Our day begins as usual but this time I skip breakfast and spend the extra time sleeping in. Around 10am we set off to tour two of the more important monasteries in Tibet. About a twenty minute drive out of town and we pay another admission fee then clear another security checkpoint which is a little different.
Our destination is located on a hillside and the checkpoint is at the bottom of the hill. Loaded up back in our mini-van we continue our drive up a steep road that is littered with trash on both sides.
Arriving at Dreprung Monastery which is the biggest Tibetan Buddhism College there is another military official who gives us a watchful eye then nods an approval. Navigating some construction area we start our now traditional “Monastery Stairmaster Workout”.
What is disappointing is to see a pool where monks once took baths almost covered in trash.
Along the path to the monastery are prayer wheels, a few of them unique because they are kept spinning with running water from the surrounding mountains. Looking skyward it is a gorgeous day as we take in the hillsides covered with prayer flags and important monuments.
Inside Dreprung we are allowed to take pictures but for a reasonable fee of RMB$15, about US$3. I find the yak butter candles interesting as I watch people feed them with offerings.
Near the scriptures there are also brass bowls of water that are used as a part of a Buddhist ceremony.
Along another wall a set of stern and discerning eyes are watching us but what I find interesting is another set of eyes that I am familiar with. From behind a glass case old George Washington is looking back at me. I guess here any currency is acceptable for an offering.
Leaving Dreprung, the former winter residence of the Dali Lama, I get a glimpse of some real old fashioned manual labor. I stand and watch as men carry huge rocks on their backs to a construction site down the hill. I sure hope they have some Aleve or at least get a good back massage at the end of the day.
Now I will just have to wait for my good luck, health and fortune to kick in.