Location: Norbulingka

Today we woke up at 8:30 and realized that in the next two hours, we were going to be gone. The last two weeks have taught us about Tibet and gave us an opportunity to interact with children at TCV and our partner from the Mutual Learning Program. We ate and reminisced about how far we have come to know each other and the experiences we share. Afterward, we carried our luggage down the stairs for the taxi to pick up and then set off to the 300 steps. Although no one enjoyed climbing up the stairs, we endured with high spirits: this was the last time. Taxis picked us up at the top, and a bumpy one-hour drive to Norbulingka ensued. At arrival, everyone was too tired for any talking, and the group took a short nap before lunch. Food was served outside at the Norbulingka Cafe. Cheese Momos, Pizza, Spaghetti Carbonara (turned out to be just tomato sauce) were some of the dishes on the table. Right after, we took another nap, still tired for some mysterious reason. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was the sadness of leaving the monastery. After the nap, we visited the temple which represented the summer palace of His Holiness the Dalai Lama back in the original Norbulingka in Tibet, now destroyed.

During the quick tour, rain started to pour, so we hurried out. We then got to explore the rest of the Norbulingka Institute, where talented people created immaculate pieces of art. They hand carved wood and then carefully painted the wood to create beautiful 3D structures. Thongka paintings were drawn with natural paint in extreme detail. Women sew pieces of cloth together to create multi-layered art. One we saw was of a deity. Metal workers painstakingly hammered metal into intricate shapes and eventually into metal sculptures of different deities. Lastly, we visited an exhibit of handmade dolls. At a shop, expensive handmade creations were on sale but most settled for just looking around.

Back at the hotel, we began writing note cards to each other: written messages to one another, as many won’t ever meet again. We also wrote reflections on our service projects back in Mcleod Ganj. Dinner was at a great pizzeria, where we all consumed different pizzas until everyone was full. By the time we headed back, the sun has set. Jampa surprised us with a slideshow of our trip. Many were on the verge of tears. Soon later we watched a movie by Jampa of short videos throughout our trip. We revisited our awkward beginning and progression to where we are today. We actually watched the slideshow and movie again. The day ended with more note card writing and excitement for tomorrows five-hour car ride.