Hope you are all very well! I came to Chengdu on September 10th to meet Akong Rinpoche and to start our yearly ROKPA- project trip from here. This year its beginning was exceptional as we were first invited to a grand Anniversary Festival: 50 years Yunnan! We flew to an unearthly beautiful place rightly called Shangri-la in Yunnan. (This where the famous tea comes from - strangely I found many shops selling Yunnan Coffee and hardly any tea - I guess this gets shipped abroad!).
We were the guests of the Local Government and were treated as grand VIPs! This is thanks to Akong Rinpoche who has intiated a number of ROKPA projects in this Province. The Hotel was magnificent (no one drunk in the corridors - no one screaming outside at the dead of night or smoking in your room - the shoes left outside Rinpoche's room (one
takes them off out of respect) - disappeared instantly in order to be returned sparkling and near-new 10 Minutes later - fruit was brought to the room daily and the food was delicious). But the absolute highlight were the performances which seemed to be going on day and night for days. We sat in a stadium seating 30'000 and watched 3000 Artists (yes, three THOUSAND!!!) march and dance and sing and doing acrobatics and showing off thousands of different national costumes ( an explosion of colours!) a celebration of such extraordinary dimensions that a simple Swiss girl like me was - as a wonderful teacher of mine says:totally overwormed!
Finally I saw what I had seen on films but had been yearning to see life for many years: the acrobatics of the
amazing Tibetan horsemen - and -women! In a mad gallop they picked up Scarf after Scarf (Tibetan Kataks) from the ground - bending away from the horse in full control of their equilibrium! - and - racing by a bull's eye shooting the arrow straight into its center - and - whizzing by balloons on high stands - throwing darts at them and exploding every single one of them - and -most amazing: men sitting on 2 galloping horses racing close to each other
holding more men on their shoulders and these again hold a frail beautiful young girl on top of the pyramid! Can you imagine it? I was astounded and my heart was singing at so much grace and perfection! And - oh yes - I did not mention that all this was happening in the pouring rain! The whole huge performance went on for hours and as soon as it was all over - the rain stopped.
Then we were treated to one of the best ethnic performances I ever saw with such a cacaphony of sound and light
that my brain and heart was laughing. I so wish I could share these impressions with you and will try to do a bit of this with some pictures. Once all this was over - we did not come here for fun - after all! - we visited all our projects in Yunnan: schools and a Monastery high up in the mountains - such peace and beauty! such serious study and peaceful meditation! - such poverty. Rinpoche is re-introducing the Tibetan language and culture into this province. It had nearly totally disappeard and also thanks to ROKPA's influence the street signs are written also in Tibetan and in the schools we sponsor the Tibetan language is a must. The children are learning it and now they are even teaching their parents. We made many new contacts during this festival and hopefully more interest for our work will result.
Yunnan was not really cold and has a gentle and sweet atmosphere. It was a soft start to the harsh trip that is bound to follow. Tomorrow we leave Chengdu - where we had a few days to sort out projects here - at 6 am and have a 12 hour drive to Ngaba Dzamthang in East Tibet. Bye clean bedsheets and hot baths, bye internet from my room and Pizza at the nice place nearby - byebye Chengdu Town with the maniacal traffic,pollution and noise outside my window and hello snowmountains and bad roads and noodle soup and pigs' feet and chicken claws and
snake's insides.... Tomorrow we are off to the real thing! I will write again. Meanwhile - be well and happy and remember ROKPA! and remember us all while we remember you and your gracious generosity and kindness.
With regards and good wishes from Lea (Wyler)