Former MCC workers and international educators Bert and Martha Lobe can’t wait to show some of the countries where they lived, worked, and travelled. The Lobes have carefully chosen a collection of sights that will introduce you to mountains, temples, and monasteries in Hong Kong, Tibet, China and Nepal. Gain an understanding of Buddhism as it is practiced in these culturally connected but different countries. Notice the similarities and differences in the artfully constructed houses of worship. Enjoy astonishing mountain views in all four nations. Meet Ministry of Education officials in Chengdu and staff from a development and peace-building NGO in Nepal, stay overnight near Mount Everest Base Camp, visit two of the “Great Three Monasteries” and so much more.
Monasteries & Mountains: Hong Kong, China, Tibet, & Nepal
Monday, April 8 Hong Kong
Arrive in Hong Kong by mid-afternoon. Meet your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner and an orientation to the tour.
Tuesday, April 9 Hong Kong
This morning, walk the Dragon’s Back, a coastal trail with beautiful panoramic ocean vistas. Have lunch in the beachside village of Shek O, then explore the laid-back Stanley Market with an array of stalls, tiny shops, and temples. After dinner in the Stanley Market, enjoy dessert at the Peninsula Hotel with a stunning view of Hong Kong.
Wednesday, April 10 Chengdu
Walk through St. John’s Cathedral on-route to a funicular railway (with counterbalanced cars on a cable) and up Victoria Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island with views of Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and other surrounding islands. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for a flight to Chengdu, China.
Thursday, April 11 Chengdu
This morning, visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a non-profit facility where you’ll get the chance to see charming pandas and other rare animals. If there’s time, you’ll also go to Dujiangyan, an impressive ancient irrigation system built in 250 BCE and still used today to irrigate over 5,300 square km (2,000 square miles). In the afternoon, visit Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, a National Heritage site with a park and museum commemorating the Tang Dynasty peace poet Du Fu who lived in the 8th century and is considered one of China’s greatest poets. Explore the streets and markets of Chengdu, then join Ministry of Education Officials for a reception and conversation.
Friday, April 12 Lhasa
Board a flight from Chengdu to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet nestled in the Tibetan Plateau and surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. Meet your local guide, and head to your hotel for a rest while you acclimatize to the altitude.
Saturday, April 13 Lhasa
Potala Palace, the cardinal landmark of Tibet, was the residence of the Dalai Lama for more than 250 years until the current Dalai Lama’s flight to India in 1959. This massive palace stands 13 stories high and contains over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues. Visit this museum and UNESCO World Heritage site to learn about Tibetan history, religion, and culture. Next, visit Jokhang Temple, widely considered one of the most sacred sites in Tibet. Dating to the 7th century, this religious centre continues to be the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. This distinctive golden-roofed temple combines the features of Chinese, Tibetan and Nepalese architecture. Your final stop for the day is Barkhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa, full of local handicrafts including ornaments, tangka (Tibetan Buddhist paintings done on textiles), religious musical instruments, masks, and more.
Sunday, April 14 Lhasa
This morning’s visit will be to Drepung Monastery, located just outside of Lhasa. It is known as one of the “Three Great Monasteries” and is the largest monastery in Tibet. Once the residence for the Dalai Lamas prior to the building of Potala Palace, it continues to be a centre for learning, contemplating, and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. In the afternoon, go to another of the “Great Three”, Sera Monastery—where you’ll have the opportunity to see the monks debating.
Monday, April 15 Shigatse
Depart Lhasa on a spectacular drive through the Kamba-La Pass. Enjoy view of the highland Yamdrok Lake, one of the three most sacred lakes in Tibet, surrounded by snow-covered mountains. Farther along, see the stunning Karo-La glacier. At Gyantse, stop for a visit to the Palkor Chode Monastery, founded in the 15th century. This monastery’s highlight is its Kumbum, which contains 108 chapels in tiers. Tonight, we lodge in Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city.
Tuesday, April 16 Shigatse
Be prepared to be amazed as you head towards Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world! Rising 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level, Everest is truly impressive. Visit Rongbuk Monastery, located at the foot of Mt. Everest—considered the highest monastery in the world, and ranked CNN’s “Greatest Place to be a Recluse”. From here you’ll get spectacular views of Mt. Everest’s north face. For night, stay in a dorm tent near the Everest Base Camp.
Wednesday, April 17 Gyirong Town
Ride the eco-bus to see Everest from more angles as you gaze on this magnificent mountain in the morning sun. Continue your drive through the Himalayan mountains to Gyirong Town, in a region known as the “back garden of Mount Everest” due to its surprisingly mild climate and lovely vegetation.
Thursday, April 18 Kathmandu
Travel from Tibet into Nepal, a small country which was closed to the outside world until the 1950’s. Cross at Gyirong Port, an ancient trade route, and continue to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, an ancient city nestled in a valley between Nepal’s many high mountains. After arrival, settle in and explore the area on your own.
Friday, April 19 Kathmandu
Begin your last full day of touring with a visit to the Swayambhunath Temple, an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination also known as the Monkey Temple due to the holy monkeys living in part of the temple. One of the oldest religious sites in Nepal, this temple dates back to the 5th century and is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus. In the afternoon, meet and converse with old friends from the United Mission to Nepal, a co-operative endeavour which pursues development and peace among the people of Nepal who live in poverty, supported by Christian organizations from 18 countries. Over a farewell dinner, reminisce about this special tour with your travelling companions.
Saturday, April 20
Say goodbye to your new friends and depart for home full of memories.
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