A young Chicagoan's strange erotic journey around the globe
Kham Tibet (China)
On the road between Chengdu and Kangding we were involved in a two-hour traffic standoff trying to get past this bus on the skinny mountain highway too narrow for passing vehicles to get by each other.
Welcome to Kangding – part of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Kangding from the street of my hostel
Place where some residents of Kangding stay while they’re alive…
Place where some residents of Kangding go when they’re dead.
A whole mess of Lungta style prayer flags hung to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom that will be blown by the wind and carried into all the surrounding space.
Tibetan prayer flags come in five colors – the colors of the Five Pure Lights – and will always appear in the order of blue, white, red, green & yellow. Respectively, these colors represent the elements. In the same order they are sky, wind, fire, water and earth.
A hike up in the mountains
Spot where my Australian-born Chinese buddy, Boone – the guy flipping off the camera in this photo – and I posted up to crush some lunch.
As I ate lunch at the place in the picture previous, three non-English-speaking Chinese dudes walked up and non-verbally conveyed they wanted to take a picture with me. Their impromptu Charlie’s Angels, ready-for-action pose is impeccable.
Kangding as it appears on the descent
After coming down from the hike, I popped into a local place of worship known as Jinggang Monastery
As I wandered around the monastery aimlessly taking pictures, with a nod of his head, some Tibetan kid suggested that I follow him. So I did…
…and he led me through this wobbly homemade scaffolding…
…and up this makeshift ladder…
…onto a temporary floor they built Michelangelo-style to paint the ceiling of this temple.
Here’s the kid who decided to share this unique experience with me. For reaching out and allowing me to check out how they do, I’m eternally grateful.
Another steady-handed bro doin’ his thing.
Main work bench on the middle of the platform. The “floor” was made of overlapping pieces of plywood loosely secured to shaky scaffolding.
A space in the temporary flooring along one of the posts being painted offers a glimpse of the three-story fall I’d have taken if the sinky, barely-able-to-hold-my-weight, homemade platform were to give way.
The outside was being painted as well.
Fresh-ass paint job
I let one of the painters try on my shades
After being led on the painting tour, I wandered on through this hallway over towards the temple.
Mural covering the hallway on the left side and…
…on the right side.
Courtyard in what I think is Jinggang Monastery but don’t know for sure with the temple straight ahead
Bhavacakra or “wheel of cyclic existence.” I love the art in Tibetan Buddhist temples. See the next couple photos for a close-up of this shit right here and you’ll understand why.
Humans being tortured by man-beasts
Doggy-style childbirth. That’s how ruff-ryders roll.
Early morning partially frozen lake between Kangding and Tagong
Mini-monk scampering along past a Tibetan household with writing on the hill in the back left
Small residence in a remote town we briefly stopped at in transit to Tagong
Monk Jr. leanin’ up against the door lookin’ real fuckin’ slick in the background
More Tibetan locals posing against the same yellow home
Skinny bridge for cattle to cross the icy stream
Rosy-cheeked monk whose skin is already showing signs of being ravaged by the unforgiving mountain sun
Typical hole-in-the-ground toilet with no plumbing. This pretty much sums up my shitting experience in western China.
Handful of Tibetan kids playing in the village
Forever leaving my mark on this tiny town, I gave my whistling Vortex football to some kids who had absolutely no idea what it was or how to throw the thing.
Tibetan kids trying to jump in unison
Nomadic herders moving along through the seasonally brown plains of the Kham Tibetan region
Where our hired driver dropped us off in Tagong
Tagong Golden Temple up close
Tagong Golden Temple from afar
Pictured here are a few Tibetan prayer wheels. These cylindrical devices are often engraved with mantras and when spun it’s supposed to be as beneficial as saying the prayer aloud.
Buddhist bros n Buddhist hos spinning large prayer wheels on the outside of a temple. These also come in handheld sizes for the Tibetan Buddhist on the go.
My colorfully extravagant yet freezing-ass hostel without windows. There’d only been a thin cloth shade to keep out the cold.
Same room with the lights on
Wild pig snoopin’ around the river for a bite to eat
Rooftop prayer flag. In each of the corners there is a picture of one of The Four Dignities – the dragon, the tiger, the garuda and the snowlion.
Hill full of prayer flags near Lhagang Monastery
Assload of monks and nuns spreading good vibes through meditation at the base of the prayer flag hill
Meditator chillin’ in the grassy plains
On their way to join the masses at the base of the prayer flag hill
…three little almsgivers.
They’re quite serious about their religion around these parts.
Temple near Ani Gompa nunnery
Same temple, different angle. The faithful be spinnin’ them prayer wheels all day.
The roof of the temple in the picture previous is decorated with these calligraphy-adorned stone slabs.
Here’s a dude painting the slabs for the roof nearby.
The face of a slab-painting Tibetan man
Tiny village that houses monks and nuns
Village from close up
Scene from inside the village
Yaks are everywhere
Bricklayer puttin’ up a new construction with feral animals wandering about
Temple up close
Shaded monk (or nun, I can’t tell) rockin’ the handheld prayer wheel
A bird on top of a rabbit on top of a monkey on top of an elephant with an ear that looks like half of it got bitten off
Monk laundry hanging in the great wide open
There are so many stray dogs in Tagong that it’s not that unlikely to see them fighting each other over werid shit like the stretchy orange scraps they found in this picture.
There were stray cows wandering through the streets too, but I don’t know what they eat to survive.
It’s quite easy to mistake the residents of Tagong for cowboys straight out the 1800’s Wild Wild West…minus the motorcycle in this photo, of course.
Jackie Chan Shanghai Noon wannabes gettin’ ready for the showdown at high noon.
Me & Clint FarEastwood posing next to a guy who had a Chicago Bulls logo on his jacket. Despite my taking off my headband and trying to show the correlation between the two, the man had no idea what I was talking about.
The Chicago Bulls logo is surprisingly prevalent on articles of clothing in the far western Sichuan province.
Free-roaming yaks on a hike through the plains on my last day in Tagong
The monastery and temple from way the fuck out
Would’ve liked to have seen these plains during the summer when they’re not so dead and brown
Even in mid-October, it’s freezing up in these mountains. It’s also sunny as fuck and drier than a 100-year-old’s cooter. The mask I wear while holding this yak skull in front of my junk is to keep my face warm, save my skin from brutal sunburn and to keep the dust from the dry land blown by the wind out of my lungs.
Hard to see, but in the picture previous my wrists had been exposed while hiking and because of it I suffered a savage purple-tinted sunburn. The mountain sun of Kham Tibet ain’t nothin’ to fuck with.
While wandering through the plains, I was fortunate enough to come across this woman and her white stallion. When I first saw her, she’d been using a David & Goliath style slingshot to fire rocks at some yaks she was trying to transport from point A to point B.
Due to lack of public transportation between Tagong and Litang and my stubbornness when it comes to getting ripped off by shared taxi drivers, I chose to hitchhike. As you can see by the terrain of this winding mountain road with near-freezing temperatures, I had no fuckin’ idea what I was getting myself into.
The roads in Western China are super underdeveloped and prove to be a great contrast from the advanced cities on the country’s east coast.
After eating a hefty helping of airborn dirt kicked up by passing cars that refused to pick my white ass up, a Tibetan dude eventually scooped me up. Here’s the dirt road occupied with errant cattle as seen through my man’s windshield.
After about three hours of driving, the guy started falling asleep at the wheel and non-verbally let me know that I needed to drive. I tried to tell him that I didn’t know how to use a stick shift and he didn’t understand so I gave it my best shot, didn’t get far and probably fucked up his transmission during my noble effort.
Despite my manual gear fail and a fender bender with some some asshole driver who wouldn’t let us pass him when Mr. Sleepyhead reassumed the wheel, I made it to Litang in one piece. At 13,123ft, Litang is one of the highest towns in the world.
“AUTHORIZED HOTEL FOR FORETGNWERS”
Woke up early the next morning, headed out to explore the town and had been photographing this stupa when huge flag-waving crowds had been walking down the street and some dude smoking a cigarette said the word “basketball” and signaled that I follow him.
So, I ended up going to this outdoor stadium that’d been guarded by policemen holding machine guns. Worst “professional” basketball I’ve ever seen. Funniest part about it was when players got subbed out of the game, the first thing they did was light up cigarettes on the bench. No joke.
Packed to capacity crowd that would break into chants orchestrated by a cigarette-smoking enthusiast marching along the front row. I’m impressed how pumped he managed to get his people for this scrub-ass, pee-wee calibur basketball match-up.
Cheap “intermel” access is “arailable” at the hostel.
Litang’s residential area
I think Tibetans have got to have some of the most powerful wrists and forearms in the world the way they sit ‘n’ spin these prayer wheels all day every day.
House made for midgets
An inside look at a Tibetan home I’d been invited into by this woman who kept sticking her tongue out n seemingly licking her lips at me. Unlike what I’d assume that sort of thing means in the USA when accompanied by an invite into the house, in Tibet that sort of gesture has no sexual connotation and instead expresses modesty and respect to others.
Home defense system
Pig rolling around shattered glass in the middle of the street
Filthy, filthy water. The streets of Litang could use a solid clean-up
On the way to a monastery known as Litang Chode. I doubt that the Tibetan understanding of the word “chode” is similar to the English definition of “penis that’s wider than it is tall.”
View of Litang from the monastery
The Chode of Kham Tibet
Enter the Chode…
Support beams and posts raising the roof of the Chode
The original Blue Man Group
Litang street scene on the walk back from Litang Chode Monastery
I don’t like generalizing but, as evidenced by this kid’s hair, Tibetans don’t shower. Occasionally, I saw some people washing their hair in bowls in the middle of the street but readily available running water is hard to get up in the mountains so actual showers just weren’t happening.
Dirty-faced, snotty-nosed Tibetan kid
Little Tibetan girls collecting aluminum cans in the street
Serious-faced “we gonna kill you” Tibetan look
Tibetan happy face
Dude at the market who tosses chickens into boiling water right in front of you after slitting its throat but before plucking and butchering
Baby at a Chinese diner. I saw a lot of children this age in China with retractable trouser-asses whose parents would unbutton this flap, hold them out with extended arms and just let them dump and piss right there on the sidewalk. After a week in China, I stopped questioning whether it was the feces of animals or humans that I’d been stepping in.
Hitchhiking from Litang to Yading
Without getting into much detail, this set of pictures shows scenes that I encountered during my four different cars and thirteen hours worth of hitchhiking through the mountains from Litang to Yading.
Just me and my thoughts for hours on end. Not a soul in sight.
Probably should’ve stolen this horse. Would’ve made the trek much easier.
Some type of ruins on top of a hill
Broke-ass ruin where I took shelter from the sun and wind to eat some lunch
Boulders everywhere. Rockiest terrain on planet earth
Just more boulders as far as the eye can see
Kids who wanted money from me for being white as I passed through their small village
Big-ass stupa in Daocheng. Looks kinda fake and superimposed, doesn’t it?
Blue guy with blue balls and a straight-up boner going into what looks like a front butt.
Chyna the American female wrestler/porn actress getting ridden by a blue guy at a random temple I popped into.
Dude’s penis being ripped off with tweezers by a Birdman alongside a Dogface burning some chicks pussy with a flaming torch.Tibetan Buddhism – you so crazy!
Welcome to Yading Nature Reserve
In the light of the early morning
The north peak of Yading – Chenrezig Peak – 6,032m. The three main peaks of Yading Nature Reserve represent three Buddhist enlightened beings, or bodhisattvas as they are known. Chenrezig symbolizes Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Mercy.
As evidenced by the dangling icicles, it’s damn cold up in those mountains
Crystal blue persuasion
It just wouldn’t be Tibetan without prayer flags
Chenrezig Peak with different shit in front of it
Mani stones are rocks inscribed with mantras that serve as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism. Mani stones are often placed together and stacked as an offering to spirits of place as they appear in the shallow water in the bottom of this photo.
This place was too beautiful to not drop at least one SUCK IT while I was there.
Beginning of my quest to check out Chanadorje and Jambeyang peaks
Slowly but surely getting closer…
Dude, what fucking planet am I on right now?
Ice ice baby. The east peak Chanadorje (5,958m). This peak symbolizes Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of Wrath.
Chanadorje up close and personal
Baby deer? I have no idea what those are but saw them on the way to the 3 peaks.
Brutal uphill climb I was ill-equipped for with old, treadless-bottomed, worn-out gym shoes but roughed it out just to get a better view of Jambeyang
Reaching up for Jambeyang Peak – 5,958m. This peak represents Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom.
Jambeyang from afar. It’s shaped the same way I used to draw mountains on paper as a kid
Front entrance of Skinhead Hostel in Xiangcheng with two cute little bunnies painted on the door
Huge-ass room with ten beds and three couches I had all to myself. Only downside was videogame gunfire mixed with Adele’s “Someone Like You” on repeat for six hours straight blasting from the hostel owner’s overweight, loser son’s bedroom adjacent to mine.
I found someone’s diary written in Chinese in my room and couldn’t restrain myself from drawing a gay orgy on it…sorry diary owner.
Couple of Chinese brothers I met on the bus to Shangri-La. They were nice enough guys but had no idea how to throw down a SUCK IT.
Saw this dude ripping a bong in the middle of the bus station and not only had to take a picture but asked him to pass it my way as well.
When he passed it, I saw that it had been for smoking cigarettes which is kind of gay but I still had to give it a go anyway.
One of the terrible SUCK IT brothers takin’ a hit. These cigarette bongs seem so inconvenient to carry and smoke out of but are way more common than you’d think in southwestern China.
Stickin’ motherfuckers up with my Chiquita six-shooters and ten gallon hat at the bus station
SUCK IT bros. eagerly posing with the same bananas