Wednesday, 23 April 2014

... Crouch With Tigers, Hide With Dragons: Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

Sakya, the base of the once politically powerful Sakya sect (red hat) of Tibetan Buddhism, took about 3.5hrs to reach from Shigatse. That is what with the usual check points and some twisty roads. After some lunch and a much needed ginger honey lemon tea, there was a short walk to the monastery which is situated in the town.

The huge fortified walls, Mongolian in style, are testament to the turbulent past of the region. It was beautiful inside with a lot of rare artifacts. There were no other tourists either and the Monks seemed a lot more relaxed, may be as a result of this? Still there were a lot of places inside where you couldn't take photos.

A hike up through the older part of town and up the mountainside afforded some lovely and serene views. It was also up here where the Sakya Nunnery is situated. Upon arrival there were no other visitors but the Nuns made us feel very welcome.

"Lie down, rest, go to sleep", joked one in Tibetan. Did this mean I'd have to shave my head? The iPhone of another rang and she cheekily answered "Hello" in English causing us all to laugh. They happily posed for photos and let us take shots within the small chapel.

The nice thing about that is we never asked, they simply offered off the bat. It was worth the small donation I made after the fact. These ladies were absolute class. It was nice to sit there and just take it all in. One Nun was making yak butter candles including the wick. Another was preparing to run into town to pick up stuff from the store. It was all very fascinating.

I'm not sure if the hotel was the only one in town although you kind of got the feeling you were in a Western movie... Tibetan style. If there be such a thing. The hotel restaurant did excellent veggie soups and freshly made roti. I got to watch, or should that read "forced to watch"?, a Tibetan pop star play air guitar, stretch his arms out a lot and sit under prayer flags whilst I practically sat on what I can only assume is the only heater in the hotel. The highlight had to be some old Kung Fu movie with English subtitles. I lost the plot within the first 5 minutes but that's even better because then you can dub it with your own lines! You had to be there. Basically the bad guy died suddenly at the end in some overly acted death involving loss of at least one body part and the movie abruptly ended. Isn't that usually the way?

The hotel was pretty basic but more than ok. Well, except for the fact there was no hot water unless you boiled the kettle. It wasn't even tepid. Think more Everest glacial temperatures. "Oh there's 24hr hot water today" I was told. I tried to remember this as I hand washed some clothes in the sink and lost all dexterity in my hands. I wondered if this is what the start of frostbite feels like. As you can imagine there'll be no showering in the morning, the wet wipe is going to be my friend!

"Well at least I can't see my breath in the room"

May be this is just all training for Rongbuk and Everest Base Camp?

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