Monday, September 24, 2007

So we like jumping on giant mushrooms...what are ya gonna do about it?

Xiahe Day 2

8am Breakfast
9-12 Grasslands
12-1:45 Lunch
2-3:30 Free Time
3:30-5 Burial/Cremation Visit/Hike
5 -> Free Time

The grasslands hike was absolutely beautiful. I took soooo many pictures. All the hills were covered in wildflowers, mostly these wicked pretty blue ones, although purple ones appeared near the top. It was pretty difficult to climb, mostly because of the altitude, but it as most definitely worth it.

At the top of the first ridge we climbed was a Tibetan prayer flag set. Each of the flags represents a different family. On the next ridge there was a set of huge arrows. Our tour guide did explain the arrows to us, although I didn't really underestand much except that during some holiday Tibetan men carry arrows up the mountain and drive them in while for 15 days the women can only eat one meal per day before sunrise.

The grasslands hike ranks as one of my favorite activities on the trip (along with tianshan and the camels). It was just so so so beautiful. There aren't really that many words besides breathtaking (which also applies quite literally, altitude makes things so much more fun - the oxygen pillows came out today).

For lunch I had the most delicious soup. It was mostly apple and really sweet, but it also had ginger, carrots and cucumber. Mental note: figure out how to make apple soup.

During our free time, most people took naps but I wasn't tired, so while yla slept I watched Chinese soap operas with subtitles (in characters of course) and no sound. But then, randomly, Kyla woke up, walked over to the TV, UNPLUGED it, and pluged in her cell phone. When I ave her a what-the-hell-was-that?! look, she just looked at me and said "I need to charge my phone" and went back to sleep. So I, clearly offended, decided it was probably time to go for a walk instead. I waslked about a mil up and down the street checkin stuff out. It was really hot, but nice to get out and move.

At 3:30 we met our grasslands uide again to walk up to a place where Buddhists are cremated. It was really sad. I can't imagine having my final resting place being in such a dismal lace. It wasn't particularly pretty, especilly for the are, and there was a ton of trash/litter all over the place. We also walked past a freshly burned area where our guide told us that some babies had been burned that morning. There was a skull in the pile of ashes, it was so sad. The only encouraging thing was a trail of white prayer flags leading from the site to the top of the mountain to help lead the souls to heaven.

A lo more encouraging form of burial that we learned about is called sky burial. In sky burial they pack the body under clay for 3 days. Then they break it out and cover it with ghee (yak butter), chop it into several pieces and take it to the top of the mountain. At the top they burn wood and incense for the protective smoke I talked about earlier, and then leave the body, after which eagles and hawks eat the body and in dowin so carry the soul to heaven. Besides the chopping part, I find this to be a bit alluring and very romantic.

After visiting the cremation site, a couple of us decided to climb up the neighboring ridge and we afforded a georgous panorama of the city and monastary. Labulengsi is huge! Terra and I found a small cairn on an outcropping, so we added to it - it felt appropriate.

Wen we got back everyone went on a mass shopping spree, followed by dinner on your own. I got several souveniers for people. I also got monk boots. How many people do you know that can say they have boots made for them by a tibetan monk? They look pretty ridiculous, but they're incredibly comfortable, and they have that sweet back story.

For dinner we went out for western food at this place called the Everest Cafe. My dinner was fine (and super tasty - I miss sandwiches like you wouldn't believe), but Savanah got yogurt with hair (copious amounts!) in it twice! When we complained, they informed us that it was yak hair (in yak ogurt) and therefor nothing to worry about. I can't really put into words how or why this was funny, but I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

Afterwards everyone was oing to this "bar with performances" that the tour guides reccomended to us. We were supposed to leave at 8:30, so my dinner group made it just in time. It was only just across the street, thought. The bar pretty much blew. The performances included traditional Tibetan singing, which was more painful than impresive, and Kevin had his toenail ripped off, which was vile. We had to wake up early anyways, so I left fairly soon.


No comments:

Post a Comment