Xiahe...getting close to Tibet!
Xiahe Travel Blog› entry 9 of 16 › view all entries
Phew! 3 entries in one day! ill catch up in no time...
So onto Xiahe. This town while still in mainland China is 'more Tibetan than Tibet' according to Lonely Planet. With tons of Tibetan monks, Yak replacing all beef (yak burgers, yak curry, yak steak), some hardcore pilgrims, and a pretty impressive monastery, Id agree that in Xiahe youre basically in Tibet. Though the surrounding scenery, while pretty good, wasnt anywhere near as bleak and dramatic as Tibet. But its definately more Tibetan than Lhasa is nowadays! We were also starting to get pretty high by this point - 3000m above sea level. Still all grassland so didnt feel too high but apparently its higher than most European ski resorts. Also sadly there was a major downturn in hotel quality at this point...we were pretty spoiled in the first few places.
The highlight of this town for me was when a few of us decided to climb some of the surrounding hills, and obviously it was all about the view. Each time we thought wed reached the top, youd find there was another peak just behind that one, and it just kept getting better and better.
And this was the town where our path coincided with the Kazakstan truck again. On the first night there was more karaoke (there were some really REALLY bad renditions on display here). On the second night, in the hotel run cafe which always had at least few dragoman people, and was often completely packed with them (its where most people had breakfast, lunch and dinner) one of the drivers from our truck pulled out his guitar and became a human dukebox. And with the cafe full of two trucks worth of our lot slowly getting boozy there was lots of singing and some dancing and generally a really fun night. I really wish id gotten some photos now! A bunch of the tibetan guys who worked there unofficially finished work early and sat down and joined us. One of them kept getting up and doing solo renditions of tibetan songs while dancing up down the aisle with everyone clapping him along...it was awesome! There was even some Irish folk music at one point with an Irish girl from the other truck running up to her room and grabbing her mandolin (at least thats what I think it was), and playing really really well. Yeh it was a good night!
And on the last day most people made a day trip to some of the grasslands in the region. Again more great scenery (I guess by this point in the trip that kind of gos without saying) and a really old town with surrounding mud brick walls. If I remember correctly it was built about 2000 years ago by Han Chinese and ws invaded by Tibetans some time after that, and theyve been there ever since. We didnt see so many adults in this town but there were plenty of kids with weathered faces loving the attention. This definately isnt the first time theyve posed for photos!
And it was in Xiahe that we had the first of many problems with our truck (whose name is Archie). I think I remember hearing the Dragoman drivers are supposed to do 3 months mechanic training, so they were able to handle it themselves, but spent most of the last day trying to figure out what went wrong, and then waiting for a particular piece of machinery to be brought in. So yeh Archie pretty much died on this trip, but ill get to that later....