Today I’m featuring an amazing shot from Larung Gar Buddhist Institute taken by Prue Sinclair from Straight On Detour Blog.
Prue is a long-term traveller, incessant blogger and lover of all things nature. Her adventures have transformed her flip flops into hiking boots and her backpack now includes a tent and diving gear, anything to get off the grid.
Photo Story: Larung Gar Buddhist Institute
Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Sertar.
Have you ever seen a photograph and knew you just had to get there?
From a single photograph we saw in a Chinese girls’ book, we embarked on a 3-day detour to an area of China that has banned independent travel. To a place that you would need to see, or should I say smell, to believe but all for what, the greatest adventure of our lives, a photograph? Well… yes.
“Can we have a bus ticket to Sertar?” “No”
“Can we have a bus ticket to the north?” “No”
“Can we have a ticket to wherever this bus is going?” (* I point at a bus with people on it) “No”
“Can we BUY any bus ticket?” “No”
As a foreigner, this response to buying a bus ticket in rural western China is common, the Chinese government is adamant at herding tourists away from traditionally Tibetan areas and towards the cities.
Over three days we swapped cars, mimed and grinned at our friendly drivers and were often the guests of honour at local roadhouses on our hitch-hiking journey north. We eventually did reach Sertar… only a day or so after any of the buses would have.
Clinging to the hillside we faced hundreds of shoebox sized shanty houses stacked atop each other like lego pieces. The picture we had seen was now ever-present and every bit as mesmerising as we had imagined.
Sweaty and in desperate need of a shower we haul our tattered backpacks up the winding dusty road towards the frenzied mass of housing.
The deeper we walked, the more the appeal started to fade. In reality, 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns lived and studied here with no running water, no waste disposal and no sewage management.
Inch by inch it was if the facade was crumbling before our eyes and the derelict conditions for the pupils was indescribably raw.
But as raw is it was, we didn’t waste a second without looking at us in amazement. Yes, our shower had to wait a couple more days but spending time within Larang Gar Buddhist Monastery was every bit as fascinating, memorable and photogenic as we had imagined.
A great adventure of our lives, an amazing photograph… Well yes.