Friday Lens Affairs 149

Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, Tibet, China

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.

She takes some amazing pictures and I’m really happy to host her on my series, anyway, have a look yourself, here is her Facebook.

Disclaimer: The Girls decided to close their blog in March of 2018.

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 were 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.

In 1980, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok founded the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in the Larung Valley near the township of Larung in Sêrtar County, Garzê Prefecture, Sichuan Province

The purpose of the Institute has been to provide an ecumenical training in Tibetan Buddhism and to meet the need for renewal of meditation and scholarship all over Tibet in the wake of China’s Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.

Despite its remote location, it grew from a handful of disciples gathering in Jigme Phuntsok’s home to be one of the largest and most influential centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism in the world, numbering to nearly 10,000 monks, nuns, and lay disciples by the year 2000.

As of 2015, the number of residents has grown to about 40,000.

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  Tak Bat Ritual, Lunag Prabang, Laos

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26 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affairs 149

  1. A photo that draws the eye and a description that appeals to al the senses!

  2. That is amazing image, it was make a very difficult jigsaw

    Molly recently posted…Day 139 – Walk OutMy Profile

  3. Superb! I love this shot!
    Photo(Geo)grapher recently posted…Tree alley – typical component of the landscape in PolandMy Profile

  4. Kristi

    What an amazing photo. I would love to go along on some of Prue’s adventures!

  5. That’s a great story on your road trip to Sertar. The picture of the hillside is quite colorful.
    Rhonda recently posted…Cartagena Port in Columbia: Toucans, Iguanas, Monkeys and MoreMy Profile

  6. Fascinating, both the photo and the adventure.

  7. A fantastic photo. I’d not heard of this place before.

  8. It looks indeed very great. Marvelous view and thank you for showing us.

  9. What a neat place! I love how it’s all embedded to the side of the hill. Incredible.
    Freda recently posted…Magnolia SkiesMy Profile

  10. Amazing image and wow, the story how to get there! Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely sky week.

  11. Mandy

    This image is amazing! And the story is crazy. I can’t imagine going through so much to visit a monastery. Thanks for sharing this story! :)

    • I can imagine doing so myself without a minute of hesitation, such place is worth the struggle for sure :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair 150My Profile

  12. Jolene Ejmont

    Wow, that truly looks incredible!! That photo grabbed my attention from the word go! Would love to see it myself in real life one day!
    Jolene Ejmont recently posted…10 Essential Survival Tips for Flying with KidsMy Profile

  13. Prue Sinclair

    Thanks for sharing our story on Sertar Marysia, you’re truly delightful to collaborate with.

    Kindest regards,


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