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6/19/08 – This was a day of adapting to the Ladakhi altitude / food / new world experience. In my journal I kept track of my experiences – both in the waking and dream realms. I mention this because I was sick (sore throat) and I must have napped off and on, because I have about half a dozen dreams jotted down. In one of my dreams I am wondering where to park my camel – go figure!
We walked around the markets of Leh. The guide, Namgyal, gave us a walking tour of Leh – its Muslim mosques, dozens of huge prayer wheels, the inside info on which markets to frequent (i.e. who owned them, the quality of the merchandise, where it was from – whether Kashmir, Tibet or Ladakh, etc).
There were dozens of fascinating sights – large stupas including one that we walked through and under, the minarets of mosques near and far, a monastery on the large hill overlooking the town. There were little stupas colored yellow, white and blue representing the three primary Buddhas. I believe the yellow represents Manjushri (wisdom), white is Chenrezig or Avalokitesvara (compassion) and blue represents Vajrapani (potency).
I really enjoyed spinning the large prayer wheels, the ones that are so heavy that one person can turn it with a lot of effort or several people can get them going pretty quick. They are on stainless steel poles which support it along with a hanging bell that gets “Clink”ed each time it rotates. Therefore you could always tell when we went by one because the bell would be ringing for several minutes afterward.
These prayer wheels were intricately painted, sometimes carved, always colorful with golds, reds and a large spectrum of the rainbow. Namgyal said that the large ones (5 feet in height) had over a million prayers in them, with the smaller ones having ten to one hundred thousand prayers. I have an aspiration to put a large prayer wheel in my house or elsewhere in Charlottesville.
In one of the Tibetan markets, I met a new friend, a Tibetan refugee named Tamding Tsetan. He told me his name meant (Tsetan, Tamding) the powerful lifeforce of the fierce, wrathful, horse-headed, mountain protector, hopefully that is not too far off. He was very kind-hearted and generous, sharing tea and a unique tasting lime drink with me on several occasions, not wrathful in the least as far as I could tell. I feel that he and I have some good karma, because he ended up showing me around the different Tibetan markets and introducing me to other vendors. I also hung out with him when the group left and I was in Ladakh for a few days longer.