Last night after 13 hours of driving we made it into the mountain village of Ganze. We stayed at the Ju Long Da Hotel. I would highly recommend it for any of you thinking of making a trip here. Not only is the food at the restaurant wonderful, and it has nightly karaoke, but I believe that it is the only hotel in town. Ask for a room on the back side, courtyard/parking lot view. The street side is very noisy. Breakfast consisted of congee, hard boiled eggs, rice flour buns (like the outside of bbq pork bao), peanuts and pickled ginger and radish. We packed up our Land Cruiser. Picked up some more water, snacks and Oreos (Steve was so happy) and headed out.
This area of Tibet is covered with wheat fields. As we climbed out of the valley we could see the Himalayan Mountain peaks still cradling ice glaciers. The descent back down into another valley was a loose dirt covered road with hair pin turns. Each time an oncoming car passed we had to stop for a minute for the dirt cloud to subside so we could see the road again and continue on. Of course this all made my life flash before my eyes as our driver attempted to PASS trucks along this particular section of road (as I am using the word road generously). In order to calm my nerves I perused thru the newly purchased snack bags for something to take my mind off of the road. Some comfort food would do the trick! So I grabbed a bag of chips. Chips are always my standby munchie choice. The bag was like an over blown pool toy due to the pressure from the altitude. When I opened the bag a strange and unfamiliar smell came out with first release of air. Weird I thought but didn’t connect the smell with anything familiar. I proceeded to have chip. Ok so now I know what the picture of fried chicken on the front of the bag was for! They were fried chicken flavored ruffles! Yuck! Have you ever had a fried chicken potato chip? Don’t. It ruins the pure, wonderful joy a potato chip brings to your senses. Guy Fieri might like them, but I am a purist. Lays are just fine with me.
Very soon after coming down the mountain we turned off the main road to a small dirt road down a small valley. The monastery was easily in view as we came around a bend in the road. The monastery sits in a small valley. Red buildings line the valley floor and scattered on one side of the hill. At the entrance of the valley is stands an obnoxious
Buddhist temple, gold roof and all, built by a Taiwanese Buddhist for his own glory. When right behind this gold encrusted self serving temple is a rundown orphanage and school where the children get sick from the water, freeze at night because there is no insulation or windows and sleep on bedding that is probably older than me.
We went straight to meet the rest of the crew and the children. The rest of the 10 crew of workers from the US, China, and Tibet have been here for a week already. We went around meeting the children in the class rooms. Some were learning English and died of embarrassment when I read their notes and asked them questions. They are cute, shy and very dirty. The monks here are teaching them but not basic hygiene. Our guest quarters are very simple and smelly. Steve says he is sleeping outside on the porch but it get to 30 degrees here at night and he doesn’t have a sleeping bag so that’s not happening. We are sharing the room with two of the other workers and Steve is very self conscience about his snoring. The altitude is also an issue. We are at 13,000 ft level. It really is hard to breath here. Simple tasks like climbing up a few stairs knocks the wind out of you and it takes a few seconds to recover. Working is going to be a challenge. Today we will rest and tomorrow we start to work. Talk to you all then.