An Adventure through the Himalayas
Written by Christine Marshall
As a Tour Manager working for Wendy Wu Tours I have escorted many groups throughout some of the more remote and interesting countries surrounding the Himalayan region. I am constantly amazed by not only the landscapes and people but by the different takes on one religion – Buddhism.
When people think about Buddhism the Dalai Lama comes to mind, and on the Wendy Wu Himalayan Adventure Tour, we explore his homeland of Tibet. The adventure really begins once we land in Lhasa, capital of Tibet. It is an extraordinary place, hard at times until you acclimatise but worth every minute. One of the main highlights is the Potala Palace, which sits on a hill in the middle of the town with the sun glistening off the vast whitewash walls. It’s just one of a number of interesting and bewildering sights we see in Tibet.
Apart from the astonishingly beautiful countryside and jaw-dropping mountain experience of visiting Everest Base Camp, a personal highlight for me is the Kumbum Monastery in Gyantse. Often referred to as the Wedding Cake building because of its beauty, the colours and decorations, seem out of place in what is quite a stark landscape. Everywhere you go you come across the sight of devout people at prayer. Living their lives with the thoughts of Buddha uppermost in their minds.
Every time I go to Nepal, we visit an old friend of mine, as he has become over time.
He is an 84-year-old Buddhist monk living in a tiny forest monastery. Just as he has for the last 45 years! He spent his life here following the teachings of Buddha and enriching the lives of many. A humble man who loves nothing better than to allow us into his world, share his food and tell us of his life. We always arrive unannounced but are welcomed with open arms. We always leave feeling incredibly fortunate that we are to be able to visit places as special as this.
Buddhism has many meanings throughout Asia.
Buddhism in Bhutan means beautiful monasteries just waiting to be photographed. In Nepal Buddhists worship and live in harmony with Hindus, often worshipping at the same temples.
Visiting Zhongdian or Shangri-La in China’s Yunnan province feels like you are stepping back in time. Beautiful wooden buildings, tiny cobbled streets, stunning monasteries and yet another take on Buddhism.
Then, of course, there is Mongolia, yet again another gem, stunningly beautiful with warm-hearted people and nomadic lifestyles so different from us.