In addition to the traveling, hostel life is very interesting. I room with a Frenchman who was originally here to study calligraphy, an Englishman in the video game industry, an American w0man who volunteers for the Peace Core as an English teacher in western China, and a Zhōnggúorén (person from China) who speaks no English and has been kind enough to offer me small packaged pieces of unidentifiable food from his province. In a conversation about the food, I knew only enough Chinese to understand that it was not sweet, a little spicy, not chicken, not pork, not beef, not lamb, and not fruit. Once I exhausted my Chinese culinary vocabulary, I had little else to do than eat it. I enjoyed it. When I told him it was “hao chir” (good to eat), he piled more into my hand and pointed to the bottom of his bag that was swimming with the little packets. I enjoy sharing a room.
Today, I visited the largest lamasery, where Tibetan temple architecture is framed by figures of tourists lighting incense in fire bins. I hope to get pictures up soon, though the biggest role of monks at the temple – from what I, a westerner, could tell – was getting in front of tourists’ cameras and requesting, “no photo.” I wonder if they realize that angry monks make good tourist pictures too.