yak hair curtains.
consumed they have access to the rest of the remains. The family are very close by, within the enclosure, and are represented at the most critical proceedings by monks.
When we got bsack into Langmusi we met Maghnus, who had completed his climb (3664 metres), and after a bite of lunch we decided to repeat the circuit that we had just completed.
Later, back again to the same restaurant, excellent meal, two bottles of wine, total cost £20 for 3 persons. Watched four Chinese youngsters at next table, two girls and two boys…. All four were glued to their phones, mostly doing video games. No danger of inappropriate touching etc. in that department. They seem to be artists (a lot are here at present), but not of the Rive Gauche school it would appear. Home now to our rather amazing beds, totally as flat and unforgiving as a marble floor – we have only now learned that Chinese people like a “firm” bed. We are up for anything, but even in the Boy Scouts we had a “hip hole”! Anyway, clean, warm – what more do you need?
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