Samye monastery and the little town that is connected too it is in the middle of nowhere… The bus takes a couple of hours from Lhasa and then about an hour and a half on a bumpy dusty road, passing sand dunes and wide open horizons, mountians on either side and a beautiful river running through the middle of the valley. The once tiny town is rapidly expanding in anticipation of the flood of tourists that will inevitably be coming here in the summer.
The Monastery itself is made to represent a mandala. ( a representation of the cosmos, chiefly characterized by a concentric configuration of geometric shapes, each of which contains an image of a deity or an attribute of a deity) I stole that defination..:) The four main chortens were destroyed during the Cultural revolution and the new ones look out of place with their paint so fresh they still look sticky. The surrounding chaples also bear the witness of the Cutural Revolution. The faces of the buddhas are scratched out, many of the religous murals on the walls have been scrubbed clean, but some do remain. I think there were so many of them the soilders got a little bored of their vandalism and stopped.
I end up following a young monk around the monastery, he buys me a felicity scarf from the Dali Lama (smuggled in from India) in a tiny chapel, hidden by a maze of corridors. I buy him some magic rock from a toothless and blind looking monk, I am pretty sure it is magic, or at least more important than any other common rock. Maybe not, but the monk looked impressed at the rock.. I am a complete sucker for magic rocks.
I bid farwell to my monkey friend..(tibetans call monks, monkies awww!) and head to the smoky tea house that is attached to the guesthouse for thermoses of Chang-a-mo, Yak momos and bad chinese gun flicks.
The next day is a day for climbing mountains, the sky is a translucent turquoise and fortified with yet another gallon or so chang-a-mo and yak soup nothing could stop us from reaching the top, nothing except….
As we get half way up the mountain passing carins and prayer flags the valley is unfolding with such massive expance that it is indeed breathtaking as is hiking at this altitude. Ominous clouds start to form from the north with the threat of snow coming our way. Almost at the top, there is no way of stopping and heading down.
Black clouds hover on the mountain tops distorting the peaks close by and with in moments we too are enveloped in a grey swirling mess of snow flakes and wind so ferocious the prayer flags flap in mercy..Luckily there is a little monks mountain top chapel to take refuge in.
Two monks are inside and the warmth of the shelter and the smell of butter lamps is graciously appreciated. For a long time we sit and wait out the storm. The monks continue with their chanting, a low mummur accompined by a bell and a drum. Fresh water and tsampa are offered to Buddha, and I sit in content meditation.
As the storm passes we say goodbye, and head to the top to watch the stop rage over the valley, still snowing slightly we make our way down the mountain. Sliding down the dune with the renewed energy of a little kid, practically running..
Back in the village it is time for chang-a mo with the locals..