Monasteries around Ganzi are well off the beaten track and make a great day trip if you hire a taxi. We visited 3 monasteries within a 30 kilometre radius of Ganzi: Dagei Gompa, Began Gompa, or Baigei Si, and Beri Gompa, or Baili Si (all names are approximate).
Hire a taxi to see all three in a day
In order to do this, we hired a taxi for a half day for 250 Yuan. Our driver was a friendly chap who seemed to be of mixed Chinese- Tibetan origin and could speak both Mandarin (of sorts) and Tibetan. More importantly, he seemed to get on well with everybody.
Monasteries around Ganzi: Our first stop, Dagei Gompa
Our first stop, Dagei Gompa, is about 30 kilometres back towards Manigango. The landscape along the way is glorious: lots of grazing animals, imposing mountains and small villages, their houses and walls covered in vertical beige and white stripes.
Ganzi /Garze /甘孜 Revisited. Ganzi is a place to visit more than once in your llifetime. If asked about our favourite place in China, Ganzi would be one of the first to spring to mind. Ganzi to Dege (click here).
Ganzi /Garze /甘孜 Revisited: Our First Visit
We have passed through this small town in the heart of Tibetan Sichuan a few times since 2004, and last year was another opportunity. Ganzi has everything – except nightlife perhaps – a traveller could possibly want: wild and majestic mountains rise up just beyond its last houses, offering amazing hiking opportunities; scarcely explored, ancient monasteries dot the landscape in every direction; the large Ganzi Si looms high above the Tibetan quarter, offering great views of the surrounding countryside.
Down below, in the town centre, there are quiet, old streets of wonderful traditional architecture, bustling shopping streets, lined with colourful shops selling a whole array of exotic Buddhist paraphernalia, a hidden temple or two, as well as a cool Continue reading “Ganzi /Garze /甘孜 Revisited”
Zhira Gompa no Sky Burials Please! What’s a Sky Burial?
Zhira Gompa no Sky Burials Please! The plane is landing. Sky burials have been banned at Zhira Gompa due to vultures putting planes at risk.
“Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common funerary practice in Tibet wherein a human corpse is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements or the mahabhuta and animals – especially to birds of prey. In Tibet the practice is known as jhator (Tibetan: བྱ་གཏོར་; Wylie: bya gtor), which literally means, “giving alms to the birds.”
The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it, or nature may let it decompose. So the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains. In much of Tibet the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and with fuel and timber scarce, a sky burial is often more practical than cremation.” (quote taken from Wiki-pedia)
Here is a quick breakdown of our route this summer made over a period of nearly six weeks using a combination of train, bus, taxi and boat travel. Some serious problems with altitude sickness made us cut short our visit to the area around Nangchen in Qinghai province.
As soon as we get back to Madrid (in 2 weeks) and go through our photos we’ll put up small texts for the blog and longer ones for the Web. We are also working on a new Photo gallery.
Tianshui and around: Maiji Shan – Gangu and the Moustached Sakyamuni – The Longmen Water Curtain Caves
Lanzhou – The Gansu Provincial Museum – The Yellow River
I asked the friendly monk what they ate in winter when the snows came. He smiled and pointed to the scraggy dogs scrounging around for scraps and the forlorn looking mules that wandered aimlessly in front of the monestary. I looked at him to see if there might be a slight trace of a grin that would confirm he was joking. There wasn’t any grin, he just affirmed that they were quite tasty. I looked out over the mountains and valleys, more remote you could hardly get, I began to believe him.
On our third day in Dege we hired a jeep with a driver to take us to Palpung Gompa, Babang in Chinese, otherwise known as “Little Potala”, due to its resemblance to the palace of the Dalai Lama.
Ganzi is one of those towns you’ll never forget. Arriving late at night, we first tried the plush new “Golden Yak Hotel” at the bus station. Unfortunately, despite having all the mod-cons, there was not a drop of water coming out of its taps. This is how our diary describes it:
Tuesday August 31, 2004We enter our room and feel we are in heaven: brand-new comfy furniture, cosy beds, a power shower, fluffy towels, all those things we have been dreaming about. However, when we try the taps, there is no water. A minor detail the teenage girls who seem to be running the place “forgot” to mention. They claim the problem is extended to all Ganzi, something to do with the pressure, and suggest we try the hot-springs tomorrow. Angry, sceptical and covered in grime, we march into a nameless Chinese hotel across the road, whose well-lit lobby has caught our attention, to make some further enquiries. Here we are received by a large-bosomed lady with her hair in a lacquered bun and a handbag dangling off her arm, a kind of Chinese Mrs Slowcombe, for those who remember the British series “Are you being served?” She proudly assures us, and shows me personally, that not only do they have running “shui” (water), they have lots of “kai shui”(hot water) as well, because they have their own water system. Obviously, not all of Ganzi is without water! We confront the hotel girls with this news, demand our money back and move over to the other side of the road, dragging our filthy-unpacked backpacks and lots of plastic bags behind us.
Overall, independently from the water problem, Ganzi is an incredibly friendly town. For one thing, we have seldom come across more helpful and efficient staff at a bus station anywhere in China……For more go to HolaChina: Your Gateway to China
We will be updating Information on Ganzi from our 2009 Visit