We’re travelling in four Jeeps. We can see the Samye monastery on the other side of the river as we head upstream and cross the bridge. Some pilgrims take a small boat across the river. The terrain is different: sand dunes. The Chinese are said to have harvested all the trees. Now there are short trees in long rows, trying to root into the sand. We stopped at the top of a lookout for photos. Prayer flags were blowing in the wind. A bus of tourists were standing around taking photos and bartering with the vendors. Suddenly, their tour director tells them to quickly get in the bus and they leave. Our tour directors says, “We don’t have reservations at the monastery; they don’t take any. If we don’t get there before they do, we may not have a place to sleep. We are in the lead Jeep. The bus has a half-mile head start, but we gain rapidly on them with the Toyoto Land Cruiser. The bus is swerving back and forth across the road trying to block us, but we overtake it. Dawn and I clap and applaud the driver. He laughs.
We make it first to the monastery. The guesthouse is already full. But our our director gets two large rooms. The room for the men is typically reserved for visiting lamas and has good vibes, Tibet quotations, colorfully painted furniture, photos of spiritual places and portraits of lamas.
Samye Monastery was built in the 8th century by King Trison Detsen. The layout of the monastery grounds is shaped after the Buddhist conception of the universe. We climbed a small hill on the edge of the monastery and could see the layout. There were photogenic yaks within the monastery grounds.
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