Published: December 9th 2007December 9th 2007
Friends through silence
So yesterday I caught a bus very early from Xining to Xiahe. I woke up at 6am and was out of the hotel heading to the bus station by 6.30; it was freezing cold. Some how I managed to navigate my way to the right bus and stood around waiting for the driver to come and load our stuff onto the bus. Once all the gear was loaded and we started getting on the bus an argument broke out between the driver of the bus and a family of Tibetans, something to do with not having enough tickets. There was the grandmother, grandfather, mother, father and two small boys probably about 7 and 5 years old. In the end from what I could gather, they only had three tickets. What happened next blew me away, as the bus driver told them that only three could hop on, the oldest of the little boys started pushing his grandmother and grandfather onto the bus, and then once they were on board grabbed his mother by the hand and told her to get on the bus. Once all three were on the bus he grabbed his little brother's hand and
went and stood next to his dad. I was so moved, especially considering there is only one bus daily to Xiahe and this was it. I wanted to go anad buy them tickets, but as the bus started to fill I realised that there was no room. I boarded the bus, sat in my seat and watched them walking away from the station as the bus loaded with more cargo.
What I didn't know was that 5 minutes down the road after we pulled out from the station we would pick them up and they would pay the driver 50yuan. So in the end, the whole family were travelling together. Happy ending! This stopping on the side of the road and picking up other paying customers continued throughout our journey and at one point we had about 60 people with bags, buckets, carpets and boxes, on a bus with 40 seats. Cramped is not the word.
It was a 6 hour bus trip and after 4 hours my ass was really sore, luckily at this point we stopped at a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere and I was able to get out and stretch my
This is the boy who pushed his grandparents and mother onto the bus, and then while ont he bus sat staring at me.
legs a bit. Soon enough however, the bus was off again for another two hours. But the trip itself was amazing, the scenery we passed through was breathtaking, at the beginning as we climbed we passed through valleys surrounded by steep mountains, and it was here taht I saw my first Yak! Then as we climbed and passed over the top of the range we came out onto these massive grasslands surrounded by huge mountain ranges. The scenery was made all the better by the fact that after about 3 hours the smog disappeared, no pollution! There is still such a place in China! As we travelled through these grasslands we would come across a small village in the middle of nowhere, villages here and there dotted all over the countryside.
Also adding to the magic of the bus trip were the people, mostly Tibetan and amazingly friendly and respectful (a quality most Chinese know nothing about, it is either disdain for people lower than them or fear for those higher than them, not respect). For most of the trip the oldest boy who had pushed his grandparents and mother on the bus sat on a bucket in the
aisle, staring at me. Constantly. It freaked me out at first but then I said hello and smiled and he smiled and said hello back, I took his photo on my camera and quick as a flash he was over to look at it: he had done this before. When we arrived in Xiahe, my backpack had been taken out of the bus and the boy's father was holding it and as soon as he saw me he motioned for me to hop in the bike/tractor thing, I politely declined and he helped me put my backpack on. It was a completely different feeling to anything I had experienced in China.
I walked through the main street of Xiahe trying to find my hostel and immediately got a good feeling from the place, the people looked different, they reacted different and it gave off this amazingly warm vibe. I felt so happy to be here. I found the hostel, which is cheap and run-down but reasonably clean and it has warm showers, done. I put my stuff down and headed back out into the street and wandered around the markets near the monastery, looking at all the amazingly beautiful
Tibetan handicrafts. I found a good restaurant that served Tibetan noodle soup with pieces of meat, and some Tibetan dumplings and then headed to the internet cafe, which was full and hence why this blog is late.
More surprises coming...
There are more photos below