|August 8, 2007: Ganden to Samye Trek Day Four
Herder's Camp to Samye Monastery
We got up at 7 am and had breakfast. Soon thereafter, we started our last day of hiking around 7:45
am. Thirty minutes later we reached the campsites of the other groups. Everybody said that our
campsite was much nicer and nobody understood why their guides went further down than us.
We kept following the valley which opened up
more and more. We took it easy as we knew that
our hike was coming to an end. The trail we
hiked along grew wider and wider and one could
see that motorized vehicles travelled on here
from time to time. At the bridge crossing to the
Yamalung Hermitage there was a Chinese police
jeep. They did not bother us, but apparantly
checked some of the groups behind us. At
Nyango, our hike ended. Here, the yaks and
cows were unloaded and we waited for the
townsfolk to show up with their tractors to drive
us down to Samye.
After about 2 hours, we reached our first village, the village of Changtang. Here is an excerpt from
the Lonely Planet Tibet guide: "Changtang, the first permanent village since Hepu, pops up.
Although the villagers are friendly enough, the village is infested with fierce dogs, which fortunately
are usually tied up." Luckily, they were.
After a while, a tractor
showed up. Our guide, our
cook, our entire luggage
and 5 of us fit on this little
tractor. It was quite a trip!
Breathing the fumes,
almost falling off the
tractor a couple of times,
both feet falling asleep and
my back aching, we finally
made it to Samye in about
one hour. Walking would
have taken us about 3
hours, but after that
experience, I would have
preferred the walk!
We were dropped off at the Samye Monastery Guesthouse, on the plaza in front of the Uetse, the
central building of Samye. We got a room on the top floor overlooking the plaza.
It was pretty hot and we decided to stay in the room for a while. We had a nice breeze going as we
opened the window and the door. The Portland couple and their Vietnamese friend dropped off their
luggage in our room and then visited the Monastery as their bus to Lhasa was not supposed to leave
before 1:30 pm. Also, we met the German couple from Hamburg from our Beijing - Lhasa flight
again. They were 2 rooms down from us. We chatted for a while.
At 3:30 pm, we met with Tsering and visited the Monastery. Samye Monastery was Tibet's first
monastery and has a history which spans over 1,200 years. At Samye, the Buddhist faith set down
roots in Tibet. At that time, the Boen was Tibet's religion, a shamanistic faith which encompassed
gods and spirits, exorcism and talisman, amongst other things. The Tibetan government at that time
was Boen dominated, so they were not pleased. It was at the Hepu Ri, just outside of Samye, where
the Guru Rinpoche defeated the demons of Tibet, basically ending the reign of Boen and paving the
way for Buddhism in Tibet.
We went inside the Uetse which dominates Samye. The architecture of this building comprises a
synthesis of different syles. The ground and first floor are originally in Tibetan style, the second floor
was Chinese and the third floor was Indian. The main attraction in the Uetse is the Jowo Khan,
Samye's most revered chapel, which contains a 4 meter high statue of Sakyamuni, the Historical
Buddha. We made our rounds through the different floors. Then, Tsering left us and Marc and I
walked the Samye kora and got back to the Guesthouse around 6 pm.
As the restaurant of the Guesthouse did not look very appetizing, we bought instant noodles in one
of the surrounding shops. Then, we sat up camp on the roof of the Guesthouse with spectacular views
of the Uetse, Hepu Ri and the entire Samye Monastery. Marc and I ate our noodles and were soon
joined by the German/Canadian couple and the Hamburg couple.
We bought a few Lhasa Beers in one of the shops and had a very enjoyable evening on the rooftop of
our Guesthouse. We discussed the past, current and future state of Tibet and we all agreed that there
was no more independent Tibet in the future!! In our mind, China will not relinquish their control
over Tibet anymore. Went to bed around 9:30 pm.
Unfortunately, you see alot of
campsites where the trash has been left
behind. I don't understand why people
cannot clean up after themselves!
View from our room
Communal Bathroom... the hole
ended right next to the kitchen!!
Guesthouse from the top of the
Chorten, Uetse and Hepu