Look out for a friendly monk!
(Kham Kartse, 2001 Summer)

I visited Kartse (Ganze) of eastern Tibet with Tsering, a monk I met at Golok Serta. We share one bed because Tsering cared about my money and intended to get the cheapest room.

Kartse Monastery up on a hill
The town of Kartse has a splendid monastery at the north end of the town. The 7th Naktsang Rinpoche, one of the highest lamas from Kartse, happened to stay there for teaching ceremonies. Many followers gathered there to receive the lama's teaching and blessing.

A monk guided me at the monastery here and there. A modern building stands next to the main assembly hall. I felt dreary because the concrete complex looked so far from traditional Tibetan style. Is it not good to have attachment to "style"?

Exhibition room of ritual masks

A friendly monk, named Pasang (fictitious), suddenly talked to me on the street of Kartse. First he said,"tell me your phone number".
I met him for the first time. Why phone number?
We had tea and noodles at a Muslim tea shop where he decided to invite me to his monastery.
I asked him,"is it near?". He answered,"not so far".
I had already got the ticket of 6AM bus of the next morning.
Pasang intended,"no problem. you'll be on time!"
We two started for his monastery. It was already late afternoon.

We took a rickshaw and ran and ran to the end of the paved road. We walked and walked from there, passing several small villages. It should be pleasant if I came during daytime. But sunset was soon now.
After all, we reached Pasang's village. More than three hours had passed. The monastery is at the top of a hill. We spent half an hour more to climb up.
I was invited to the VIP room for the head lama of the monastery. But I could not see anything gorgeous in the room because of blackout. Anyway I spent a comfortable night there with butter tea and noodles there.

Taking a rest with Pasang and his friend.

Next morning....I had given up the 6AM bus. But Pasang tried to find a bike taxi to the town early in the morning. It was already 7AM when I came back to the town of Kartse after all.

If you meet a friendly monk asking phone number in Kartse, you can find my name on his address book. I hope he remembers me as a Japanese who was somehow in a great hurry.