Published: June 13th 2012June 13th 2012
Where to start…I feel I have done so much since my last update.
Plans changes at the last minute as everything here. I was supposed to go to Herzou and Linxia and from there go back to Xining, where I left my big bag. Many people told me that had bad experiences in Herzou. A place where the local police nicely and politely invite the foreign to leave the town. For other tourist Linxia was a city that is not welcoming tourist either. He was not able to find a hostel or hotel that accepted tourist. Here there is not such a thing as truthful resources for tourist information. As I did not wanted to go over the places that I have already been I decided to go south and take the long way back to Xining.
I liked to learn that in rural areas people collect poop animals to do dung that use to light fire in winter. I saw around black pyramids of earth and I wonder what they where, and that was the answer. Local people sell and make a lot of money with this. But the top source of income these days is the caterpillar fungus harvest. Is a medicinal (Chinese and Tibetan, and it has to be proven yet that works for western medicine) small thing that cost 80Y per stick. People are drying this everywhere. Now is the high season. With the money they get on this during this months many families leaves the whole year around. Is the Himalayan golden thing and it is causing that many families fight and some communities enter to big land fights. They say that is good for cure cancer, fatigue, is aphrodisiac, and it has many more benefits. People do teas or leave them in clear wines also to use as medicinal treatment.
After 6 hour drives in a bus full of Israelis, and other foreign, I got to Songpan. I found it is a very touristic and a town that it was recently rebuilt. Not much of the original wall stills there. But I loved it. I was able to recharge and being pampered for a while. I met a local craft person that was doing jewelry on the street. He made me a silver ring in less than 10 minutes. There was a Chinese person that speaks English and I had the chance to go deeper and a have a long conversation with Mr. Tang, my jewelry artist. He explained me many things about their culture. He confessed he treat different his son from his daughter. Because his son, he said, is his treasure and his hope for his future. So he gives him more snacks while her girl will get married and he will lose her…He is eager to go to big town, for him a success is having money and being able to have a good future of his kid so him will take care of him. He likes to be independent and works in a small table in the street. He does not want to have a store because he will have to pay more taxes. The people already know him. He serves the 4 ethnic communities in Songpan so he has insights on the meaning of jewelry and symbols of every community. He knows for example way you should rings in each finger for every community. And definitely he told me I should not have a ring in the finger next to the thumb is bad luck! My rings look like an engage ring, I was not expected to receive it from Mr. Tang, but it looks great! And I witnessed the whole process of making.
Then I was going back to my hostel and I was intercept by a couple of Hungary desperate because they could not take money from the ATM. They have not dollars or Euros just money from Hungary…there said they where not able to pay the bus to Chengdu. They asked me to please borrow them 200Y (around 30u$) I was short in money as well…They look at me and insisted. What should you do if you where me? I knew that it was loosing 30u$. There are many bus stations in Chengdu and they were taking the cheapest one at 6 am…I was going to take the 7 am…so no really chance to see them back. Anyway, I could not say no. I gave them 30u$ knowing that I would probably was full by them, and went to have dinner with a couple from Switzerland, (the last group that was able to enter to TAR-Lhasa) and my roommates from Germany (a doctor that came here to do his practice and he gave up after two month of trying to be taking into account in English in his hospital). The Swiss told us their amazing experience in Tibet, their highlights and the lowlights. For some reason I feel that Gods did not wanted me to be there…He knows I will not be able to stop shooting, and it is completely forbidden.
From Songpan I took an early bus to Chengdu. It took 7 hours. But they seemed to pass so fast. I reconnected with my book. The one I left because it was starting to be quite sad. It is becoming a political drama, and I was just during the 7 years of the cultural revolution. I cried the whole time. It was quite embarrassing. The Chinese guy next to me felt sorry I guess. I could not stop reading. I advance a lot and I am in chapter 28. I spent 4 packages of Kleenex…I noticed the road was rebuild after the earthquake that area suffer some years ago. Now has many tunnels. So instead of 10 hours you can do the same ride in 7 hours. It was nice, but the tunnels were very disrupting and I was annoyed to be interrupted from my reading. When the bus enters to the long tunnels I lost the light, and it felt worst than any advertising break.
I arrived to Chengdu and the Hungarian couple where there in the station with the money for me! Nice surprised…there are more good people than bad ones. So the saying I like to follow, made at that moment more sense than before, "Pass something on to others...something that makes a difference... then do it again."
Chengdu. Is an amazing City. The most beautiful big town I have visited so far. It is clean, real clean. It has an amazing river that crosses the whole area. There are people fishing on the river and during the night there are light that illuminates it.
I have been in People’s Square, the local big central park, a place where I saw women offering massages, guys offering to clean ears with a big metal stick and a cotton in the end, there are tea houses around the garden, people doing tai chi, moms with their kids, people playing cards, dance classes, opera rehearsing, people playing ping pong, and an old guy teaching calligraphy in the floor with a big brush and water. I learnt to dance Chinese dances after I teach women dance western music surrounded by many curious that took thousand of pictures. Then I walk until my feet could not go more, the hot humid weather did not help much. I arrived very tired to the guesthouse where a shared a room with a guy from San Francisco who is doing a research on UGO the system that regulate internal immigration in China. Very interesting, but my eyes were closing while he was telling me his first experience in his interviews with the reformers of the law. The problem that exists here is that they have illegal immigrants but there are Chinese. People wants to go to big towns and Cities when that happens they lost their status, they lost the access to welfare and finally some can lost their home land. So there are attempts to change this lows and Sichuan will be the first experiment of reforms. Interesting. But it was too much for a full already day.
Chinese invented many important things for civilization during the history. But I have found the most amazing invention so far. I can believe that this does not exist in the western yet, or I have never seen this: the long life yogurt. It is an amazing technology that allows having yogurt out of the fridge. My meals have improved significantly since I found this. I wonder how would have been my burning man experience with yogurt in my backpack instead of all this unhealthy Trader Food options!
Now after a long-long 8 hours bus, where locals shared with me plums, I am in Kungding, tomorrow to Tongton a Tibetan town…where I hope I will stand the 3700 m above the sea level..