From July 5-19 we were in Mongolia, and then for three days in Beijing. For the next several weeks, postings to this blog will be obout this trip.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
We flew to the Mongolian capital, Ulaan Baatar, from Beijing. On the morning of July 6 our first outing was to the Gandan Monastery, a Tibetan-style Buddhist monastery that is the only monastery in the country that was not destroyed by the Soviet-controlled regime.
The Gandan Monastery features an 87 ft high statue of a Buddhist bodhisattva, set with 2286 precious stones and gilded with gold leaf.
To get a sense of the scale of the statue, compare its legs with the worshiper in the foreground.
As in all Buddhist temples, the altar is bedecked with a profusion of gifts and artifacts, in this case including a portrait of the young Dalai Lama.
To the sides are statues of ferocious-looking guardians.
The inside and outside of the temple feature hundreds of prayer wheels, which the faithful spin while traversing the assembly in a clockwise direction.
The first thing one sees upon entering the monastery grounds is the profusion of pigeons.
It is considered a good deed in Buddhism to feed the pigeons - and it's obviously fun for the children and their parents.
Providing the feed for the pigeons can be a fair-sized business...
... or a very small one.