At Youning Si monastery outside Xining, small temples are perched precariously on the face of a mountain. They seem almost to cling to the rock, as if afraid they could at any moment slip and slide down to the road below. As you ascend from one temple to the next, you leave behind the fresh paint of recent renovations. Higher up, the temples’ faded paint betrays the monastery’s long history. In these upper reaches, we met some of the friendliest and most curious monks of our tour through Tibetan Buddhist sites in Gansu and Qinghai. One asked us for American dollars or coins because he collects foreign currency. Another whispered to us urgently about the friendship between the U.S. and the Dalai Lama. And when we finally thought we had reached the top, we saw perched above us another monk, carrying a bright yellow umbrella and staring frankly down at us.
This is the latest in a series of (mostly) weekly slideshows spotlighting places I’ve been on my travels, in China and beyond. You can view more of my photos at Picasa and Flickr. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my RSS feed for more tips and stories about traveling in China.