Posts Tagged With: Gansu

Day 56: Aba (阿坝) – August 12

We popped open our tent door at 6am, the moon is still high up in the sky and the clouds are pinkish from the sunrise – it was very beautiful. But we were still tired, so we just went back into our cozy sleeping bag! At around 8am, we were waken up by the yelling outside of two little nomad boys that live in the mountains with their families.

Boys: “Hello.”
Us: “Good morning.” (not in a pleasant mood being waken up by yelling outside).
Boys: “Trekking pole, can you give?”
Us: “Uhhh, no. If we gave them to you what would we use?”
*boys walk away* Continue reading

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Day 55: Camping (年保玉则) – August 11

We slept in later knowing that there’d be a long walk ahead. The town we stayed in really has nothing going for it except for a rather famous mountain called 年保玉则. It is a sacred mountain in Tibetan culture, and it is also a great place for backpackers to take a 3-4 day trip through the mountains. Its lowest point is 4000m above sea level, high enough to cause most people altitude sickness! Continue reading

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Day 53: Cairima (采日玛) – August 9

After the morning’s interesting views, it was still early when we got back into town. We took a break, and actually found a buddy to go on the same route as us so we saved some transportation costs by buddying up with him, since it is common here to pay random people with cars to take you to places. It’s surprisingly effective, and so far every driver has been surprisingly nice, despite their sketchy looks! Continue reading

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Tibetan Sky Burial (天葬)

There are many things this temple is famous for, but the main ‘attraction’ here is the fact that this is one of the few places you can witness the Tibetan ritual of sky burial (天葬). I’ll let you wikipedia the details. Continue reading

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Day 51: Dari Village (达日) – August 7

We finally got a hold of the Tibetan family! Taking a 40min cab ride up winding roads into the mountains, we got into the 3rd village of this mountain range. When we got there, the family’s mother was already waiting for us, literally with open arms. She helped us carry our massive backpack!! When we got past her two family pigs and her guard dog, we got into her humble home. She treated us to some Tibetan specialities, yak-butter tea (酥油茶) and momo (Tibetan bread). The taste… is definitely something you need to acquire. Just imagine, putting about 2 teaspoons of butter into a cup of tea, and about 3 teaspoons of sugar. The strangest part is, they usually drink it with SALT! But as guests, they were used to us foreigners drinking it with sugar. It was very filling, is all I can say.

We wandered around the mountain roads in the afternoon, attempted to climb a ridiculously steep hill and realized going up wasn’t the hard part, coming back down was! Sixty degree slopes and loose rock is not a good combo. We headed back into to our Tibetan guest home just in time for some evening chores and dinner. When we got back, the kids were washing their hands from playing around in the dirt/mud all day. After washing until the water was black, the kid continues to wash his face with the black soapy water….. Oh, and this kid has a cold so for the whole time day and night, he had snot running down his nose. Sorta cute actually until he sneezes in your face…hehe.

The dining experience deserve a post of its own.

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Day 50: Diebu (迭部) – August 6

Heading back to the southern part of Gansu, we woke up early to take a bus at 9:40am, arriving at 5:30pm. It’s as if we’ve spent office hours riding on a bus!

Our original plan was to head out about 30km from town and into a village at the foot of the “Juggernaut”迦尕那 mountains (I made the name up, as the pronunciation sounds about the same hehe) and stay with a local Tibetan family which was recommended by Lonely Planet. We contacted them and got everything setup in the morning, and they seemed extremely hospitable over the phone! When we got into the Diebu town and tried contacting the family, their phones were turned off!!!!! So without any other alternatives, we looked around local hotels.

I don’t know how this works, but this place has some RIDICULOUSLY nice and clean hotels. For a town without much of a tourism industry (locals gave us a lot of surprised looks with our backpacks), the hotels are probably the nicest (and cheapest!) we’ve seen so far. The streets are also very clean and modern, like the whole city was built within the past 3 years!

Our current location!

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Day 49: Lanzhou (兰州) – August 5

Visiting the Gansu State Museum, we were rewarded spectacularly with the last leg of a country-wide tour of Li Zijian (李自健)’s masterpieces. Never heard of this artist before? Neither have I, but I swear this guy can draw so well, he may have overtaken Monet in drawing emotions from the viewers. The pictures are purposely taken with the frame in view, otherwise you would totally believe these are actually perfectly constructed pictures.

One on spectrum, he captures the perfect moment between mother and daughter, and the other he captures the rugged features of everybody he draws. From the perfectly captured light, face of each person, to the realistic draping of cloth and most importantly to the eyes that can tell a story on its own. His paintings can be categorized into themes, and he captures the human element in a true and raw form, generating emotions in the viewer like a strong photograph. The problem is, I don’t think you can even take pictures as nice as these…..

The museum was definitely one of the better ones we’ve seen so far, and definitely one of my personal favorites worldwide! To make the experience even better, extremely knowledgeable VOLUNTEERS were there to walk through each and every piece. Highly recommended!!

The rest of the day was spent shopping for first world necessities to ready us for the rural escapade up ahead! We’re heading back into the hills of mother nature next.
And for dinner? K F C babyyyy!!! Taking a much needed break from Szechuan and Halal foods….

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Day 48: Lanzhou (兰州) – August 4

During our desert camping escapade, an unfortunate combination of sand and camera resulted in a faulty point & shoot camera. The ONLY licensed place in the whole province to repair the camera was back in Lanzhou, so we took a bus at 7am and arrived at 4pm. We were in a rush and lunch was a can of instant congee….at 2pm! We’re running out of games on iPhone and books to read. Anyone got any recommendations for good games?

We managed to find a cantonese-style restaurant and had some dim sum! No disrespect to the local flavours, but sometimes you just miss what you’re used to eating… We also watched a movie, and we were the ONLY ones in the theatre. It isn’t surprising, as the tickets cost $70 RMB, and for a place where the average monthly income is <$2000 RMB, you can understand why nobody watches films in the theatre! The movie was People Mountain People Sea (人山人海), a stripped down, no-nonsense film about some harsh realities of life.

Now to the good, our hostel is pretty cool! Located inside an old factory area, this whole place is now converted into a ‘creative park’, housing dance theatres, advertising firms, and the hostel! Right now, you can hear the faint sounds of guitar playing and singing in the background as I sit here chilling with a beer.

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