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We just returned from an amazing week in the Tibetan highlands. Tibet has always been a separate country before 1951. China however took it over after this date. The whole region of Tibet has been divided into the province of Tibet and parts were attached to the provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. Visiting the current province of Tibet is all but easy. A permit will only be given when you travel with four people of the same nationality, manage your own transport and get a guide. And yeah, where on earth will I find 3 other dutchies who want to go there with me at the same time? Exactly.. The alternative is visiting the Tibetan highlands which now belong to Sichuan or Qinghai. And ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what we did! Our itinerary; from Chengdu to Ya’an – Kangding – Tagong – Highland (4200+, forgot the name) and the same way back. The things we encountered on the way were incredibly beautiful. Because I really couldn’t make a proper selection of 10 – 20 pictures, I decided for once to upload 50. Enjoy…
As an exception I will write this blog to my non-Dutch friends. It was just to beautiful not to share
From Chengdu we took the bus to (non impressive) Ya’an. From there we went to Kangding. Kangding is located at an altitude of 3200 meters. Doing some hikes and get used to a bit of the height is a perfect start of your trip!
The whole village and everything around it is being decorated with Tibetan prayerflags. They contain prayers for the gods. They have seven different colours, which all have their own meaning. Tibetans believe that as soon as the wind blows around them, the prayers will ascend to the gods.
Because of the high altitude, the forrest is covered with fog most of the time. Ideal for this moss to grow; spooky!
As soon as you reach the top of the mountain, you will encounter beautiful grasslands. Semi-wild horses are running around on them.
Every now and then the fog cleared and you could clearly see the horses run around.
I took to hostel’s dog to accompany us
The mountaintops of Kanding are almost permanently covered in fog.
Everywhere you will find the remains of old Tibetans farms.
And every now and then a large frog xD
In the evening power went down; perfectly fitted the ambiance :p
The next day we took the ‘cap’ to the next village; Tagong. Two hours of beautiful scenery.
Big mountains and green grasslands
Tagong is a super small village, maybe 100 houses together, located in between the grasslands. There is one square on which two hostels are located.
The grasslands are extremely green and the sky is extremely blue. Tagong is located at an altitude of 3700 meters. And you will notice that; altitude sickness. All four of us suffered headaches.
And there he is, our big friend on the grasslands; the yak!
Yaks die as well, skull are scattered around the place.
Cooling down in the mud. If there are no clouds, the temperature can get pretty high. You will burn alive btw, the atmosphere is less than half the size here and there it blocks even less UV radiation.
The view over the grasslands was incredible.
Another yak! *1 keep this one in your mind for later!
We all enjoyed walking in these beautiful fields.
The locals prefer a ride, tho!
Beautiful views. The is also much bluer because of this smaller atmosphere.
Arrived at the monastery we indeed found out again that the locals prefer to drive; we almost got hit by the high speed moving monks.
This was the monastery we visited. Only monks allowed!
Afterwards we arrived in another small village. On the right you can see their hospital.
The village is covered with colourful sanscrite placates.
‘In the evening fortunately a delicious meal was waiting for us; all sorts of yak-cheese and mokmoks (dumpling filled with yakmeat and vegetables)
The people from the hostel know nomads living in the mountains. We could visit them. The next day they picked us up in the village. We rode horses (6 hours) to reach them. The whole evening before it had been raining, and therefor the rivers were flooded. The first challenge awaited us: crossing these rivers by horse. OMG. This was so scary. I never rode a horse before, and without any explanation we had to start with this.
But we managed to survive, yay! Ready to go!
The journey started next to wild rivers.
That was what I liked so much, untouched rivers, just flowing wherever they want. Where on earth can you still encounter this?
Chilling on my horse.
Chilling at the top!
Eventually we reached the highlands and there again they were; the yaks!
The highlands were beautiful again!
We stayed with Loma, a Tibetan nomad. She lived with her husband and tree kids in a homemade tent on these grasslands.
Their yaks are just enjoying life as you can see :p
This is part of their stock.
The small wants are allowed to stay with them in the tent.
Loma took care of our food as well. Delicious yak-milktea and jak-yogurt.
This is her oldest son.
This photo isn’t the most sharp one, but it perfectly shows our situation. Sleeping all in between the little yaks. All night they were eating grass. At around 6 all of a sudden I heart a very low noice and thought; hey that’s weird. I took a look and all of a sudden I see a huge ass mother yak standing 30 cm from my bed. OMG! She sneaked in. A small yak had pooped on my bed as well xD
Our brekkie: yakmild with flour and yak butter. Mix quickly with your hands and enjoy your meal…
After breakfast we had to say goodbye to Loma and her selfwoven tent again.
Getting back wasn’t that easy as clouds covered the hilltops which we figured we could use for orientation. The road was still extremely wet as well.
Enjoying the mud.
A final cross.
And then finally we made it back to the hostel, were we tired, but satisfied ate our last yakmeal.
As you can see this was an extremely cool trip. By far the most impressive from what I have seen in China. I consider it super weird that this region isn’t mentioned in the Lonely Planet as highlight. It might be too hard to reach, or primitive. But maybe that isn’t that bad. This way it might keep it’s original shape and doesn’t turn in some kind of touristic place. If you wanna go yourself, don’t hesitate to contact me!