Saturday, January 15, 2011

XIAHE - Run to the Hills Part 1

January 12-13, 2011
Eng: Xiahe, Gansu, China 
Chn: 夏河,甘肃省,中国
Tib: Labrang, Amdo
Written by Em

Day 1
   Following a bit of bargaining and comparing various hostels, we settle into the Tara Guesthouse, run by the Labrang Monastery. The room is super clean and the shared bathroom/shower isn't too bad either. We head to the Nomad Restaurant which has a great view of the monastery and surrounding hills/forests. We feast on sweetened Tibetan milk tea, rice with raisins and yak meat, MoMo (dumplings), sweet and spicy cabbage and zucchini stir-fried with carrots.

Tibetan Momos

 Yak Milk Tea

Arabic Green Tea with dried fruits and rock sugar

   Xiahe is basically a wide main street with the bus station on one end and the monastery on the other. Since it's the early afternoon, we agree to walk the outer kora of the monastery. We start to hike into the hills and find ourselves next to a herd of sheep. The hills are high, but easy to climb. The view is stunning and the  atmosphere serene. We reach what we think is a sky burial site and rest for a few minutes before heading down the hills, back to the city.

   In March of 2008 and earlier this year, there were several protests in Lhasa and Xiahe concerning Tibetans' rights. Since then, internet access has been greatly restricted by the Chinese government; there is no wireless internet available in Xiahe. Only Chinese nationals are allowed to frequent internet cafés. We tried our luck and found an understanding internet bar that lent us a Chinese I.D. card so we could book an earlier flight to Hong Kong.

   We've decided to cut our journey west short. The weather is a bit cold and many of the sites are closed during the winter. Even though it's been over two years, we just can't get used to living without heat. Hopefully we'll be able to come back sometime in the summer and really explore this area. It's absolutely breathtaking and the people are more than welcoming. This is by far my favourite city. I can't quite explain the feeling, but walking the kora was one of the most peaceful things I've done. Even though we weren't praying, there was an overwhelming sense of calm as you walked around the monastery and up into the rolling-hills, surrounded by grazing sheep and beautiful views.

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