Tsugolsky Datsan, Russia

The impression that the Aginsky datsan left on me was universal! I’ve never expected to see something like that. But my friend assured me that there’s another datsan not far from Chita, which is even more impressive. Maybe not that beautiful, but the atmosphere there is much better. She was talking about Tsugolsky datsan located about 300 km East of Chita, in the village of Tsugol. As usual, I hitchhiked there and got to the place in some 4-5 hours. Tsugolsky datsan is located 3 km off the road, so I had to walk through the hills along the rocky road. Right behind the last turn the roof of the temple appeared, and then the temple itself. The scenery was so beautiful I hardly could find words to express what I’ve felt.

 
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Aginsky Datsan, Russia

The black JEEP was riding along the snowy road, making its way through a hard blowing wind. There were waves of snow everywhere around and it seemed as if we were driving on a white soft blanket. Me, my friend Asya and the JEEP’s driver were discussing some topics, which I do not remember now as I was busy staring at the road. Me and Asya, after transferring from one car to another, finally got a ride straight to a small Siberian town called Aginskoye.

 
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Litang Chode Monastery

Litang town is the administrative centre of Litang County in the southwest of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province of China. The town is located at an altitude of 4,014 meters; its actual altitude is about 400 meters higher than Lhasa, which makes Litang one of the highest towns in the world. And just to the north of the town the famous Litang Chode Monastery is located.

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Giant Buddha Temple

In Zhangye Huachen International Hotel where me and my friend Anya got a room for free, we met Mr. Lee, local photographer with a dark black Chinese beard.. He was attracted by my beard and came to us to ask if he could touch it.. Maybe some others would feel awkward, but not me.. He touched my beard and said he likes it.. Was it another beard connection?.. I believe so.. Was my beard beautiful? I believe so, because Mr. Lee then asked permission to take photos.. He got his old film camera and together with hotel’s manager came to our room.. When the photo session was over, Mr. Lee said that in the morning he will come to take us for a tour.. We wanted to visit a local Buddhist temple and he offered himself to be our guide.. Next day in the morning we went to visit the temple.. How could we know it’s the Giant Buddha Temple, the largest architectural relic in Gansu Province of the Western Xia (1038-1227) period that houses China’s largest reclining Buddha..

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Four Buryats and Klyukovka

Offerings for Deity

After staying some days in Ulan-Ude, I decided to hitchhike to the city of Chita, where another friend was waiting for me. I left Ulan-Ude early in the morning on a marshrutka (a type of public transportation). When on the road, I had to walk a little bit to find a suitable spot to start hitchhiking. Got a lift in 5 minutes. A Buryat family drove me to the Kyakhta junction. While in the car, we talked about Buddhist and local pagan traditions and beliefs of Buryat people. From Kyakhta junction I had a 30-minute walk, because there were few cars passing by, and all of them had passengers already. Maybe there was a holiday, I don’t know. I kept walking, singing Beatles songs and hoping to catch a ride as it was pretty cold outside.
But soon, realizing that it might take long, I put down my backpack, took out the thermos with hot tea, thinking of having another breakfast. But at that very same moment, when I got the thermos, a van passed by me and stopped on the roadside about 10 meters away. then they drove back and stopped right at my side, softly touching the backpack. There were 4 Buryats sitting inside. One of them opened the window.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m hitchhiking to Chita.. Can you give me a ride?”
“Get in.”
 

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