August 23, 2011

Escape from Wuhan: Part Three


Also called Tagong in Chinese, Lhagang is a tiny little town in the middle of the grasslands. It's relatively high up: 12,100 feet or so. Walking around is fine, but if you start running you'll feel it pretty quickly.

After we settled up with Losang he rolled out of town, leaving us at the central square. It's a one street kind of town, which makes it pretty easy for touts to find you. The Tibetan woman who was sitting in the middle of the square actually runs the guest house we had already planned on staying in, Jya Drolma's. The guest house was great- they had a 6 bed room which fit most of our party, now up to 8 with the addition of a Swede we had run into previously in Chengdu. The room was incredibly decorated:

The ceiling above my bed, with a snow lion and other Tibetan motifs:

The wall, with stylized Tibetan calligraphy and painting:

The only problem was getting there. The guest house is mere feet from the central square, but our room was on the third floor. Tiny ladders led up each floor, and at that altitude a trip down to the second floor bathrooms and back can feel like a serious endeavor. Still, Jya Drolma helped us arrange everything we needed and happily made butter tea for those interested in trying it.

On one side of the square is the Khampa Cafe, where we wound up having breakfast most mornings:

The dining room at the Khampa Cafe, again incredibly decorated:

The view out of the window in the morning, over the roof of Lhagang Monastery:

Lhagang Monastery itself is pretty small compared to Labrang, but there's a nice kora around it with prayer wheels. A constant flow of Tibetans wearing their finest walked clockwise around the monastery, spinning the wheels as they go:

Also, a stupa covered with mani stones. Mani stones are pieces of rock with the Tibetan mantra (om mani padme hum) carved into them by pilgrims or artisans. You'll hear more about them tomorrow:

A hilltop above town:

The big thing to do in Lhagang is go hiking through the grassland. Pictures from our epic hike tomorrow.

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