Enlightened inside a Tibetan home
A window into a traditional Tibetan home in a rural village. This was from one of my day trips out of Shangri-La and up into the front range of the Himalayas in the northern corner of Yunnan province. Many of the people living in the small mountainside towns, farms and villages are ethnic Tibetan. It was an honour to see some of their culture during a visit to this village.
It was interesting as this is a place that tour buses stop during day trips into the mountains so it is a tourist focused place but the people living there had a joy and vibrancy about them which stood apart from many similar locations. I really enjoyed the couple of hours that I spent there.
Autumn leaves in Shangri-La
Autumn is nearing its end this year in my part of the world. When I was in Shangri-La, China last month fall colors had just started to appear in the forests. In the Puducao National Park, I found these brilliant leaves among the deep greens dominating the foliage along the southern shoreline of Shudu Lake. If you are interested in seeing other images from my trip, please click this link.
A few more scenes from Shangri-La’s countryside
The countryside surrounding Shangri-La is a rural landscape of small farms, fields and villages divided by densely forested hills, soaring mountains and deeply carved rivers. When I was in China last month I spent a couple of days driving the narrow roads that connect these places. These are a selection of these scenes as I experienced them.
Morning in Shangri-La’s countryside
The smoke from early fires, mist from the warming earth and sunlight filtering through the clouds created an interesting atmosphere around this small village in the countryside a few miles north of Shangri-La. I ended up spending a couple of days in the rural areas outside of the city and enjoyed seeing this side of life and its juxtaposition with the urban pace in the city.
Street scenes from Shangri-La
When I was in Shangri-La in China a couple of weeks ago, I spent a fair bit of time before and after the award ceremony and activities walking around the city’s old town area. I enjoyed photographing the street scenes I came across.
I loved the three wheeled vehicles that thread through traffic carrying fruit, people, propane and almost anything else.
Above and below are from my first morning in China, before heading up to Shangri-La. I stayed in a small town called Ka Fa Chu perched on the side of a steep valley above the Yangtze River. I woke up and walked around the town visiting a small temple and ending along a busy street where the traffic heading up to Shangri-La passed close by. These gentlemen were focused on this game which was not familiar to me but appeared to be equal parts chance and skill.
Views from Chatreng Khamtsen temple in Shangri-La
One of the smaller temples within the Sumtseling Monastery (also called the Songzanlin Monastery and Ganden Sumtseling Gompa) that I visited was Chatreng Khamtsen.
The temple is on a lower level from the main assembly and the temple where I listened to the monks praying and photographed one particularly friendly gentleman. The flowers caught my eye as I walked down the stone staircase and after framing the image above with the temple’s main entrance on the right side, I went inside to have a look.
I found it to be empty of people while filled with murals, bronze statues and deep silence. It was a calm respite and I enjoyed a quiet moment to make an offering and light a candle for my family under one of the icons. The beauty and spirituality of Sumtseling is immense and I will share more from this most special place.
Working with clay in Ni Xi
A good friend and great photographer, Jorge Sarmento, and I rented a van and driver yesterday and drove out into the countryside. We didn’t have any set agenda so we were just exploring the mountains and valleys as we went. Our driver was a Tibetan and was from a small village called Ni Xi about 40 kilometres from Shangri-La. We found that out when we asked about visiting that town which is renowned for its black pottery which results from baking it in the kiln without any coatings or glazes. He drove us to his friend’s home who is an apprentice potter. When we arrived, we asked if he would mind if we photographed him at work and he had no problem with that. As we watched he created a tea-cup on this small wheel. It was great to watch him work with his hands and tools to shape the final piece. Along the way I learned that he was five years into his apprenticeship but I was not able to ask how long he would study under his teacher. I absolutely loved watching the craftsmanship and ease with which he worked. There was mastery in his work. The two men were smoking while the cup was being made which gave Jorge the idea to increase the volume of smoke. We had a puff of smoke blown in through the open window, with both men’s approval, which rolled and wrapped around as seen in this image. It was a great idea and elevated an already compelling scene considerably. Thank you Jorge!
Prayer wheel in golden light
The Dukezong prayer wheel lies in the heart of Shangri-La’s old town and stands over 24 metres tall (80′) atop Guishan (which translates as Tortoise Mountain). It is a small hill but along with this massive bronze Tibetan prayer wheel is adorned with two beautiful structures that are the main buildings of the Dukezong Temple.
I arrived in Shangri-La earlier in the day and went exploring with a recently made photographer friend once unpacked. We made our way to the old town, which is a siren’s call for most visitors to Shangri-La, and was charmed by the vibrant people and character buildings. Jorge needed a coffee and that sounded like a great idea. We retired to a second floor coffee shop which afforded a great view of the street and Guishan. With great coffee soon in hand, the clouds offered us a gift by parting to the west. With the sun close to setting, the warm light glowed on the wheel and the temple. The coffee was forgotten for a few minutes at that point in favour of photographing. A great start to my visit to this most interesting of places.