Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ludka's Journey to the West





This is my friend, Ludka
and this post is about her "Journey to the West"

(I think the man next to her is Jan, her son)


I assume she flew west instead of east to get to Nepal,
but even if she didn't,
these photos from her trip
perfectly capture what I was imagining
while reading that famous Chinese saga,
which I highly recommend to everyone


Ludka is something of a travel maniac.
She goes overseas at least once a year.
This is her third trip to Nepal,
and the first time she's gone there
without a guided tour.





This is the kind of picture
I beg all my friends to take
whenever they are traveling,



or maybe
something with a little sculpture in it


but regretfully,
this one from Bhadrapur
is the only one Ludke sent me



Instead,
she was soon saying farewell to civilization,
and heading into the wild,
dangerous,
and
demon infested mountains









This one looks pretty wild, doesn't it ?
I'm sure that an enormous tiger
is lurking nearby




I would call this tree a "sign post"
and its message ?

"this way to nowhere"






Did I say this trip was rough ?

There's no roads,
and sometimes not even any paths.

It's a world in which humans are very small
(and very edible)








and astonishingly beautiful

(just be careful you don't slip and fall)



beyond every range of mountains
is another range of mountains
.. only steeper
















Is this the right way ?



or maybe... we should go this direction ?




I assume the fellow in the red jacket is Monkey,
and he's usually right.
(he can can turn that walking stick, BTW.
into the size of a toothpick
or a telephone pole)




There are some rather daunting
rivers to be crossed



This is the spot where the travelers
were joined by Friar Sand


That's him helping the pilgrims over the bridge


Xuánzàng himself is the last to cross






and finally the crew
sets out across the vast deserts of central Asia



but even the barren wastelands can be beautiful....



though lonely places,
a vast emptiness,
broken only....






by the occasional flowers





artfully arranged into a rock and flower garden
by a traveler who had passed here before.








But these barren hills are not completely uninhabited






Here is Xuánzàng approaching a habitation
(if only he knew what was in store for him!)



this appears a quiet peaceful village

where nothing much has happened for the last
thousand years or so


what's there to do up here
except feel the sunlight
and breathe the fresh mountain air


and these would appear to be cattle
peacefully grazing


Oops -- where did that telephone pole come from ?
(or maybe that's Monkey's toothpick ?)









But I wouldn't knock on that door if
I were you






and I think whoever (or whatever)
lives here
is best left alone




and it's time to walk back down the hill



and set out for your next destination,
the snow-capped mountains




not very inviting,

is it ?


and
it just keeps looking worse



maybe

it's time to turn back ?




Here's Monkey, Pig, and Friar Sand.
But where is Xuánzàng ?
(possibly he's been kidnapped,
yet again)









up among the clouds





even ice can be beautiful





is that break in the mountains
up ahead ?





Yes !

Our friends have stumbled into
a hidden valley







and at the bottom,
have discovered a lost civilization



where people grow food
(instead of eating travelers)















and they are charming




and gentle






and colorful and enterprising



and industrious










and creative

and meditative



preparing the pots for sale



it looks like the kilns have been busy


and so have the bead stringers












and let me share
a secret
with all you pilgrims



The reason why this village is so peaceful ?

It's guardian deity
is the sacred monkey himself

(we'll leave it to ethnographers
to find a connection between Hanuman
and Sūn Wùkōng )













































1 Comments:

Blogger marlyat2 said...

I'm glad we could go on this rough journey in just this sort of way!

November 02, 2007  

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