May 19, 2009:
Pelkor Chode Monastery
After a very cold night without a heater, we started early the next morning, and as usual (I know this is getting repetitive!), I had a terrible splitting head and neck ache! But we had to stay on schedule or miss out and we preferred to suffer than miss our chance to see more sites. I popped a couple of aspirin and we headed out to Pelkor Chode Monastery, which was located very near our hotel. It is right next to the Dzong Fortress, which we did not visit. The fortress has a Anti-British Museum, but we skipped visiting the museum.
As with many of the monasteries, large prayer wheels are located the entrance to Pelkor Chode Monastery.
You can walk to the top of the Kumbum to get a bird’s eye view of Gyantse and the rich farmlands.
When we were returning to our vehicle we encountered some of the most destitute people of our journey. A Tibetan boy in filthy clothes came up to us and started to beg. We couldn’t understand a word he was saying but it was clear that he was in need. We gave the boy some money and expected him to leave but instead he continued to beg for more money and then he got down on his knees and continued to beg. This was a heartbreaking moment for us and we were in complete shock that we did not know what to do. Before we could react our guide said something to him in the Tibetan language and he took off running.
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Tashi Lhumpo Monastery
We cut our visit a little short because I was still feeling ill so we hopped back in the Landcruiser and headed towards our next destination, Shigatse to visit Tashi Lhumpo Monastery. We arrived in Shigatse around noon and had lunch at a Nepalese restaurant. It was probably the first time for both Heidi and I to have Nepalese food. The dishes we ate were very similar to Indian dishes we had eaten back home and very delicious!
Next we headed to our hotel to get some rest before our evening visit to the monastery. As usual our guide wanted to make sure that we had plenty of rest before visiting the monastery. Around 4:00 PM we headed over to the monastery.
Tashi Lhumpo Monastery was one of the few monasteries where we saw many monks. But we also saw plenty of Chinese officials and our guide says that some of the monks are Chinese spies so be very careful of who you speak to and what you say! Tibetans can be thrown in jail for talking about politics or having a photo of the Dalai Lama, so some subjects are best avoided.