Friday, May 25, 2007

Xiahe and Lanzhou

Day 6...

Travel Expenses
*** Total: 160RMB ***
Bus from Lanzhou to Xiahe: 45RMB (280km/6hrs)
Entry to Labrang Monastery: 40RMB
Accomodation @ Tara Guesthouse: 40RMB
Local Transport, Food and Others: 35RMB

*Overland Distance Covered So Far: 2,122km

Took an overnight train from Xi'an to Lanzhou, and from there i took an early bus to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, located at an altitude of 3,000m above sea level

Tibetan style room at my hostel

View of section of the pilgrim circuit from my room

Living conditions in the suburb

Streets packed with Tibetans and monks

~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Followed the footsteps of Tibetan pilgrims and took on the 3km long pilgrim circuit

The whole circuit consists of more than 1,200 prayer wheels of different style and size, and my right wrist was screaming with pain after spinning almost all of them! haha
~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Even kids do their part to keep the prayer wheels constantly spinning
~ View Picture on Flickr ~

And me too, hoping to gain some good karma! haha

Tibetan pilgrims
~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Beautiful golden prayer wheels
~ View Picture on Flickr ~

And it was really amazing to see many of the pilgrims prostrating the full pilgrim circuit, it is a wonder how one's faith can make one so determined

One of the giant prayer wheels where u have to walk 3 rounds around them, spinning them at the same time

They are even taller than me!

We also walked past a couple of stupas where u have to walk 3 rounds around them

~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Numerous small sacred temple built on the hill and are out of bounds to foreigners

We were also trying to interact with the pilgrims and monks along the way, trying to learn about them and their unique Tibetan culture

After the circuit, we went to the holy Labrang Monastery

Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, and home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region

Very beautiful temples and buildings

~ View Picture on Flickr ~

View of the town from above

Colorful decorations

A couple of lions guarding the entrance, Chinese influence?

Roof of the temples are usually topped with a golden stupa

Many different temples for different usages

Tibetan monks were practising their music and dance

~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Floor laid with rows and rows of carpets inside one of the temples

And many interesting decorations hanging from the ceiling

Brightly colored walls on the rooftop of one of the temples

We also saw various items that Tibetans used during their festivals and ceremonies

These sculptures are entirely made of yak butter, can u believe it?

And they are so detailed!
~ View Picture on Flickr ~

Cute Tibetan boy

One of the small hill overlooking the town, where u can see the large platform on the right where Tibetans will lay their huge Thangka during festivals

Thangka platform

Aerial view of the town

Modernisation has certainly caught up, and there is a internet cafe here too

And today is the day I officially graduate! =p

Dinner in one of the Tibetan restaurants

Win and me toasting with our yak milk tea. Win is from Myanmmar and I met him at Xiahe bus station, after which we have travelled together for the day

Tibetan buns

Cute boy who was running around the restaurant

Day 7...

Travel Expenses
*** Total: 319RMB ***
Bike Rental from Tara Guesthouse: 15RMB for 1 Day
Entry to Sanka Grassland: 5RMB
Bus from Xiahe to Lanzhou: 45RMB (280km/6hrs)
Local Transport, Food and Others: 75RMB

Overnight Train from Lanzhou to Jiayuguan: 179RMB
>>> Click for more trains details <<<

                ~ Train Code: T927
                ~ Type: Hardsleeper Upper Berth (Aircon)
                ~ Departure: 2200
                ~ Arrival: 0639
                ~ Travel Time: 08Hrs 19Mins (770km)

*Overland Distance Covered So Far: 3,172km

Tibetan streets early in the morning

Sunrise over farmlands

Roaming yaks

Rented a bike and cycled to scenic and vast Sangke Grassland

Welcome to Sangke Grassland!

Sheeps out for grazing

Local school still in construction

View of the grassland

On my way back, i saw a Tibetan pilgrim who was intending to prostrate himself all the way to Labrang Monastery, and in fact he had already been on the road for 2 weeks, and maybe 1 more week to go to reach Labrang Monastery, simply amazing determination!

Tibetan food with yak milk tea (much better than yak butter tea lol) for lunch

Took a minibus back to Lanzhou via small Muslim town of Lingxia, and people were loading vegetables, stocks and bike(!) on the top of the minibus

Drunk or just taking a nap? lol

Zhongshan Bridge built across the almighty Yellow River in Lanzhou

Vast Yellow River tamed by humans

Temples across the river

Many activities by the river bank, including some beach soccer actions

Statues of characters from the popular epic "Journey To the West"

Sunset over the Yellow River

Lanzhou train station at night

My upper deck hard sleeper bed for my overnight train from Lanzhou to Jiayuguan

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