Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hello all! Thanks so much for all the great emails, it means a lot to hear from you! As i sat outside the great prayer hall of the snowy Laprong monastery, monks passed by shivering in their robes yet still sending warm smiles my way. One by one a group of red robes formed around me, curious to the language with which i was writing in my journal.

We sat in the snow and talked in Chinese for quite some time, taking pictures of each other and talking about the world. When i said "this was the most beautiful place i had seen in china", one of the monks quickly replied "this is not china, this is Tibet". Suddenly a bell rang and they all started to move towards one of the prayer halls, i followed...

I stood alone, the only non-monk in a great candle lit hall. A large 50 ft tall golden statue of Buddha stood in the center, surrounded by bright colored banners and images. At its base around 100 small yak butter candles glowed against the golden belly of the Buddha. 30 monks lined in the rim of the room, sitting cross legged on red mats. Slowly they chanted various Tibetan prayers in unison. Intermittently a chime would sound, followed by the low roar of a large horn and a "dong" from a huge drum. Some of the monks would look my way and smile, others just ignored me, I however was frozen in a state of total awe. As i walked back out of the hall the smell of burning incense and yak butter candles lingered for a moment then disappeared. Around the hall Tibetan woman had been repeatedly doing a full body prayer in which they stand, fall to their knees, then lye forward with their arms fully stretched forward. They had done this so many times the floor under them had been polished smooth.

Later, amidst increasing snow fall i learned that the roads along the eastern Tibetan range were completely destroyed due to land slides and avalanches...

Thus i was forced to head back and look for a train south. Ive spent over 20 hours crammed in a smoke filled cabin with chickens and pigeons in clucking in the luggage compartment by my head. Now i wait for the 1 pm train to Kunming which should be another 25 hours or so.... but from their i hear there are villages where people live entirely in the canopy of the jungle trees. I am excited to go! Thanks again for reading, i think if anything it is therapeutic for me to write this stuff. Yu-Min Lin, (Albert)

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