« China Day 9 - XiningChina Day 11 - Ganjia Grasslands »

China Day 10 - Amazing monasteries in Tongren

Added: September 29, 2009

Tags: China monastery photos river
Wednesday 15th of July. Finally real Chinese breakfast again. I missed it slightly in Tibet ;-) The most surprising were fried sardines. I liked most pickled lotus root. We came quite late there, the selection was limited. And still, at 9:05 about 50 uniformed hotel employees came to the room and finished the leftovers.

After breakfast we hopped to our bus and headed to Tongren.

Along Yellow River to Tongren

Tongren is about 3 hours ride from Xining. We passed through "boring" country with occasional interest like for example fake Great Wall for local people who cannot afford trip to real one.

We had several stops on this trip. The first one, surprisingly, was not about pictures.

We stopped in some village or small town because it hosted the last usable (survivable) toilet along the road. When Rich told us there will not be anything better I have decided to give it a try. (I usually avoided local toilets if possible).

We were led through restaurant to the backyard where at the end was small white building. It was screaming from distance "do not come closer". There were 2 two doors there, but without signs like 女 or 男 so I have picked randomly one on the right. Behind the wall was squatting local guy, good sign my instincts guided me well. Directly before me was big rectangular hole in the floor (20cm x 100cm?). I hope I do not need to describe how unattractive the abyss bellow was.

As I have returned to bus I've noticed there are women working at building site next to bus. We waved them. They waved back. That encouraged me to take 2 photos. It might not look like that on the photo, but they decided not to throw a brick into bus window.

Our next 3 stops were finally about taking photos of beautiful country. We have stopped next to Yellow River. I know water is not yellow, there will be photos with yellow water later (not today).

Water was calm, reflecting mountains in the background nicely. Atmospheric perspective played an important role in whole picture.

Two stops later we walked a bit, allowing us to get some foreground and some people into view.







We crossed the river by bridge shown on previous photo and continued through mountains. After some time we could see little river joining main flow. It was orange-brown, but small without big impact on colour of big river. After a few kilometres it split to 2 parts again - yellow and nice milk chocolate. It is pity we did not stop to take photos (those I took through window are terrible).

A few more kilometres and we entered more open country with grassy hills, trees and "deep" canyons in clay - I guess that's the place responsible for colouring the river.

Wutun Si

After lunch we returned a few kilometres back and visited Wutun Si Monastery. It is very nice, one of my favourite, because it was nicely rebuild. Restoration works were still in the progress, they were paving around it.




In the "foyer" of the first temple were monks preparing tsampa things. I am not sure it is for eating or offering. We were told we can take photos of them, but we cannot take photos inside temple. Unless we pay 10RMB. I looked inside, it was well lit and 10RMB was only half I have paid before. Deal!

I am happy with that decision, because it was the best lit place we visited till then and the first one with big Buddha sculptures we could take photos of. No flash was needed, ISO400 was sufficient for hand holding with vibration reduction.


Buddha of 1000 hands and 1000 eyes (eyes are also on palms).


Monasteries in Tongren are only ones allowed to have photo of 14th Dalai Lama.

We were allowed to take photos also in Assembly Hall.

This monastery is home for many children - monks. Left one is 11 years old.
DSC_6028_raw      DSC_6071_raw

Wutun Si is famous for tangka paintings they make there. We have visited studio and also shop. I still regret we have not bought any, but only one I really liked has been bought by Penelope (this is not a rant, I am just stating facts).

I have asked Rich what medium they use for paintings, but that was the 2nd question by me he had no answer for. It seemed like acrylics to me, but that could not be.




We concluded our visit to Wutun Si at nearby place (probably belonging to Wutun Si, but I do not remember). Only a short stop there to feed photons to our cameras.



Long Wu Monastery

We have returned back to Tongren for our last visit today. Originally it was planned for tomorrow morning, but we had still time today. We were glad we could see it today. Sun peeking through clouds played important role it that - you never know what weather will be tomorrow...

Long Wu is another important monastery in this region. It is not restored like Wutun Si, but that does not mean it is less attractive.


Window on the residence of 10th Panchen Lama.

Inside of the residence.



DSC_6137_raw      DSC_6163_raw

Parents of the boy on previous photo (on the left) pose proudly with their daughter. That had not been typical a few years ago. Minorities are allowed to have 2 children.

Tongren has very nice surroundings.