Rained o/n, a doona snuggle down night, brr…cold morning, headed for French bakery we’d spied evening before. Explored Old Town, narrow lanes and buildings attractive, abundant strings of prayer flags forming overhead canopy, cobblestones slippery - so worn. Photographed an early morning photo-shoot, be-ribboned and jeweled models in stunning fur-trimmed costumes.
Tibetan language and tone more musical than the usual Chinese shouting. Climbed steps to "tiny temple" in town, bright frescoes in Tao/Hindu style. Joined several people in unison to push magnificent 2-3 story gold prayer wheel above the town. Would have liked to know the stories behind the carving/stamping of the individual figures and symbols on the wheel. Density of housing more obvious in the views from the top.
Peeked into Red Guard museum in the square below, and it's "showcase of propaganda selling unification to the minorities". Love the fact that Chinese/Tibetans love their life outdoors. Saw another Indian Hill Mynah in a cage (common bird? cute? edible? pest?).
Lunched on Tibetan fare (but NOT what Cheryl had!!!!) before heading into stalls with amazing wares that GirlRob would have loved to take home. She bargained down a turquoise and red coral prayer wheel, but sadly couldn't get the calculator to show a rational price on a similarly decorated teapot and (reluctantly)(very reluctantly) left it behind…
|We didn't see any prostrate pilgrims on road...|
|Not what Wanderoos would have ordered for lunch...|
Took bus to Sumtsenling Buddhist monastery on hill 5km out of town - an entertaining boy with cute haircut sitting behind us. Passed tethered white yak, then stalls with meat hanging with long hairy tails for sale (hopefully well cleaned before use???)
The monastery was truly beautiful, gold painted spires and statues and up-turned rooflines of gilded copper shining in sun, banners fluttering in crisp fresh air, all backed by bright blue sky. Climbed 146 stairs to top, marveling at layered buildings on every level, and enormous banners. Not sure why some bells and statues were wrapped, including guardian lion dogs with red cloth covering their eyes. Maroon-robed monks of all ages went about their affairs including buying takeaway food from vendors, talking on cell phones, giving individual blessings (for a fee). Others chanted in the high ceilinged basilicas indoors, in long rows with their heads bowed under brightly decorated silk hangings, in smoke from yak fat lamps. Watched people throwing up cloth offerings as high onto 8ft gilded Buddha statue as possible.
Watched Zhongdian women re-wrap their bright head scarves - first placing on an open-crowned plush fur-trimmed headpiece, crossing hair braids at back before pulling up over each side of it to meet in the front (couldn't see how the hair was secured), then a fringed scarf rolled in sausage formed an outside ring, with another final scarf placed over top of all, tied at back and tucking up ends.
Home in time to change and join locals dancing in the Square (Jude won the prize for most enthusiastic!). Dined at Tibetan restaurant on the hill at the end of the cobblestones, run by Frenchman. So pretty with golden lanterns. Ate fried vegetable balls and yak hot pot, meat so tender having been cooked with hot stone in alfoil.