Published: June 1st 2012June 1st 2012
I arrived to Tibet, to the area that you do not need a special permit to enter, the big city in this area called Xining. The fresh air and the small size of the city mark a great beginning.
The train from Xian was long, slow, but I fell I am an expert on overnight china trains at this moment. I saw a movie, a very bad one about break-dancers competitors in NY city, in an Ipad of a woman that was sitting next to me. I sleep badly because the guy that was behind my bed was snoring very loud. I wanted to say SHHHHHHHHHH, but there was not point, SHHHH here means napkin! No point to shout at 2 pm in the middle of the train for napkins…Then I met a local sales persons that works in Xian but is from Xining. Bob is his name in English and he works in marketing and sales of dental products. He updated me about some things in China. He confirmed me that people here pay for health care. In Yanan I could not stop my curiosity and enter to checked out a hospital. I saw people in lines for western drugs and traditional medicine. Then I was helped but the receptionists there, that looked like aircraft professional all in red with funny hat, showing me the hospital restrooms. Finally I took a free test on blood pressure in an electric machine after a long line, while many other people where reading the result of it as it where the result of a competition. I had low pressure and everybody congratulates me. Bob said that for them medicine is very expensive and having a career as a doctor in a privilege.
Then we changed topics and starting to compare China with other places. It was shocking thinking that the population here is 35 times the population of Argentina. And I am not sure if we did the math well. He was curious about other places in the world and he said that he find China is pretty unequal this days, that there is a lot of poverty. He was super nice and gave me his phone in case I will be interested in the future in some help. He took cares of my bag and helped me to go over the stairs. There are not elevators or electric stairs in most of train stations. I hope my external hard drive that was in the bag is still alive after the adventure….He put me in the bus 5 in the direction to my Hostel in Xining and again remarks, that I should call me if I need anything…I did not wanted to ask him to define need anything, but I took his phone and smiled.
Originally Tibet existed in 3 areas, that now are 3 different Chinese provinces: U-Tsang or TAR –central Tibet (where is Lhasa and where you need a special permit to enter, where the military controls everything and where yesterday around 400 people protested and has been arrested- so I have few chances to get a permit at this moment) Then, the province of Qinghai or Amdo region were I am right now and where the 14 th Dalai Lama born, and many Muslims arrived, many things happened here as well, a well and finally Gansu or Kham region where there are many monasteries and many Tibetan communities. Some people says I can get more about the culture of Tibetan people in Amdo and Kham rather that Tar, because in Tar the Chinese migrate a lot people from others region so the city has lost his Tibetan flavor in a way…
Being realistic I will not be able to enter to Lhasa nor doing to the trip called the Himalayan highway to Nepal/Katmandu. So I need to start to develop a plan B. Covering more deeply this region that is open for me.
I went to the Muslim Mosque, Dongguan Mosque, at mid-day for the Friday prayers. It was amazing to see thousands of people prostrating on their little carpets in the middle of the street and market in the direction of the mosque. The events took less than an hour but the area stays frozen and you are not allowed to walk much. People are praying in the street next to the dead chickens and dead fish and fruit of the market. Not many women are around, it seems the once that pray does it only inside the mosque. Some woman in the street are covered with fancy colorful silks garments while the older once uses a back garment that would communicate in the western they are widows, but I do not think here is the case.
In the market they sell the best bread I have eaten so far here. There are a nice variety of exotic fruits, from the well-known leeches to other unnamed things that look like green vegetables but are fruits. But I have not bought anything of that, but a big bags of tea. One of Jasmine and one of green tea. I have my thermos for tea, I am an expert now on train night and how to travel and ask fro hot water, this new herbs in my journey will replace in a perfect way my mate here.
After that I took the bus 33 with a new co-traveler from Japan, to the Taer Monastery. We where in the same hostel in Xian, and re met here in the train station. The good thing of Japanese is that they even do not speak Chinese they are able to read it. So my sense of directions with him is more than welcome.
The Taer Monastery or Kumbum Monastery is the second in importance after Lhasa. It is 50 minutes buy bus out of Xining. It consists of a mini city of religious buildings: for prays, studies, medicine, scholars, etc. The place is a amazing, big and interesting. But you will have a problem as a tourists, you can not take pictures in most areas of this place and monks are hesitant to be taking picture (video either)
To be safe and combat food infections here I decided to take daily a garlic. It is disgusting and sometimes burns badly my mouth but is working. It kills everything I guess. Today was my lucky day (maybe not for the people around me!!!!), after the Monastery, I went to the market for my natural antiseptic treatment, I found a bag of peeled garlic and as I was buying only 5 pieces the teller gave them for free…
(THANKS FOR THE MAILS AND BIRTHDAY CONGRATULATIONS, I was able to read them on my yahoo account where I receive a copy of everything of Facebook, but I am no able to answer you!!!)