20.08.2010 - 20.08.2010 24 °C
We woke at 6:45am just as the sun was rising over the mountains, not a bad way to start the day.
The drunken feeling and shortness of breath has gone. Sarah had no real symptoms at all. The only thing that’s bothering us both, and the whole group for that matter, is the hunger. As your body races to produce more oxygen carrying red blood cells your metabolism speeds up massively; an hour after a meal, we’re all starving hungry again. As a precaution I had two breakfasts.
At 10:00am we headed down to the Labrang Monastery, a huge complex where 3,500 Buddhist monks live worship and study.
Our guide, Sonan, a young English-speaking monk, led us through the maze of buildings. The first temple we came to was the medicine-teaching temple, where monks would study for 15 years before being qualified to administer herbal medicines to the local monks and villagers. As Sonan explained the teaching practices I thought about Sarah’s medical training and how different it was from that of the Labrang monks; two completely different methods of trying to reach the same goal – healing people.
Sonan left and we wondered around the monastery grounds. We came across a courtyard full of monks and decided to sit and watch for a while. The monks were sat on huge steps leading up to the temple. At the back stood monks in full ceremonial dress; huge capes, under which they had layers of animal skin. But it was their headgear that was the most impressive; yellow/gold hats with a tall central plume.
Monks on the roof sounded seashell horns to announce the beginning of the ceremony. All the other monks removed their shoes and lead the way inside. Then the pilgrims, who had travelled from the surrounding area, bowed to the floor in honour then followed them into the building. It was an amazing sight to see, we just sat and watched. I’d challenge anyone witnessing this not to feel spiritual.
The hunger kicked in again and by 11:45am we were ready for lunch. We went to the roof top restaurant next to our hotel and by 12:30 one by one, the whole group had joined us. We feasted on Yak meat dumplings and rice, and didn’t leave the restaurant until 1:30pm.
We’d satisfied the hunger, for now anyway, so now to satisfy another altitude side effect, exhaustion. The clouds dropped and the rain came in, we had a great idea, an afternoon nap.
Sarah joined Nicola and Colleen in a yoga session run by Allie; I went out in the rain on the hunt for food.