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Quite a while ago, Professor Mowry (Mao Lao Shi), my Chinese 1 professor, encouraged me to go on the LSA+. One of her arguments was the trip to Tibet. She said it was a unique opportunity to get in touch with a culture inside of China that is not what we traditionally think of as 'Chinese.' It is also a chance to verify that China is indeed a plural country, not the homogenous place we tend to think of in the West. After taking said trip, I must say I agree with Mao Lao Shi.

Gui and his friend posing in front of a blue lake.
My friend Katie and I near the bluest lake in the world.
Tibet is a region with a complex past. The relationship between Tibet and China dates back to the Tang dynasty, when a Chinese princess married the Tibetan king. Since then, a tradition of cultural interchange unrolled. Even then, Tibetan culture is still alive and truly distinct. With their own language (Tibetan) and religious practices with the many sects of Tibetan Buddhism, there is a lot to discover up on the mountains.

             

A yak in Tibet
Yaks are a real symbol of the Tibetan plateau.
Tibetan food is one of a kind. With such high altitudes, not many animals can be farmed. Yaks are naturally adapted to those conditions, and therefore form the basis of Tibetan diet. Yak milk, cheese and meat were all present in every one of our meals. The taste is very unique, and I for one really liked it. The thin air of the mountains can make you sick very fast, and I found the heavier food helped in dealing with this problem.

Our visits centered mostly around the many temples of Tibet. I had seen Buddhist temples back in Brazil, and they always sparked my interest. However, my previous knowledge did not prepare me for Tibet. The temples' air is thick with incense, and the small spaces in them made me experience a mix of coziness and claustrophobia. The many statues that adorn the chapels may cause discomfort at first, but after a closer look and better understanding, one quickly finds themselves entranced by them. I had many good spiritual experiences in these chapels, and gained a newfound admiration for Tibetan Buddhism.

Was Mao Lao Shi right about this trip? Definitely. I gained a newfound understanding about diversity and multiculturality in China. I also discovered a small paradise in the mountains, where despite any hardships people are always friendly and warm. The air of Tibet may be thin, but it definitely got me hooked!

Gui posing in front of a large stone monument
Look, mom! I'm on the roof of the world!

All the best to you, my Yak-lovers,

Gui '22

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