After Garze, pass the guru praying in a field then navigate through a large temple with dozens of young men running around in yellow and red robes. Exit through the back gate they will unlock for you, ride your bike for a couple of kilometers along a single track of dirt and past a stupa. You will find a tiny and ancient temple set into the mountains, where an old monk resides with a lama and a couple of nuns. After purchasing eggs, as the nuns led me the long way around the temple to continue traversing clockwise along the outer wall, I return to my room upstairs.
The horses are below me, the other monk is the room next to me reading ancient texts and reading…I can feel the breathing of the walls all around me. Standing in cheap purple Chinese thermals, barefoot, teeth chattering and my arms wrapped around me. I have no other clothes as everything is wet after tipping head first into the hot springs a few hundred meters away. Silently, I slowly move my body along the concrete covered wood planked floors with my eyes examining every brush stroke along the walls. Reaching out to touch the colors and shapes, my finger tips feel the cold walls and the story begins to come alive in front of me. There are magical beasts, great spiritual figures, symbolism that seems familiar but from where…and when. I sense synchronicity with all the inanimate around me. Everything seems so quiet, yet so vivid and lucid. Am I the only one that can hear this…surely not…
"Hey…you" is whispered from a hatchway in the roof. Grounding myself, I look for Brandon, a cyclist from San Francisco I had met a week earlier in a remote Tibetan town, also on a Saga. I climb the rungs feeling every grain of bamboo in my arches and I am now at one of the highest points in the valley at the base of glacier topped mountains.
We say nothing, stand silently, faces turned upwards to the heavens. I begin to see the first stars of my own constellation. It would take years and thousands of miles to finally make out the Lone Huntress with her faithful chiru at side…eternally traveling northwest, the direction of the unknown.