Lazi, West of Shigatsu,  Tibet, China Week 130 September 22nd - 23rd 2013
We are slowly moving from "back Tibet" to "front Tibet".

Two storey buildings and slowly increasing population density.

Rolling hills around the flat valleys and fewer mountains.

Even the beginnings of grass.

We are still around 4,500m.
And a few gentle passes at around 5,000m.
Home of yaks.
And monasteries.

This is the Drasang Monastery.

A sense of moving from where mountains predominate to culture.

But there's still some lakes to pass.
From mud brick to mud brick, veneer, and "paint".
We've reached Lazi.

Our first monks.

And people carrying prayer wheels.

After eating and retreating from the crowds we headed further east and found a roadside camp.

Lazi is the junction between our G210, the road from Yecheng, and the G318 (Friendship Highway).

On the way to Shigatsu we pass through speed and  permit checks, then registration in Shigatsu. 
While wondering at the road furniture.
Traffic is remarkably well behaved in Shigatsu.

Max speed 30 km/hr.

We are approaching the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse..
About 700 monks.
Somewhere in the compound there a Chanting Hall, the stupa of the First Dalai Lama, Stupas for the fourth then fifth to ninth Panchen Lamas.

Also the world's tallest copper gilded statue of the seated Matreya. 

While gazing at the murals, and wondering where the various attractions were that we began also to wonder at the wisdom of a Chinese guide who didn't speak Tibetan and seemingly had little knowledge of the culture or history.
Bereft of any information the murals were reduced to being pretty pictures.

Though we now believe that the "Bhudda To Be" at one time took on the form of a white elephant.

No photos inside.

But couldn't help noticing the corbels.

Just an entrance way to a stupa.

Watching the Tibetan locals approach some rang the bell.

There seemed to be ritual associated with entering the building. 

Maybe to scare off  .....

A snow lion?

The black is to absorb heat. Red for religious significance. White for everyone else.

There's also a deeper symbolic meaning for colours within Bhuddism.

The black window frame wards off evil and demons, transforming hate into compassion.

Red has protective qualities, occurring on religious buildings and monks' garments. It transforms passion and attachment into the wisdom of detachment.

White is symbolic of learning, knowledge and longevity, transforming ingorance into wisdom based on reality.

Ah ha .... so that's why we have recurring white elephants like the one four photos above. !!!! Presumably nothing to do with the more familiar (to me) western meaning.

This structure is supposedly used to hang banners at festival times.

I think it is an early precursor to the phased array radar we saw at Fylingdales in the UK about 18 months ago.

Frustrated at the prohibition on photographs inside we looked in foyers and cloisters.
None of the rigid symmetry of Angkor Wat the Tibetan monasteries seem to be rabbit warrens with all sorts of interesting spaces.
Green is symbolic of balance, harmony, vigour, youth and action, transforming jealousy into the wisdom of accomplishment.

Yellow is symbolic of rootedness, renunciation and earth, transforming pride into the wisdom of sameness.

We haven't seen any saffron robed monks in Tibet.

How incongruous.

20th century space frame and traditional columns, without the transforming wisdom that at least half of them aren't required for roof support.

Not sure what the symbolic colour for simplifying complexity would be.

Perhaps its absence explains the inordinately high degree of Chinese imposed bureaucracy in Tibet!

Sorry, should have mentioned the Uni I attended had a space frame research institute.

And so, having wondered around those four main looking buildings we returned to the gate.

To find a different bus in the view.

And lo and behold, tucked away in a corner, an almost illegible map of the compound.

I'd looked, but missed it.

This was repeated on the inside walls of a restaurant near the monastery.

The wheel is a powerful weapon and symbolic of the cycle of life.

Can't quite find a good match for this version on the internet.

The restaurant had a view.
East from Shigatse the valley is increasingly fertile and occupied.


Above 4,000m.

The Shalu Monastery was founded in 1027.

Founder of the Shalu Sect was Poton Reghen Drup.

Struggling a bit with the two major schools of Buddhism and thus the sects within them.

I reverted to observing the "stage" overlooking the square inside the Shalu Monastery

The small offshoot to the monastery about a km back towards the main road was a campsite friends Rob and Clary found a couple of days earlier.

Being lazy we asked and were allowed to camp.

One of those unforgettable experiences as the two resident monks supplied us with yak butter tea and barley wine. 

No language in common (they spoke Tibetan, guide spoke Mandarin).

They entertained us with short "movies" on phone of chanting/dancing and mandala making.

Beautiful people!

Next morning there were many arrivals.

The fires were fed and the ashes used to make thumbprints on the outside of the fireplace.

Perhaps roughly the equivalent of the font of holy water at the entrance to Catholic churches.

Religions universally seem steeped in ritual and symbolism.

Gyantse,  Tibet, China Week 130 September 24th 2013

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