Monday, May 14, 2012

Just back from Radja ...

Well I made it! Two weeks in Gansu and Qinghai, during which time I managed to get to Choni (Zhuoni), Labrang (Xiahe) and Radja (Lajia - see old pic above) monasteries. I only managed to spend 30 minutes looking around Choni before I was nabbed by the local PSB, who came knocking on the door of my hotel and subsequently deported me from the county! But it was long enough to take some before and after pictures (they didn't realise I had already visited the monastery - they thought I had just got off the bus) - and to see that the place is now pretty much just a ghost town. The monastery was all but deserted, with just a few monks in residence, and had none of the vibrancy of Labrang or Kumbum. I was booted out because of the 'sensitivity' over Tibetan self immolations. Which is weird because there had been recentdisturbances at Radja (Lajia), which I was able to visit quite freely, in full view of the local cops. Radja was great - a very vibrant little monastery community in a spectacular setting, and the monks and locals were very friendly (possibly because many had spent time in India and a few could speak English). Also, they had a great locally-run independent school set up by Tibetans for Golok people there. Anyway, I will report more once I have my pictures developed.

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