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Pilgrimage: Among many other examples of cultural diversity visible all over Tibet are the hundreds, perhaps thousands of pilgrims on trails and roads all over Tibet slowly and arduously making their way to Lhasa, prostrating themselves full length on the ground, rising, taking three paces forward, and lowering themselves to the ground again to stretch out to the full, an action repeated thousands and thousands of times, on journeys that may take two or more years.
We came across one group of pilgrims who had been on the road from Chengdu, Sichuan (where the recent earthquake was) for 2 years, a baby had been born on the way - and they had an Australian budgerigar in a cage!!!! (Of which I have a photo of course!).
Another old couple - both in their 60s - let me pull their handcart up and over a pass at 4,884 metres! (I was interested to see how heavy it was).
Another family group had two or three family members at a time prostrating themselves along the road for 2-to-3 kilometres and then being replaced by others relay-team style.
Their hand cart was adorned with solar cells and a battery – there is no firewood at high altitudes of course, often no yak or cattle dung as an alternate fuel, and so to boil the water for their yak butter tea, they had an electric kettle! The hand carts contain a tent, spare clothing, a few pots and pans and not much else.
To protect their hands and chests from abrasions as they prostrate themselves full length on the ground they wear wooden pads strapped to the palms of their hands and a heavy yak leather apron.
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