Trashi is trying to pioneer eco-tourism in the area. He recently bought a solar powered heater that will provide hot showers in a recently completed guest house. Still, building facilities for tourists is a resource intensive enterprise: lots and lots of wood must be used.
April 10: We went today to a huge mountainside monastery, which was beautiful. We learned that you are supposed to walk around the inner areas in a clockwise fashion. I was amazed at how commercialized the space was: monks were hawking jewelry right near the statues of Buddha. I made an offering after one pressed a wood bead bracelet on me.
I observed some people bowing three times and prostrating themselves in front of the Buddhas. I later learned that this was considered appropriate, and that those paying homage are supposed to do this three times.
Later that day, our host mom took me to a dance hall type place across the street. We climbed a very steep Tibetan style wood staircase to a big lodge-like room, where dancers and singers in traditional costumes twirled and sang for Han tourists, who were seated on benches and were eating traditional Tibetan food, including butter tea, roast meat, and bread. The men wore blue costumes with parachute pants, and the women wore white outfits with white fur hats.
After the traditional dancers had performed, the tourists were invited to play games. They played musical chairs, and then had a karaoke session, after doing multiple shots of liquor. Then, everyone converged on the dance floor while rock style music played, for a frenzied dancing free-for-all. An old lady sitting next to me, a friend of my host mother's, pressured me to go out on the dance floor, so I did. I danced in the Western style, and soon found myself in a "dance off" with a Han Chinese man. It was very much like a scene in a Beijing club, except for the setting.
Later, seated around the fire in my homestay, I tried to converse with my host family about the experience. I pointed across the street and told my host father, "Wo qu zai (pointing across street)." My host mom filled him in on the details I think, so that was good. He laughed, so she must have told him about my dancing.