I get out of the hotel, there is a thick curtain covering the exit door. I need an effort to move it but they need it, there is real cold outside. It’s early, I just have a day in Labrang monastery and I have to take advantage of it.
I exhale, a white and dense vapour get’s out of my mouth, it’s hard for it go up and stays suspended in the air. I move forward and go thought it. I don’t know where to go so I follow the first person I see. In my pocket I have a thermo with warm tea I’ve just prepared. I’m happy I’ve made the effort to prepare it, it warms me.
I see a stall on my left, there is a smiley woman with her face burned after years under the sun. I buy something similar to a “churro” (Spanish pastry eaten for breakfast), seems to have a thousands calories per bite, tastes good. The monastery is still in shade, the sun has not come up enough and the mountains block it. I keep moving with the people.
The pilgrims murmur while walking. Always clockwise. There are vertical wood cylinders on the outside walls, they are full of inscriptions. The pilgrims push them to roll when walking. When rolling wood brushes with the metal. There are hundreds of them and the pilgrims don’t let them rest. There are always rolls turning, squealing and murmurs.
The porch stretches. There are no monks, they are praying this time of the day. Pilgrims keep going around the monastery.
I go up a little hill, I’m on the other side of the monastery walls. I see a woman that kneels down and then prostrated on the ground totally laying down, she stands up and makes a step to the side. She kneels, prostrates touching with her forehead on the ground. She stands up and makes another side step. How long does it takes her to go around the monastery? How many times does she do it? A monk has told me that to finish his education he needs to go around a little temple building 4000 times.
The sun comes up, I get into a monastery.
The monastery of Labrang is a Tibetan monastery out of the Tibet region. It’s the second most important monastery in the world.
Visiting Tibet requires a special permit to go and the government has the Buddhist community quite controlled. It’s supposed that Labrang has some more freedom and it’s said that for that you can see the Tibetan culture better. Even thought the government stops the access to foreigners some times.
I haven’t commented the pictures, it’s the only time I’ve been unable to add something under them. I think they talk for themselves.
I’d love to have stayed here for another day walking and taking pictures but my route in China is over 4.500 kilometres and I don’t have much time. It’s the bill I have to pay for having stayed longer than planned nearly in every country I’ve been. Now I have to go a bit faster.