November 28, 2011

So these pictures might be a little misleading at first but here goes the story: After finishing up my interviews in Shangrila, I met up with Priscilla and decided to get as close to the Tibet Autonomous Region as we could. We headed north to Dequin on a bus ride that is notoriously the “Most Beautiful Bus Ride in China.” It certainly rivaled the one I wrote about on the way to Lugu Lake. Nonetheless, we arrived in Dequin and were told by our hotel receptionist that there was nothing to do there. We walked around the entire city in around a half hour, and agreed. I felt bad because I suggested that this place would be really beautiful. Instead, the city was dirty and trying desperately to develop. Metal beams zigzagged through the skyline, hinting at resorts, and areas were boarded off for construction in most of the city. A depressing man-made river flushed most of the cities garbage downhill to nowhere in particular. Still, styrofoam, poop, and torn clothing could be seen caught in the middle or on the concrete embankments. This was not the city we wanted to be in. I decided to call a friend from Shangrila, who might be able to give us a little advice on where to go. Perhaps, he could help us salvage our trip. So, in the freezing cold room with a red smudge on the wall that we hoped was just a phone number written in red (probably done by a freelance prostitute), I phoned Dokpa. He told us that we had to go to this temple called Fei Lai Si. The next day we ventured that direction, and I realized that this place had a redemptive quality. It was a jumping point to get to a little town in view of China’s sacred mountain. The top photo is the temple, after which the village is named. The bottom two are the view from our window. Pretty darn lovely to wake up every morning to that view. It kept me off the paper I was supposed to be pre-writing.