Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center – Bloomington, IN

One of the last things I expected to see on the Trip Advisor site for Bloomington was a Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center. I have a slight bias towards Tibet because I had participated on a 15-day hiking and camping trip with some Tibetan ethnic minorities in China back in 2008. I wanted to work in Mongolia for the Peace Corps but that didn’t happen, so I can’t say much for Mongolia, but I was pretty stoked… and I finally found the time to visit. I guess the area had a sizeable Tibet-Mongolian population since there’s a Tibetan restaurant within walking distance of campus and I heard some Tibetan spoken at one of the coffee shops I visited.

It was about a 20-minute drive from IU campus and my phone’s GPS wasn’t saying the directions to me, so I was constantly glancing from the road to my lap to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Good thing the speed limit was 30 (or 35 mph) at the most since I was going through some residential areas or it would not have been a good idea. Along the way, I spotted Feast, an awesome little eatery that had good reviews and I made a quick stop for lunch before continuing on.

17

First thing’s first, the grounds of this place are¬†pretty big. Second thing: I don’t know why but it seemed like I chose the hottest day to explore outside. The buildings were familiar to me and there were strings of Tibetan (Mongolian?) praying flags hung around.

It’s an actual Buddhist temple are there are monks that reside on the grounds. I’m not sure if they know much English, but I encountered two of them. They smiled at me and continued walking up to this main building. They were holding a large pot of rice so I’m guessing they were preparing for lunch. I imagine they should because they hold classes and meditation sessions that people can join.

I walked around the grounds, looking at the stupas, praying wheels, etc. There were a ton of bugs flying about and, to be quite honest, the grounds weren’t maintained too well. Even so, I enjoyed my walk. I finally got up to the main building where the two monks entered. Here, you have to take off your shoes and it looks like it’s also a visitor center as well. I could see the main worship room within with the Dalai Lama’s large portrait hanging up (he apparently visited). I found it interesting that they also included various religious articles from other religions of the world.

Apparently, these are Americanized Tibetan-Mongolian monks, because when I was in China, there were certain rooms females couldn’t go into. Something about being “unclean” due to one’s menstrual cycle… not to mention how I was wearing shorts at the time and shorts aren’t appropriate. However, here, I was briefly welcomed in when someone saw me peering through the window and told that I was welcome to look around before left to my own devices.

It was a nice walk (and a good sweat) to break my mundane routine of working and walking back and from the hotel. Also, I got to get sustenance off campus! I sadly couldn’t visit the gift shop because they were at lunch, but it did make me think of fond and amusing memories of when I stayed in those Tibetan villages, eating tsampa, drinking yak butter tea… and not showering for days on end.

But that’s a different story.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Bloomington: What Exactly is There?

As predicted in my first post, Bloomington is a quintessential college town. Because I was there during the summer break, it was apparently a sleepy college town, as well.

Apparently, a lot of the places I frequented (way too many independent coffee shops, of which the town has in abundance) would have hard-to-find seats once school was in session. Although I was on a trip, I was still working, so I would wake up early and knock off a coffee place or other eatery on my list where I would set up my work station for the day. I soon became pretty comfortable with getting around on foot.

So comfortable, in fact, that I overdid it my second full day there and got blisters. Three of them. Needless to say, I wasn’t so enthusiastic to walk everywhere after that. See, I collect those Starbucks collectible cups so wherever I go, I try to find one to take back as a souvenir. I’m not much of a souvenir/shopping person, but I like those cups. Plus, they end up being my smoothie cup in the morning so it’s also practical, which is a must. I found a Starbucks on the west edge of campus but they didn’t have it so they said the ones on the eastern outskirts of campus may. It was only a rough 40 minute walk, plus the summer I was experiencing wasn’t as hot as Houston’s. I was confident I could do it!

I did… But I arrived looking (and feeling) like I ran a marathon. Long story short: I sweat easily and I had a backpack with all my work things and my 7-lb laptop. Either way, the highlights:

  • The campus itself is beautiful and very nature friendly. There’s a patch of woods right in the middle that there are trails that you can walk through. Other than that, there’s also an ‘arboretum’ on the north side.
  • They have awesome animals. And darn those chipmunks (which remind me of hamster-squirrel hybrids because this was my first time seeing them in person… no similarities with Alvin whatsoever) – I could never get a photo of them!
  • I love looking at the architecture. I just love old buildings.
  • The amount of independent coffee shops there was awesome. I LOVE INDEPENDENT COFFEE SHOPS.
  • Other than campus which is situated right next to downtown, home to some of the more popular eateries, there isn’t much else in the city.
  • There’s a small mall southeast of campus that I walked to after my Starbucks trek… and I continued past that once I walked through it (it’s rather small) to the Kroger.
  • Their Kroger rocks. They have a soil plot where you can pick your mushrooms. I love that mushroom plot and was intensely sad that I couldn’t buy any because I had no kitchen to call my own at the time.
  • There is a Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center about a 20 minute drive from campus! I may make a separate post on that.
  • Most of the ethnic items are on the north side of town near the main library. There’s also a boba stand, to my surprise. However, there’s a specific street to the west of campus where there are Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan restaurants all lined up together, which I found interesting.

Like I said: small town.

Even so, I found that I enjoyed my morning walks to wherever I was going. It was definitely an escape and I did a lot of walking… but because there wasn’t much to do in terms of entertainment when I wasn’t working, I would be thinking of the next eatery to try out. Basically, I didn’t quite lose any weight. It was nice to be able to explore one part of the US at a time.

And perhaps it’s a good thing there weren’t too many things to do or else I wouldn’t have gotten any work done, haha.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 1: Downtown Bloomington & Thereabouts

It was only 2 weeks ago that plans were finalized and now, I find myself in Bloomington, Indiana. I’ve never been up here before, which was what ultimately brought me here. The real reason why I found myself here was because Hubby needed to go for a program at IU.

Welcome!

On the way here, I sat between two men – one of whom was originally from a small town (or “village” as he called it) right outside of Indianapolis, the state capital.

Me: Do you have any recommendations?
Him: [slight pause] No.

Well, that was promising for my prospects for the rest of the week, especially since Bloomington is actually an hour’s drive outside of Indianapolis. I made a list of possible places to get food, as per usual (food is very important to me, you see). However, I didn’t find much online either other than for the Indy 500 in Indianapolis.

IMG_8996 Continue reading

Traveling through Post – II

Here is the second post on the next ten postcards in my collection…


It’s amazing the variety of postcards! Why is it that I’ve only been able to find standard-sized postcards in the States?? Alas, I don’t even have the artistic ability to make my own…

NOTE: I will be posting these TTP posts in increments of 10 postcards until I have posted up all the ones I’ve received. After which, I will post them one at a time as I receive them (and find the time to put them up).