Wednesday, June 24, 2015

China, The Lost Photos: Part 2 (Tibet)

Welcome to part two of the Lost Photo Series, which, thus far, has only touched upon my experiences in Beijing. The simple premise of these posts is the re-discovery of a selection of photos that I thought I had lost altogether. All the photos are from a trip to China in 2009 taken by a naive and not particularly well traveled teenager, also known as myself. 

It's been an interesting experience going through these old photos. For one, I'm a much different photographer now who focuses on different things (with a much better camera!). At this time, I think I merely wanted to capture that I was there, and now I look to capture why I'm there. Luckily, I was able to sift through the electronic stack of photos, and find a few that I think are worth sharing. 

This isn't chronological, but this is the part two that I want. The photos below capture the road trip we took from Langzhou, southwest towards and into Tibet. Again, I was with two of my close compadres, Lawrence and Mike. The green, jutted mountains were like none I had ever seen. 

At this point in my life, it was all new for me, and there's something rather special about that now that I think about it.

Once into Tibet, we headed for a Tibetan monastery, which was several hours past the border (one that is rather disputed.) The monastery was still very much active, which is why I hesitated to go too trigger happy on the camera, especially in areas where prayers and the like were ongoing.

There was an ornate room near the back of the monastery with gorgeous sculptures. However, what was different about these sculptures was that they were made of cheese. That's right. They were made this way to represent the impermanence and mortality of man. Every year, they tear them down and rebuild them as a meditative exercise. If for some reason I didn't believe it was cheese, the smell was convincing enough, though, admittedly, it wasn't altogether unpleasant.

Driving across the countryside of Tibet was something I won't soon forget, especially the variance in landscape. The road was rocky, in utter disrepair, but the views on either side of that road captured my full attention. There were stray cats fighting in small towns, green and yellow checkered fields, young boys running in front of old buildings, and nomadic peoples roaming at the foot of towering mountains. And this, of course, is an incomplete picture - It's only what I saw with my own eyes during that time period. There is so much more that I can only hope to see another time.

We had the opportunity during our time in Tibet to visit a monastery well off the beaten path. It was a monastery headed up by a Tibetan monk who was in some way connected to Lawrence's family, something we were very fortunate for. He was a kind-hearted man who readily welcomed us into the fold. I remember recalling that he seemed so at peace with himself and his surroundings. He took the time to bless us, and invited us to take part in some Tibetan Buddhist rituals. I became much more engaged and interested in Buddhism when I was living in Korea (2011-2012), and I thought back to this moment as the start of something. At the time, I'm sure I didn't know that, but maybe I felt it. 

These photos were indeed lost for a period of time, but the memories never were. However, In finding them, I also rekindled the memories, which has been a lovely experience. 

Stay tuned for more parts of the Lost Photos Series on the horizon. When? I'm not sure, as I'll be on the road come Monday, but in due time. In the meantime, I'll aim to keep creating more memories. 

Until next time, friends. 

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