Horse Racing Festival

The 18th of the lunar calendar, it was time for Gasha village to start their three-day horse racing festival of the year. So, with the help of Shike and the village chief who came in to Langmusi to bring a lama back for a home praying service, I got in to the village just in time in the middle of that day.

The road getting there was just as bad as in my memory. Half way, the driver pointed me to a barely visible ruin on the hill. That used to be a fairly sizable monastery resulted from conflicts between one living buddha and those who managed his monastery in Langmusi. The exact detail seems to have quite a bit of variations depending on who was telling the story, but for certain fights broke out, builidngs demolished, and the living buddha was expelled north.

It was nice not to be among tourists for the horse racing festival. The riders decorated their horses with bright orange or green ribbons. Little pieces of white papers symbolizing good luck were thrown into the air in the batches, then came down the grassland like snow-flakes.

A bad quality loud speaker announced the go. People cheered and screamed, the horses flew out of the starting line and out into the make-shift circled field where desert-patched mountain hill can be seen in the not so far distance. It was a nice scene nonetheless.

The longest race was only 3000 meters, three circles. But there were many races. I filmed a few long shot ones and close ups. Everyone wanted to see what I see through my viewfinder. Among the onlookers, a monk with an expensive Canon.

At the break, I cruised the white tents where locals hang out for drink and food. People in one tent called me over so I did. They giggled more than they could talk to me. Two monks came in and someone in the tent offered to pay for their food. Without me knowing, one young man in the tent paid my soda, then asked me to take photo with them.

The Tibetans seem to like to have their photo taken, as long as you show them afterward. The two young men who walked with me to the open field put on a serious look when they were ready for their picture, then motioned me to sit in between them for another shot.

It got chilled pretty quickly as the day winded down. Very pretty light when the final round of the racing began. Even though I have no idea how these footage would fit in the story, I was nice to witness a real horse racing festival out in the pastureland.

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