Shangri-La: Tibet Within the China border

Hello friends, I made it all the way from Kunming to Tokyo in one piece! I’ve been in Tokyo for 3 days and now I am traveling with a very nice French girl named Anne. We decided to visit an island called Oshima Island off the West coast of Honshu. I’ll let you know more about my Japan travels in a moment, first I must finish my tales of China.

Shangri-La – Tibet within the China border 

So, where was I? Oh yes, Colleen and I had just caught our bus to Sangari-La. I thought the sights from Tiger Leaping Gorge were breathtaking, well the mountains we were passing by on the bus were 10X better. Imagine. We were above the clouds. We could see all the peaks of the Himalayas in the distance. All the pictures I took didn’t give it justice.

We spent the whole 3 hours talking to our new German friends behind us. Their names were Theresa, Simon, Julian, and Kai. We decided to stick together and find a hostel. After we got a room and dropped off our bags, we explored the town for some good ‘ole Tibetan cuisine. On route, we found the center of the town and there were locals dancing. I saw some other foreigners dancing with them so I jumped in as well! Our new friends jumped in after me and we had a blast. I learned the locals dance every day at 7pm.Town Square. You can see the traditional Tibetan headdresses the women wear.

One of the streets off the main square.

We had a typical Tibetan meal: yak meat, potato, yak butter tea, eggplant, and mushroom. Even 3 weeks later, I remember the dinner fondly. Especially, the mushrooms…. yum. That night, I spent most of it talking to Simon, Julian, and Kai. We talked about politics and education. It was great to hear about German politics. Now I am up to date. They also had lots of questions about Obama and our economy. Then, I went to bed.

I slept like a baby (I have been sleeping soooooo well in China. The beds are really hard and I sleep much better on stiff mattresses.) We woke up and got directions from Colleen’s friend Jonathan to see a monastery in the outskirts of Shangri-La. Jon gave us some funny directions. We took a bus to the last stop, which was in the middle of nowhere. He then said to follow a small alley on the left side of the road until we could see a white house in the distance. We walked by small homes and a shrine. By the time we were walking beside yaks and cows, then we could see the monastery in the far distance and the white house was to the right of it. We went onward through the Tibetan countryside.We found the white house, look!
Tibetan horses enjoying the beautiful day
A yak grazing and you can see how farmers dry their hay in the background.
We hiked up to the house and here was the view

Jon said we had to go behind the white house to find a dirt path leading to the small village bordering the monastery. So, we did and found ourselves in a very quiet town. At first it was a bit creepy because there was no one around. Only the sound of music on a speaker. We were worried we went the wrong way because we could not see the monastery anymore. Colleen and Julian went inside a home to ask for directions, but didn’t come out for a long while. During the time I was playing with some local boys. They were biking around, trying to run me over, and I was trying to avoid them (which I successfully did, thank you very much).

While I was having fun, Colleen and Julian got invited to a Tibetan Birthday Party! We were all invited inside and they fed us dumplings, butter yak tea, pastries, and other goodies, They were so sweet. We were even invited to have tea with the head of the household. A honor in that society. Eventually, we left, but we wrote a Thank You/Happy Birthday card for the birthday boy.
A relative having a smoke. Look at his cool Tibetan garb.

Jon told us to walk behind the monastery to find a hole in the wall, so that we didn’t have to pay the 80 kuai. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that was the main goal. That is why we took the long way to get there, so we didn’t have to pay.) We found the hole and ended up in the middle of a beautiful Buddhist monastery.  Just wow. There were beautiful yellows, reds, blues, and greens. Lots of paintings and patterns. We’re walking around the monastery to find the hole. Those are Himalayan peaks in the distance.

We’re walking the sacred path around the monastery. Kai is leading the way.

I walked around the whole monastery and saw monks praying and old paintings of Shiva and Buhdda. My favorite part was the bells. On every corner of the monastery roof, there were bells. Large bells. small bells. animal shaped bells. So many bells! All of them ringing to the wind. I loved the sound so much. When I got to the top floor I stood for at least 5 minutes with my eyes closed, just listening. Listening to the bells. I ended up buying a little bell that I put on my pack. It jingles whenever I set it down. It reminds me of Tibet. <3The windows. I like the colors of the curtains (and yes, that is my finger on the right side. my bad).
Shiva. There were beautiful drawings inside the monastery.

We had to leave to catch our bus to Lijiang-Lugu Lake. Our German friends had to go to Kunming to catch their flight to their cities. It was a sad to say goodbye.

Colleen, Jason, and I went to Lijiang and found a hostel to spend the night. We had to catch our bus to Lugu at 8:30 am. Jason was sweet enough to wake up early to say goodbye. He was a bundle of Korean sunshine and I will miss his ridiculously sweet smiles.

Much love,

-Molly

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