Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yushu July 2010 - Update 1

Landed at Chengdu airport on 3 July at 1.30pm. Rinpoche arranged for a friend to pick me up. After checking into the hotel I took a much needed shower as Chengdu was hot. I explored Jinli Street during dinner time but had some problem with the Chinese language and at times had to resort to sign language. Had an early night to rest my body for the great assault over the next one month. Next morning I was back at Chengdu airport for my onward journey to Xining.

Xining by night

Dinner prepared by Rinpoche's caretaker

Arrived Xining at 3.30pm and Rinpoche was there waiting. Stayed the next two days in Xining to acclimatize before setting foot into Yushu. The flight to Yushu on 6 July took an hour versus by road which took me 18 hours in 2009. As the plane descended I had tears in my eyes, remembering the old Yushu and not knowing what to expect of the now devastated Yushu. Thupa and Ganyuk were there to pick us.

My eyes were blurred as we drove into town, passed Rinpoche’s completely flattened family house and a few meters away, Thupa’s badly damaged house. I could not snap any pictures as a part of me was numbed by what I saw (write up and pictures over next few articles)

Reached Norling Library, proud and majestic amidst all flattened buildings. The school behind Norling was down. About 80 school children perished on that fateful day. Norling, though standing, is 100% structurally damaged and will be pulled down at a later date. The 2 guestrooms, showers and toilets were undamaged. The guestrooms though undamaged were unsafe to stay. The clinic now serves as a temporary store and kitchen.

Rinpoche, with the help from an organization, had 6 rooms erected just before I arrived. These rooms were intended as storage rooms for the 50,000 over library books that will be brought down later from the first floor. Meantime it was home for Rinpoche and me.
In my room were two mattresses laid on a carpeted floor, with 3 floor tables. It was made homely with 2 “sofas” and a coffee table. Thupa and his 2 siblings, Kush and a few others live in the 3 government tents erected in front of these 6 new rooms.

The showers have no doors or curtains
It was a non-activity day/acclimatization day on the day I arrived. Over the next 4 days Kush brought me to Lepa Gou, Mani Pile, Princess Wen Cheng Stopover, Thrangu grounds, etc. One morning when I awoke I saw a big truck with a few lamas and a handful of workers loading things into the truck. I knew it was time to make the trip to Wamlung.

Wamlung monks loading mattresses, floor cushions, vegetables, pots & pans and building materials for next day's trip into Wamlung Monastery

I was both excited and apprehensive about making this trip to Wamlung which is more than 5,000 meters above sea level. Will I be able to take the altitude? What if I have altitude sickness and it becomes severe? Will they be able to transport me down in time (the roads are hopelessly bad)? Rinpoche mentioned there are bears and wolves at Wamlung. What if they decide to visit me at my tent? There will be no baths for the number of days that I am there. No toilets. Sleep in tents. Freezing cold at night. There is no backing out. This trip is definitely on. This is the first time that Rinpoche is taking any visitor up to Wamlung and I cannot chicken out. After all I am going with Rinpoche and with his blessings everything will be alright.

More to come …. The journey into Wamlung and the devastated Yushu …


Lai SW said...

Ah..finally your recount of your 'assault' on Yushu/Wamlung. Took you that long to recover? :) Take care.

InnerJourney said...

Was needed in another part of this planet when I came back. :)