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Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Short Message From The Frozen Plains of Northern China

Dirty snow over the frozen plains of Northern China. Leaveless trees swaying, beaten ruthlesssly by howling winds.  Political banners extolling ideals long lost fluttering in the skies. Smog over a horizon of tall factory chimneys, pipes and barrels. All colourless apart from shades of grey and tainted white.
 
Rainbow colours and sunshine tempted me in my dreams last night.  The Equator is fifty hours away.
 
 
Wee Cheng
on location in Northern China
 
 
 

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bhutan site uploaded

Hey Everyone,

I have uploaded my Bhutan site - no time for travelogue yet, but the pictures and photos are up:

http://weecheng.com/asia/bhutan/index.htm

Kingdom of Bhutan 2006

Land of the Thunder Dragon

The Lost Paradise and legendary Land of Gross National Happiness

A land of traditions long lost elsewhere in the world, where the king and his crown prince are well loved; where people where traditional robes in everyday life, where archery is the most popular national sport; where the national dish is cheese mixed with hot chili.

Arrival - Dochula Pass - Trongsa Thimphu - Capital of Bhutan

Trongsa - Bhutan's largest dzong A House Puja in Phobjekha Valley

Punakha & Wangdue Phodrang Takshang Monastery (Tiger's Nest)

Paro Valley & Drukgyel Dzong Tsechu at Wangdue Phodrang

Tsechu at Thimphu Dzong Bhutanese Iconology

A Friendly People

A Friendly People

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Tsechu at Wangdue Phodrang

Tsechus are religious festivals typically 3-4 days long held in every Bhutanese town or district in honour of Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, who brought Tantric Buddhism to the Himalayan regions of Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Ladakh around 800 A.D.. Tsechus first arose in the 16th century and comprise of dances depicting stories of Guru Rinpoche's life and exploits, as well as moral tales and folklore. Bhutanese believe that by watching a tsechu, they gain religious merits. When tsechu is held in a district, public holidays will be proclaim and everyone dress in their best national costumes to go to the dzong to watch the tsechus. Sept/Oct is the period with the largest tsechus, hence the most popular time of the year for tourists to visit Bhutan.

Mask dance: Stag & the Hounds (Shawa Shachi)

-story of how the saint Milarepa converted a hunter to Buddhism

Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholey Moley)

- This dance depicts how two princess whose husbands went off to war flirted with a jester and then got their noses cut off by their returning husbands as punishment! An old woman who was supposed to look after the princesses also had her nose cut. A doctor is then called to put the noses back but the old woman stinks so much that the doctor has to use a stick. Finally, the princes married the princesses and everybody was reconciled. Moral of the story? Maybe one should not flirt when partners are not around!

Dance of the Judgement of the Dead (Raksha Mangcham)

- Another spectacular mask dance at the Tsechu. From this site: This is based on the Bardo Thoedrol (Book of the Dead), a text hidden by Guru Rinpoche and rediscovered later by Karma Lingpa (14th century). When all beings die, they wander in the Bardo (‘Intermediate State’) waiting to be led by the love of the Buddhas into the pure state where no sufferings exists. However, when the Buddhas who assume with their peaceful,and terrifying forms appear to greet them, the men who during their lifetime had no fervent adoration for the Buddhist Doctrine, do not recognize them as Buddhas and are frightened. As the men do not recognize the Buddhas and think they are enemies, they cannot be conducted into the paradise. The Buddhas, however through their various manifestations do not stay indifferent and perform good deeds unto the beings until the cycle of rebirth is complete.

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Officials with their elaborate boots

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Hundreds queue to be blessed by this icon

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