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,
something with a little sculpture in it
this one from Bhadrapur
is the only one Ludke sent me
she was soon saying farewell to civilization,
and heading into the wild,
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,
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
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)
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 ?
it just keeps looking worse
it's time to turn back ?
Here's Monkey, Pig, and Friar Sand.
But where is Xuánzàng ?
(possibly he's been kidnapped,
up among the clouds
even ice can be beautiful
is that break in the mountains
up ahead ?
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 colorful and enterprising
preparing the pots for sale
it looks like the kilns have been busy
and so have the bead stringers
and let me share
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 )