We awoke in the morning after a sleepless night in the cockroach-infested YMCA. We went for breakfast in a local Tibetan restaurant.
After that, we drove out to Mount Kailash where we parked the bus on the side of the road and went into a field facing the mountain. It was an incredibly clear day and the mountain looked spectacular. We had a teaching and meditation in the field and then had pictures taken at a site like a huge tent where prayer flags had been hung.
Before I got onto the bus for the journey back to the hotel I had my third profound moment of the trip. I started meditating by the side of the road facing the mountain. I found myself in a complete state of harmony and bliss. I felt like a luminescent being with white light coming from all around me. I saw images/visions of creation – stone pillars coming up out of the ground to form structures (like the special effects on a movie) all surrounded by white light. Then I experienced the death of these creations with huge fireballs from the sky destroying all the buildings. It felt like I was watching civilizations and even worlds/planets being created and destroyed.
Then the sun rose on a new day and I was floating above the ground seeing grassy plains and following rivers. I was experiencing the touch of a butterfly the sound of a bird chirping, large birds floating in the sky and I could see mountain ranges in the distance. I was then laying on the bottom of a crater looking up a the sky seeing all the clouds and feeling the air around me. I could feel and see a white light all around me and a beam of light through my body connecting me to the earth and the sky. I felt totally connected to planet Earth and I experienced emotions like joy, happiness, peace, and tranquility. I knew where I was and I could hear people talking to me however I was in such a peaceful state and just focused on being in the moment. I had no idea of time just of “being” and it felt like I was watching a movie in my own head. I was plugged into the planet and I felt only peace and harmony.
After I came out of this amazing state of stillness I felt confused, dazed, emotional, and an all-over body temporary weakness when I became disconnected from the Earth. I did not want to stop the meditation and I was aware of people yelling to me from the bus that it was time to go. However, I knew that Dawa would come for me when he was ready to go. I can remember talking to Dawa while I was still meditating and I became very emotional when I eventually stopped the meditation. I could have stayed in this altered state of peace and harmony for so much longer and I was disappointed to return to the “real world”. I believe that I was experiencing the “Third eye” and “Crown chakra” and I was awakened to a complete connection with the planet Earth and the mysteries of the Universe.
We traveled back to the “nice” hotel and had dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Long drive on the bus to Mount Kailash. The scenery kept changing from long straight roads to winding mountain passes.
On one of our stops, we encountered a group of Tibetans that just seemed to come out of nowhere. We had a cultural exchange where we gave them things like combs, hairbrushes, and toothpaste and they gave us colorful Tibetan Knik Naks.
On all our long days on the bus, we developed a great rapport as a group, and we had our own “choir” at the back of the bus. Music mainly from my Ipad along with Eva’s speaker.
We ended up getting into Mount Kailash late, where we realized that there had been a “snafu” with the accommodations. The hotel that we were all supposed to stay at only had room for about half of our group, so the rest of us had to “rough it” at a YMCA full of cockroaches. This severely tested our mindfulness and staying in the present moment however, all of our fellow YMCAers survived the night and came out stronger for it, with a story to tell.
This was another long ride on the bus. As we were getting further and further away from “civilization” the facilities were becoming extremely basic. The restrooms were literally just holes in the ground that smelled ever so slightly (understatement of the year!) Don’t tell anyone, however, most of our stops were actually made in the wild as it was cleaner and less smelly to do it this way.
We stopped at a small town for lunch and to stock up on snacks for the journey. In the afternoon we were delayed for about 3 hours by roadwork, so we all stretched our legs and meditated. After 3 hours, Dawa made a decision that we needed to get moving again to maintain our schedule, and as he walked down the road to where the roadblock was, miraculously the work suddenly stopped and we were able to be on our way again.
An interesting observation was that in the middle of nowhere there would be a small town of houses that were in the process of being built. They were all empty and the suspicion was that the Chinese are building these towns along the route to cater to more Tourism in the future. It reminded me of the movie “A Field of Dreams” where it was said that “if you build it, they will come.” Another interesting detail was that all of a sudden you would see huge banks of solar panels in the middle of nowhere and seemingly miles from any towns or villages.
The hotel was pretty basic, with no electricity or hot water from 11pm to 6am. We had dinner at a local Tibetan restaurant next to the hotel.
The trip today was 180 miles in a relatively small Tibetan bus. We traveled on our bus through many mountain passes on our way to Xigaze. There were some breathtaking views of the mountains and the passes between them. We stopped off at the top of one of these passes to have our pictures taken with a Tibetan Mastiff (more like a Lion!) and A Yak for Kathryn. I bought a Tibetan turquoise ring.
We stopped off at a beautiful Tibetan lake for lunch. We saw 6 yaks being herded by one lone Tibetan. On other stops, along the way to Xigaze, we were quickly surrounded by the Tibetan people dressed I their bright clothes. Even though they were trying to sell us stuff they seemed genuinely interested in us as Westerners and human beings.
Xigaze is the second city in Tibet and is being built up by the Chinese. It would not surprise me if Xigaze becomes the biggest city in Tibet quite soon as there was almost a Las Vegas-style development going on (big hotels and wide streets). This was to be our last night in relative “comfort” for a while.! We ate dinner at the hotel.
In the morning we went to visit the Portola Palace where the Dali Lama used to live. The palace is now a museum and houses the tombs of all the Dali Lamas to date. Half of the palace is still used for government today.
Lots of steps to climb to get into the palace. We had more pictures taken with the monks, even though you are not supposed to do that. I found that it was the monks who were actually more excited to get their pictures taken! You are not allowed to take any pictures inside the museums of the Palace.
In the afternoon most of the group went to visit a Temple which I think was code to go shopping in the local market!. Jack and I stayed at the hotel for some male bonding time. Had dinner at the hotel.
Took a mid-morning flight to Lhasa. Arrived around 2 pm. The altitude of 12,000 feet impacts you immediately. You need to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. We also bought portable Oxygen canisters for the 800km bus ride to Mt. Kailash. We went to the hotel for lunch and then spent the rest of the day getting used to the altitude. Both Kathryn and I decided to take our altitude sickness pills and they seemed to have worked. Dinner at the hotel at night.
We drove to Datong airport for the flight to Xi’an. We arrived in Xi’an and then had lunch at the Hotel before a 1-hour drive to see the Terracotta Warriors. We had snacks at a Tea Room and then went to see the terracotta soldiers exhibit.
In-Pit 1 there are 6,000 Terracotta soldiers in various stages of being re-assembled. It was a breathtaking sight with the number of complete soldiers, just stunning. These were all sculptured in clay to be the exact likeness of one of the Emporers of China about 500 BC. they were built to guard his tomb which is 2 miles away and has never been opened.
We went to Pit 2 and 3 and saw 4 horses with 8-10 soldiers behind. We then walked through a museum where we saw the kneeling archer which was the only soldier that was initially found in 1 piece. All the other soldiers were smashed and the pieces left where they fell. We then walked back to the Tea Room and shared experiences to date. We then drove back to the hotel for dinner.
In the morning we went back to the monastery for morning meditation with the monks. We went back to the meditation room and the Abbott took us through a 20-minute meditation. He placed us all in specific spots and I ended up under a Sutra hanging from the ceiling. This was my second profound experience which was an amazing meditation where it felt like my hands and fingers were being pushed together and I could feel the energy flowing through and around my body in a circular motion. The Abbott was quite taken with how tall Kathryn and I were and he was very playful. He took a hard hat from a workman, gave it to me, and asked me to direct the workmen.
Then we traveled to a monastery built on the side of a cliff. It was built using narrow wooden poles hammered into holes, that were chiseled into the rock. We walked up and through the Monastery, which was quite an experience, walking on a 2-3 foot piece of wood, literally on the side of a cliff.
We then drove to Datong and went to some Grottos. These Grottos dated back to 460 AD and were built through 520 AD. For these 60 years, the Emporer used 10,000 men per day, made up of Chinese and slaves. There were a large amount of huge clay Buddhas that were sculptured with ornate carvings on the walls and roof. This reminded me of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. We then drove to the hotel for dinner.