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Experiencing Kindness at Ta'er Monastery, Xining

I had some time before my train departed from Xining. After exploring Qinghai Lake, I decided to visit Ta'er Monastery.

Journey to the Monastery

I wasn't really in a hurry to get to the monastery, my initial plan was to get to Kanbula National Forest Park. When I got to the bus station, I found out that the park was closed (that's what they told me). I had to change my plans and decided to go to Ta'er Si instead.

I took the bus and wound up a bit far from where the taxis were that took passengers to the monastery. A taxi pulled up and waited for people to get in. I sat next to a monk and started a conversation in the little Chinese I knew, he didn't speak English. He asked me basic stuff like where I was from, what I was doing there and the like. He told me he was a monk at the monastery. When we got to Ta'er Si, he offered to pay my share of the ride and get me into the monastery for free (I must've done something good during this trip for good karma).

Normally, cars would be stopped at the entrance, but ours was let in after the other passengers alighted. The monk said something to the guys at the gate and I was in.

Ta'er Si or Kumbum Monastery is a popular destination, I was looking for more peace and quite here, but what I encountered were groups of Chinese tourists shuttled in and out. The monastery is the religious activity center of the Yellow Hat Sect of Buddhism, the complex was built in 1577 to commemorate the sect's founder Tsong Khapa more than a century after he died.

The buildings in this complex combine Tibetan and Han design. I found it impressive despite the crowds (although I still think the Songzanlin Monastery in Yunnan was more impressive). There are Buddhist halls, palaces, residences and temples just to name some places of interest inside. You'll need to show a ticket to enter certain spots (I didn't have one so I couldn't enter, but I was happy I got in for free :D).

The monks inside were easily distinguishable.

The place was a little too touristy but it was still a good day out before I left Xining.

How to Get to Ta'er Monastery

The monastery is accessible by bus and then taxi. Get on a bus from Xining Xinninglu Bus Station, tell the driver you'd like to alight at the stop to Ta'er Si, they'll know where to let you down. From the stop, you'll need to take a taxi. There are many shuttling passengers to and from the monastery, you can easily find other people to share a ride with, the ride costs around CNY15 each.

Entrance fee: CNY80

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