Dege and the Printing House


My hotel room was nice, I felt like royalty and the staff at the hotel were lovely, I did consider moving to somewhere cheaper but in the the end convinced myself that this was a reward for having got so far. I ended up spending about 5 days in Dege. Half of my time was spent trying to get kit ordered online for the Gobi crossing where we were expecting temperatures of -30 the other half was spent relaxing and meeting new friends.

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On one outing I bumped into a fellow traveller he greeted my by saying ‘Dr Livingston I presume.’ I was a bit taken back at seeing another westerner so do did not have a witty reply. Perhaps one day I will be able to reply Dr Leakey actually. It turned out that he was not Henry Stanley but an Australian on an extended trip exploring the area for the third time. We agreed to meet later that evening and swap stories. He brought along his friend, a monk, who he had met on the way and I was treated to an excellent meal in a small local restaurant. We retired to the hotel and swapped some stories. He had been to the area a few times before and by all accounts this was the easiest trip he had had. Before he had been taken off buses and refused entry to different towns and questioned by the local police, accused of being a spy. I was shocked a little, I had heard reports of this type of thing happening, but had never had any problems with the police.

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The next day I met a French Film maker who was making a documentary about Buddhism, we agreed to meet up and I got treated to dinner again, He had been collecting film for years on different trips and still had away to go by the sound of it. My French just about got me through the evening but I was surprised at how rusty it had become.

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The main attraction of Dege is the Printing house. This has been around for over 500 years but was closed by the Chinese for a period of time after they took over Tibet. It houses thousands of wooden printing blocks of religious, historical, literature and art, medical, astronomical and calendar-arithmetical book editions in Tibetan.. I paid the 50 Yen entrance fee and started to wander around. You have to walk around in a clockwise direction, It is an interesting place and well worth a visit. I did not manage to get a look at any printing in action or at the printing room, just the library halls and the shrines to Buddha and some other important folk. If you find yourself here do try and find someone that can take you to the other rooms where the printing is done, as this will be by far the most interesting part of your visit.

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I left the Dege printing house and was encouraged by a local man to walk around the printing house. Some people do this every day and every time you walk past there is always a crowd of people circling the building. My understanding is that the more you walk around important places of scriptural significance the more credits you get, the more credits you have the better you are.

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The day before I left I searched every shop for a new bike tyre but as the staff in the hotel told me I was not likely to find one here, the next town would be Kangding a week away by bike. I had a spare with me so it was not critical. Later that afternoon the son of owner of the Hotel who I had made friends with asked me to go for a walk up to the printing house. He had been whizzing around on his bike in the car park of the hotel and knew I had a bike, so this made us friends. My new 8 year old friend walked up to the printing house with me very proud to be accompanied by his friend.

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On my last day I packed up the bike and was still looking for some cooking oil that did not come in a 5 litre bottle. The son of the hotel owner who was helping me pack up said he could get me some from the kitchen of the hotel, He grabbed the small coke bottle that I used for oil and came back 5 minutes later grinning and a full bottle of oil. After the bike was loaded up he said we should go to the hotel restaurant to get some food, I was hoping to pay a final visit to my favourite restaurant but I could not disappoint my little friend so we walked across the hotel lobby to the restaurant. The restaurant was empty except for a police man and a few staff. The police man invited me to eat with him, we chatted and ate and he refused to let me pay anything. The last thing was photos, suddenly all the staff had their camera phones out. 15 minutes later everyone was happy with their pictures of the hairy western man I said my goodbyes and headed out out of town. Ahead of me lay a 5000 m pass and I was assured it was covered in snow.


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2 Responses to “Dege and the Printing House”

  1. Laurence says:

    Hi Chris, Tashi Delek.
    Nice to have met you in Dege. Planning my next trip back for next February. Great to see the bears didn’t get you :-)
    Travel safe
    Laurence of Australia

  2. Chris Leakey says:

    Hey Laurance, good to hear from you. Yep the bears did not eat me. Rest of the trip from Dege was good, much easier, less snow but was really tiered by the end of it all. Still got some more to write about. Enjoy your trip back.


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