Strange to think that just three days ago I was here! We drove south from Lanzhou, up and up through grassy or rocky hills, toward the edge of the Tibetan plateau, until we reached the city of Xiahe
. This sits at an elevation of about 3000 meters - but it's at a strategic intersection of four cultures: Tibetan, Mongolian, Han, and Hui (Chinese Muslim). And this is where we saw Labrang Monastery
: the biggest Tibetan Buddhist monastery outside Tibet.
We spent two days wandering around here. The building shown here is just one of many: there are 18 halls, six institutes of learning, and libraries holding nearly 60,000 sutras! It's very beautiful, and raised lots of questions. I want to learn more about the history of this place, and about Tibetan Buddhism.
The kids in red are novice monks. At its height, 4000 monks lived in Labrang Monastery. During the Cultural Revolution, they were kicked out and forced to work in villages. The monastery was reopened in 1980. Now about 1500 monks live here: that's the upper limit imposed by the Chinese government.
Now I'm back in Singapore. I'm too tired to show you my photos in an organized way... so I'm afraid you'll get them in a random order, and later I'll organize them on my online diary. You can already see a lot of my Silk Road posts starting here:http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/diary/february_2013.html #silkroad