Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We are in the Land of Gompas

So after a remarkable feat of sleeping on day 1 in Leh, I wanted to go see a thing or two on day 2. But as it's still unwise to exert oneself when one is acclimating to high altitude, I rented a motorbike. (questionable? perhaps.)

A few monasteries (or "gompas") of Ladakh presented a nice day's schedule. Shey on the way out at 10km, Hemis at 40km, and then Thiksey about halfway back.

The biking was good: I at least sorta remembered what all the controls do, I turned corners well enough, and only once did I stall out in the middle of a busy intersection. So much more fun than cars! Arguably safer, or at least easier, too: the main road here is about wide enough for a bike and a car, but not two cars.

The gompas were also good. So I thought I might be sort of religiously interested in these, 'cause they're Buddhist and all, but it turns out that the kind of Buddhism that builds statues like this:
estranges me about as much as any other religion. Still, the fact that they did have statues like this:

is cool on a "big statues are neat" level. Also:

(there is a body to that statue too. It is some 22 feet tall.)
At one point I wandered into a room where these monks were sitting around reading a thing, with occasional breaks to play discordant drums, cymbals, and these sorta oboe-sounding horns.

Finally, they look amazing on the outside. Hemis:

and Thiksey:


  1. What exceptional views from up there. So that's what you see 3 1/2 miles up! Great photos! Mr T approves of your jibba jabba.

  2. I am still laughing at the "occasional head-scratcher" signs. It just makes you say, "huh?" Love the pics, Dan. I can't tell...are there all sorts of things in front of the Buddah statue? Like food, candy, gum, etc? People bring "stuff" to the Buddah, yes? I hope you are on the other side of altitude sickness. Brutal! Thanks for the blog!

  3. Anonymous will add her screen name once she figures out how to do so. :( Sheesh... Once done, her comments will be from CobraStarship. You read that right. Happy Trails!

  4. Yeah, there are big trays of food, candy, gum, water, butter, oil, money, and all sorts of things. As if the Buddha could eat them. Well, it's the thought that counts.

    Also, am I supposed to recognize the name "CobraStarship"? Either way's fine, just wanted to make sure I'm not supposed to know who you are :)

  5. Oh, right, sorry. Unless you have honed your psychic abilities you would not know me as CobraStarship. haha...Let's just say that I told Kelly when she left for college I would be changing my name and re-introducing myself. "Hello, my name is CobraStarship." Somehow, we thought that was hilarious and laugh every time we see that band's name pop up on the radio in my car. If laughter = endorphins and CobraStarship makes me laugh, then...