August 2, 2005
If you ever want to experience the early 19th century American West, I suggest taking the road from Litang to Xinlong. Along the way you will see tens of thousands of yaks (think buffalo), hundreds of yurts (teepees), and all manner of things that were supposed to have vanished long ago (men on horses with flintlock rifles strapped to their back for example). After climbing and crossing a pass you descend into a deep old growth forest so thick with trees it brings to mind the brother's Grimm. I recommend it.
After those valleys you cross over into an area unmistakably Tibetan (no longer western feeling, but no less 19th century) with large stone homes hanging on the sides of deep river valleys.
. . .
Xinlong is a medium sized semi-modern Tibetan city. There are two major monasteries nearby. We went out to the Bon Black Sect monastery and were escorted around by an older monk. He led us into one of the inner chambers where a young lama was sitting on a throne counting money. On the floor below a black bunny rabbit hopped around with impunity. We were told not to eat rabbit and were given small packets of herbs. It was all a bit odd.
When we exited we ran into a funeral, a Tibetan woman stirring a funeral pyre and weeping inconsolably. On the steps of the monastery about 200 monks were chanting. It was quite a scene.
I've been having intense dreams. Always happens at altitude. Perhaps more on that later. Right now I must escape. Internet access in China happens in dark smoky rooms and the smoke is killing me.