September 22, 2008:
Lo Manthang
Yam met me around 11 am. First we went
to check on Suzi. We found her in the
Amchi's house in her element, doctoring
around. I was happy for her as this what
she was really wanted to do! Yam and I
stayed outside the city walls and walked
to the northern end of the city where the
monastery is located. Through a door in
the wall, we entered the monastery
grounds. The Monastery itself is called
the Chhoede Gompa. Attached to the
Chhoede Gompa is a Monastic School,
the Tse Chhen Shedrubling Tukling Mon
Gon Lobdra. In the courtyard, many
students of this school were mingling
about as it was lunch time.
Woke up around 6 am but stayed in bed until about 8 am. As the lodge only provided rooms but had no
dining facilities, I had to find something to eat for breakfast. I went into Lo Manthang for the first time (my
lodge and the restaurant we had dinner in the night before was located outside the city walls). Through
the only gate I entered the walled city and got promptly lost in its labyrinth of streets. I did not find a
restaurant or something similar like that and so I bought some cookies and chinese tea in a bottle (the
one I liked so much in Tibet last year). Went back to my lodge, ate my "breakfast", shaved and had a long
shower.
Yam and I first went into the museum, then into a smaller gompa containing a chorten with the grave of an
old lama. At last, we visited the main gompa, the Chhoede Gompa. It houses beautiful thangkas and
several statues of gods. While on the monastery grounds, I met Tenzin, a lama. Tenzin showed us around
during my stay in Upper Mustang, became my friend and we spend quite some time together.
Tenzin then took us to the Jhampa Gompa. It is the oldest gompa in Lo Manthang and was built in 1387.
The Jhampa gompa is divided into three stories. On the first floor, which is not accessible, there are
supposed to be lots of beautiful mandalas stored. We went into the chapel on the second floor. Inside, a
huge Buddha State dominates the room. On the walls are beautiful paintings of mandalas. On the third
floor more mandalas are covering the wall, but this floor is in a state of disrepair and many of the
mandalas here are damaged.
We finally went onto the rooftop. From here there were great views of Lo Manthang and the surrounding
area. After spending some time up there, we said good-bye to Tenzin and agreed to meet with him at 6 pm
for tea. Yam and I then went for lunch at the coffeeshop.
The owner of the coffeeshop was quite pretty and spoke good English. She also works in the
restauration process of the paintings inside the monasteries, a process which had been stopped for the
season as all hands are currently needed in the fields for harvesting. Yam of course loved her, although
he always said the opposite, but he could not get enough of her the entire time we were there!! She made
us lunch, I had fried rice and freshly made french fries which were delicious. Soon Gyan and Darbir
joined us as well. After that I went to the ACAP office where I actually could check my e-mails. The
connection was slow but not that bad. No e-mail from my wife as they still had no power. Marc had
written me and let me know what was happening. Everything was fine back home.
After lunch we went to the Thupchen Gompa. It is the second oldest gompa in Lo Manthang dating back
to the early 15th century. While on our way over there, we saw Suzi and she joined us. Yam found the old
lady who had the key for the gompa. We went into it past four protector god statues. Inside the gompa
there were several big statues, including a bronze statue of Buddha and  terracotta statues of
Avolakitesvara, the Future Buddha and Guru Rinpoche. Also some nice wall paintings. This was the place
were currently a lot of restoration was going on. The entire wall on the right hand side had no paintings at
all as they were apparantly being restored at this time.
We left Thupchen and Suzi went back to the
hospital. While standing outside the gompa, we
were "picked up" by an old man. He asked us to
come to his house and to the top his roof from
where we were going to have great views of Lo
Manthang. So we followed him and indeed, there
were great views from his rooftop. Of course
there was a catch....he had an antique store in
the back of his house. So he showed us the
stuff he had, nice things. I bought a little artifact.
Made my way back to my hotel. On the way
over, I saw more tourists arriving in Lo
Manthang, many of them Germans. Then I
brought my pants, socks and a couple of shirts
to the Maya Laundry place. The lady who owns
it was not there and I gave my stuff to a not so
reliable looking guy. Well, we'll see what
happens. Supposed to be ready by
tomorrow.... Met Tenzin at the teahouse around
6 pm and had a nice conversation with him.
Afterwards we went back to the coffeeshop for dinner. Yam said that the girl was making us pizza, but
the real reason was that he wanted to go back there and do in his own words "window shopping", i.e.
checking out the girl. Anyway, when we entered the coffeeshop the old man from the afternoon and a
friend of his were sitting there and having a drink. He was real funny and we shared lots of laughter! He
probably spend all the money he made on me that day on chang! Dinner was delightful. I had a pizza with
fresh mushrooms on top and the boys had Dhal Bhat with goat meat. To each its own. Sonam, the girl,
told us some more about the restoration going on at the gompas. She also told us about daily life in Lo
Manthang and was very critical of her surroundings, saying that a woman has no freedom up here.
Finally went back to my lodge and went to bed around 9 pm.
Gompa with Chorten inside (left) and Chhoede Gompa (above)