Archive for monastery

Hong Kong’s Big Buddha

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Yarn Over New York

During my Asian Winter Odyssey of 2010-2011, I made several short stopovers in Hong Kong.  It was a convenient location to rest for a day or two between trips and also to meet up with friends from Macau.  One on of these stopovers, my friends and I went to Lantau Island to see Hong Kong’s Tian Tan Buddha (Heaven Buddha) and Po Lin Monastery.

Big Buddha

To travel to the Buddha from Central, you need to take a ferry to Lantau Island and then a bus to the site.  All in all it takes about an hour and a half.

As you may or may not know, Hong Kong is a fairly polluted city.  The air quality and visibility are usually pretty crappy.  Our visit happened on an average day, so the photos seems a bit yucky, but at least you can actually see the Buddha and surrounding hills.

Before heading back to Central, we had a tasty vegetarian lunch at the Po Lin Monastery.

Me and Marshall in front of the monastery

I fully recommend taking a trip to the Big Buddha if you visit Hong Kong.  It’s a peaceful location and there are several hiking trails nearby.


See more photos of Hong Kong here.


My Face is Frozen- My Tibetan Trek

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

My Face is Frozen!!

At the beginning of my Asian Winter Odyssey, I spent a few days in Lhasa, Tibet.  After a few days of sightseeing there, we began our journey through Tibet on our way to Mt. Everest.  We visited several amazing sights along the way.

13 November- Nam Tso Lake

Our first stop outside of Lhasa was Tibet’s Nam Tso Lake. It is the largest lake in Tibet.  We were among the last few visitors to this turquoise lake in the clouds.  I would love to visit Nam Tso in the summer.  I imagine it is even more gorgeous.  There are some rocks that look like they would be amazing to climb.  (I don’t think you’re allowed to climb them , though.  😦  )

The Couple Stone

Peace Monument (just outside Nam Tso area)

14 November- Tombs of the Kings and 

We went to Shannan to visit the Tombs of the Tibetan Kings.  The monastery is really small and on top of a hill overlooking the valley of tombs.

The giant mounds are the burial sites

That day we also visited the teeny tiny Changdrok Temple.  It is the oldest temple in Tibet.

As the monastery is situated atop a very steep hill, we rode horses to the top

My friend the camel.

15 November- A Long Day in a Car to Gyantse

We set out in the morning on our way to the town of Gyantse.  We made several stops along to way to see the sights.

Reminds me of Jacob's Ladder- Tibetan prayer drawings

Yamdrok Lake

Kharola Glacier- 5560 meters above sea level!

We arrived in Gyantse in the later afternoon.  We set out to explore town before the sun went down.

Many doors have these swastikas. The Buddhist symbol of good luck

16 November- Gyantse Fort and Palcho Monastery

Don't fall off the fort!

We visited the ruins of the Gyantse Fortress.  It involved hiking up a lot of stairs and climbing over a lot of rubble, but gave us a great view of the town.

A view of the Palcho Monastery from Gyantse Fort


Our next stop was the Palcho Monastery.

The monastery is most notable for its Kumbum, which looks like a giant stupa with a golden dome on its top.  It has nine levels and you can walk inside and see countless holy images of buddha and other holy icons.

The Kumbum


Offerings at Buddha's feet

Green Tara

Tibetans carry melted yak butter in these thermos to pour into the butter lamps that burn as offerings in the temples

One last view of the Kumbum

17 November- Shigatse, Tingri, Tashilhunpo and Sakya Monasteries

At the Tashilhunpo Monastery

Our last day before Everest, we headed to Shigatse, stopping at the Tashilhunpo and Sakya Monsteries along the way.

A monk sorting prayer scarves at Tashilhunpo

Prayer Wheels at Sakya Monastery

A guardian at Sakya

That evening we arrived in New Tingri for our last night before Everest!

A yak along the road to New Tingri


By the end of our Tibetan Trek, our clothes smelled like incense and our cameras were filled with lots of amazing photos of many inspirational people and sights.  We were ready to head up, up, up to the Top of the World!

See more photos of Tibet here.

Lhasa, Tibet

Posted in Asian Winter Odyssey 2010-11, Travel Asia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Yarn Over New York

Sign does not lie

I consider the Tibetan capital city, Lhasa my first official stop in my Asian Winter Odyssey.  I was traveling for this first leg of my journeys with my former co-worker Kevin and his boyfriend Matt.

Me, Matt and Kevin outside the Lhasa Train Station

After our 25-hour train journey from XiNing, we arrived at the chilly city of Lhasa.  We were ready to be on solid ground and enjoy the comfort of a 3 star hotel bathroom.  (Mind you, my bedroom in this 3-star hotel had a hole the size of my first in the wall to the outside.)

8 November- Arrival Day and Kevin’s Birthday

Upon arrival we met our tour guide, Phuntsok. (SIDE NOTE: The pronunciation of his name sounds like “Pencil”.  Therefore the three of us still affectionately refer to him as and think of him as Pencil.  And furtherly therefore, I will spell his name as Pencil throughout the rest of my blog.)  Pencil delivered us to our hotel and made arrangements to meet in 2 days to begin our tour.

That night, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday at a Hot Pot restaurant.  We ate lots of mushroom soup and drank the famous local yoghurt drink.   (It was very tart.)

That night I was cold while trying to sleep.  I pulled my blanket over my head and thus drastically reduced the amount of oxygen I could breathe.  With the already high altitude (3490 m (11450 ft)) in Lhasa, I started to feel pretty sick.  I’ll spare you the details and skip to the part when I get some bottled oxygen and begin to feel much better.  🙂

9 November- Free Day in Lhasa and My Birthday

We used our first full day to acclimate to the altitude and explore the area on foot.

Potala Palace and Its Reflection


We ate dinner that night at a vegetarian restaurant in honor of my birthday.  🙂

We met a very talkative kid at the restaurant. All he could say in English was "Hello!"

We also found a cute little café with free wi-fi and street signs from Hong Kong.

10 November- Sera Monastery and Jokhang Temple

We met up with Pencil again and began our guided tour of Tibet.  We went to the Sera Monastery and the Jokhang Temple.

The Sera Monastery


Jokhang Temple Prayer Pole

After visiting both of Buddhist Temples/Monasteries, we wandered through the outdoor market stalls.

11 November- Potala Palace

Tibet’s most famous palace is certainly, the large Potala Palace.  It is the former seat of the Dalai Lama.  For history of the current (14th) Dalai Lama read here.

12 November- Drepung Monastery

We visited the Drepung Monastery, which is located on the side of a mountain and offers a nice view of Lhasa and has many nooks and crannies in the rocks where people have built small shrines.   The highlight of this day was sitting in the assembly hall during the monks’ chanting.  It was so powerful and beautiful that I got a little weepy.


I SO need one of these!

My stay in Lhasa was COLD, COLD, COLD and TOTALLY stunning.  I was floored by the constant prayer of the natives.  They carry prayer wheels and build prayers into flags, scarves and everyday actions.  I fell in love with Tibet and its brilliant colors.

We did not photograph the insides of the temples and monasteries, however, they were also amazing.  Pilgrims carry yak butter to pour into vats to burn in offering.  They stuff low denomination notes into any crevice in the wood or brick and toss them at the feet of all the icons.  At most places, the pilgrims were lined up by the hundreds.

In the city center, the Chinese military was very visibly present.  They have sheltered stalls with 3 to 6 men in each at most intersections.  We were told that it is illegal to photograph the army.  See more information about this here.

See more (many) more photos of Lhasa here.

Read more about my Asian Winter Odyssey here.