Day 73: Train to Lhasa – August 30

Being our last day in Xining, we really didn’t want to waste our last opportunity so we headed out to into the suburbs to visit the Tibetan Medicine Museum, and we were glad that we did!

Tibetan medicine is somewhat similar to Chinese medicine in theory and practice, but what really separates it is the ingredients it uses to cure sickness. Being on the Tibetan plateau, the plants aren’t as readily available so they learned to adopt to the land and used what was around. One extremely strange thing is that, they use a lot of strange things in their medicine. For example, one of their most expensive ingredients is actually a product extracted with extensive use of mercury!?!? Other ingredients used we saw were precious metals, fossilied bones, fur of snow cats, and a lot of strange rocks. You would think you were in a geology museum!!!

Within the museum were also medicine-tongkas which date back over 1300 years, and have extensive drawings of Tibetan understanding of the human gestation cycle and other diagnosis techniques which resemble the understanding of modern Western medicine! CRAZY! No pictures were allowed though, so we don’t have much to show for it.

Housed within the museum is also The Great Tongka, which is a 618m tongka which took well over 3 years to draw, and took one person 28years in planning. It depicts tens of thousands of stories, and if told 24/hrs non-stop, it would still take a couple months before you’d finish listening to it! The tongka was meticulously drawn and one of the finer pieces we’ve seen, and its sheer size is just hard to comprehend….

And then, we packed our bags and bought enough food to last us for the 24hr train ride, and we were on our way to the train station for a 7:45pm train to Lhasa!!!! We’re quite excited to head to Lhasa, as it seems like such a mystical place both for religious purposes, and for travel. Seems like everyone wants to go to Lhasa and with their own method, whether it be riding a bike or hitchhiking, seems like if you’re a traveller in China, if you haven’t been to Lhasa you haven’t seen anything at all. From the natural landscapes that surround it, to the infamous Potala palace, everyone has a story. So, pretty soon we’ll see what all the hype is all about =)


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