Friday, November 30, 2012

I ate YAK…and I liked it

We were all too quickly moving into our last day of the trip. 

After we arrived at the Songtsam Retreat we had a whopping 30 minutes to get ready for dinner!  There were three of us in our room and yes, three women managed to all shower and wash hair in 30 minutes!  We were moving.

Our first order of business was dinner.  We had moved towards Tibet (we’re in what is known as Little Tibet…or the Diet coke of Tibet) so we were hopeful that with that move came a change of menu.

And BOY did it change,

We went to a lovely restaurant where we were served a nice vegetable soup, noodles and then…Yak with Barley.

The Yak was pretty cut up…in fact, downright tiny pieces!  It was cooked with a nice rich gravy and along with that and the barley, made for a really really good dish!  I do not have a picture of the dish

I DO however, have a picture of a Yak

IMG_6925  It is pretty big !  Think of it as a kind of  cross between a cow and a buffalo.

After dinner we went to a local show.  this was suggested by our guide.  First, see the coats?  Yea, they don’t close the outside doors…it was FREEZING in there.

IMG_6836 We got to taste Yak Butter Tea (I can’t make that up people), tasted like (chicken) bullion,  and a home made liquor that was served in tiny cups and had the kick of that Yak up there.  WOW.  The Chinese business men behind us (well, in China I guess they are just called business men) were LOVING this stuff and toasted each other through the entire show.  I personally wanted to have my eyesight the next day, so I left it alone.

The dancing begins:

IMG_6837 The pictures here are not good because of the lighting and the speed of the dancing.  I wish the show had been half as long as it was, but it was nice to see all the costumes.  The flutist was amazing


After the show we headed back to the hotel, where we set our room on fire…well, kind of.  I was just this side of asleep when Betty noticed our room filling with smoke from the wood burning stove and fire the staff set up for us.  Open all windows and all doors and a frantic call to the front desk handled THAT little emergency.

The next morning would bring our last day of touring, It was bright, beautiful and COLD!

IMG_6863IMG_6856Here is the retreat.  The first picture shows how spread out the place is. 

We were walked over to Songzanglin…the largest Tibetan Buddhist  monastery in Zhongdian – built by the fifth Dalia Lama!  It was built in 1679 but was majorly re-developed in the 1980’s b/c it was pretty much destroyed during the cultural revolution

I need to come up with a new adjective…WOW.  These two pictures are just one part!




First, as the sweeper, I brought up the rear while my traveling companions took pictures…and somehow before we got there…the early birds found Shoppertunities!  At a monastery?  YES

This is our guide:  Mr. Tom.  He brought us over the mountain and now was with us for the last days of our trip:

IMG_6875 He was so informative, that strangers joined our group to hear him talk!

IMG_6880 (it’s the girl in with the long black hair in the grey cap…yep…not one of ours)

While we were there, the monks were “un-decorating” the Monastery by removing these flags…there were hundreds of them!

IMG_6878IMG_6877IMG_6876 -See …up on the roof!

The monks run the place…so while some were inside praying, or working on the remodel of the main area, others were outside chatting, un-decorating or just moving through their day! Click on the pictures and check out the shoes!  Some in Nikes and some in traditional footwear!  Quite a cross-blend!


We were not allowed to take pictures inside…and the place is so massive (it consists of three main halls…the one of most “significance” being in the center of course.  In the main hall, there are HUGE Buddhas!  26 feet tall.  I went upstairs to go “eye to eye” with these incredible representations .

Here in the entrance of just one hall.  I’m sorry I don’t’ remember “who’s” hall this

IMG_6882  It was in this hall that you could make an offering and receive a blessing from one of the Monks…Many of us did this.  We received a bracelet in return.  I treasure mine.

Too soon we had to be on our way to lunch (does it seem to you that all we do is EAT on these trips??  YES!).  We saw this couple on the way out, traditionally dressed

IMG_6913 I bet they weren’t cold!


These were just some of the stairs we had to climb down to get to our bus.  It made me very happy we took the “back” way in…these were tough and STEEP (they were steep and at an altitude of 3300 meters…everything was just harder)


In the parking lot, locals would sit, socialize, and cook

IMG_6917IMG_6916IMG_6915 (Hot Pot)

IMG_6918 Me with the Monastery in the background

SO…were were scheduled to go and have lunch with a Tibetan family in a village for hot pot…but upon making an early morning phone call to confirm, our guide was told no one would be home to help us (huh? there were 22 coming for lunch!!) so we went to a nice restaurant where we had…

MORE YAK!  Lunch this time was very fun b/c YES! new foods AND it was Hot Pot so we could cook it ourselves. 

Here is the place:

IMG_6921 (just in case you want to stop by)



I was still pretty much off my feed, but I did have the broth from the Hot Pot and some Yak (when in Tibet…).  Both were very nice.

The afternoon would bring us to our last tour of the trip.  Off to another Tibetan village where we were welcomed.  It’s a lovely place!  That’s next time  --here is a link to Wikipedia..I’m only including it b/c they have WAY better pictures than I do…and there are pictures of the Giant Buddhas they we could not snap!


  1. Believe it or not, I've actually had yak butter tea. It's very salty. I had a friend who did a bicycle trip (!) in the Indian/Pakistani region of the Himalayas. Somehow she brought back yak butter and made tea for us.

  2. I love that! I can't imagine bringing it back though...