Episode 158: The Lhassi Club

Breakfast of Champions. We finished the day in Gyantse by touring the remarkable Kumbum, a 15th century temple containing “100,000” holy images of Buddha. Once again, the Kumbum was a building I was really looking forward to revisiting since exploring it in 2007.

Kevin and I spent the afternoon together walking in and out of the Kumbum’s 77 chapels. There’s so much to see and never enough time. Each chapel is distinct and full of statues, murals and engravings which conspire, to inspire, a total visual overload. In addition to it’s sacred imagery, the Kumbum is famous for it’s unique architecture. You can climb from level to level through passages and stairs in it’s center.

After we had all made our way up to the top it was time to move on and we stopped for a quick lunch. The group has become particularly fond of Lhassi, a cultured yogurt drink popular throughout India and up into the tibetan Plateau. It’s delicious, and through a series of inside jokes the group has created a Lhassi Club and declared Roger as President, an appointment that will last in perpetuity.

After lunch we continued on our way to Shigatse but took a nice driving break at a small Tsampa mill. Tsampa is a staple food in Tibet and consists of roasted barley flour mixed with salty yak butter tea. When combined, the flour and butter tea form a pasty dough. Most tibetans eat Tsampa at least once a day and, for some, it’s their primary food source.

Lobsang always eats Tsampa for breakfast and will expound upon it’s virtues if asked. He says it really sticks to your ribs and can give you energy to last all day long. There’s also obviously a real ritual in how everyone eats it. Tsampa is always mixed freshly at every meal by hand.┬áIt was a lot of fun to watch the barley flour be ground in exactly the same way it has been for centuries by water power.

Tsampa really is amazing. The only problem? It tastes like roasted barley flour mixed with salty yak butter tea.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 42:27