Sky Burials

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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Trip End Oct 08, 2012


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Where I stayed
Potala Guesthouse
What I did
Sky Burials

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Monday, September 19, 2011

Lucky for me the guys that gave me the lift back to Daocheng from Yading were heading to Kanding, as Litang is on the way they agreed to drop me off this morning. We met up for a typical Chinese breakfast of pork filled sticky buns, hard boiled eggs and rice porridge before setting off for another speedy ride down the canyon. One thing I've been meaning to mention is the odd sound of their word for "that," in Chinese it is “nigga,” so you can only imagine how wrong it sounds every time I hear the word and they say it often, kind of like our version of “um.”

I landed at Potala Guesthouse, which advertises English speaking, which the owner does but the Bitch that she is, she basically sleeps all day and only comes out to ask for money. The alternative guesthouse is the Peace which is run by a really nice speaking local who was able to arrange not only the big tourist attraction, Sky Burials but also was extremely helpful arranging me a ride to Tagong for the next day.

The Tibetan funeral is called a Sky Burial and from the one that I witnessed it involves a Monk atoning for his sins slicing the skin of the dead person before calling 100 massive vultures to devour the body. Once the beasts have finished eating the flesh another guy is brought in to chop up the bones with an axe until every last remnants has vanished; all the while the family of the dead picnics below barely watching.

It is an absolutely brutal act to watch and although I tried to stay detached emotionally it was important for me to recognize that this is their culture and all I can do is respect their way as I stood there taking photos inconspicuously. I would often shift my focus to observing the enormity of these trained vultures obviously this way from being well fed.

The afternoon was spent chilling out at the hostel with a large group of Israelis before walking the town in search of a seamstress to make us an outer bag for our backpacks and then for a visit to the birthplace of the 7th Dali Lama and later to the large monastery. We arrived to the monastery close to 6:00PM so the temples where closed but more interesting was the debate that was beginning just as we arrived. All the young monks come out into the square and as one sits answering questions asked by his companion, a teacher walks around and observes. On the way back another monk tried to invite us inside the temple and I’m not sure for what else because unfortunately we had to get back to the seamstress by 7:00PM.

I spent the evening having tea with a local Tibetan girl and her friends while simultaneously downloading photos before getting a decent night sleep.
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