Stok Kangri Expedition – Day 5 – Thiskey Monastery to Shang Sumdo (3,800m)

Thiskey MonasteryFrom Leh, we drove along the Indus Valley to the ancient monastery at Thiksey. After that the plan was to continue our journey, turning off the highway to follow a rough road up into the mountains as far as Shang Sumdo (3,800m) where we’d spend our first night under canvas. Continue reading “Stok Kangri Expedition – Day 5 – Thiskey Monastery to Shang Sumdo (3,800m)”

Stok Kangri Expedition – Day 2 – Alchi Monastery

We drove for hours across a dusty and barren landscape which made up the Indus Valley. Our minibus was headed for Alchi Monastery a few hours up river and deeper into the Ladakh countryside. The Monastery consists of a small collection of monastic temples dating from between A.D.958 and 1055. Continue reading “Stok Kangri Expedition – Day 2 – Alchi Monastery”

268 steps to enlightenment…!

It takes 268 steps to reach the Tian Tan Buddha, the largest outdoor Buddha in the world, and I was about to climb every single one of them. The 85ft high Buddha sits on a hilltop overlooking the Po Lin Monastery seated atop a beautiful throne of lotus leaves. Enshrined within the image is a sacred relic of the real Buddha, (a tooth in a crystal container).

But before all that you have to embark on a 4 mile cable car ride up into the mountains of Lantau island. This ride dangles you over the South China Sea before providing you with sweeping views across the country park on Lantau island and then further still into the distance beyond and the outlying islands of the archipelago. Real lunatics can trek up from sea-level to the Ngong Ping Village and then embark on the leg burning ascent to the Buddha perched up high beyond, but that was a one loony step too far for us in the 90 degree plus heat of a sweltering South Asian noon.

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Gateway to the Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping village.

Having swung precariously for a good 20 minutes in the cable car we disembarked at the “specially themed cultural village” which is tacky beyond belief and somewhat spoils an otherwise exciting journey up. Always one to avoid such tacky tourist traps we headed directly for the great seated Buddha. Continue reading “268 steps to enlightenment…!”