Published: September 9th 2008September 9th 2008
This place is like walking onto a movie set, complete with authentic costumes, hair regalia and characters from the last century. Every step is an exquisite photograph waiting for the click. Nomads and farmers and city folk all stroll the streets doing their shopping, while the catapiller sellers huddle in groups trying to get the best price for their "fungus", the miracle cure for aging. It's actually not a fungus. It begins in the winter as a worm under the ground, then shoots up and leaves behind a carcus, which is what is selling. I wish I could load a photo, however, from here in China, this program to upload photos (and I've tried all of them) doesn't want to work. Even the one to adjust the photo size, surely mine are too big, doesn't work. So, alas I will have to wait to load photos when I get back to the states, it seems.
What to expect in Yushu:
1. Men spitting everywhere, even while eating in cafes (common in China)
2. Smacking and slurping food - proper etiquette it seems
3. Peeing on the street or anywhere without inhibitions. Anything liquid on the sidewalk is likely urine.
4. Bad food, double the price of Xining. We found one decent place to eat HOT POT, but the owner is always screaming at someone!
5. VERY smoky internet cafes, not cafes, just shops, about double Xining at US$1 per hour (5 in Yushu)
6. Along riverside there is a yak meat market of dozens of stall under colorful umbrellas. There is every part of the yak for sale; the head, all gut parts, yak hair, yak sausage, yak steak, etc. A bloody colorful event, not to be missed.
7. Tibetan market: Mainly clothing, hair items, monk clothing and monastery stuff. VERY VERY INTERESING. But a traditional Tibetan guitar here for $20. I bought one for a friend and she loved it.
8. Photos: I asked and took, asking is more fun if they let you take them because they want to look at your panel and then they giggle like all get out, probably the first photo they've ever seen of themselves. Some of them are shy and turn away, but this isn't a culture that thinks your stealing their soul or anything. The only person who didn't want to look at her photo was a Chinese cart lady, she snubbed her nose, apparently annoyed. The Tibetans are very friendly and will crowd around to look at the photos and one man actually posed against a light post and asked me to snap him.
9. Sleeping: A lot of places are out of business since the C cancelled the annual horse racing festival this year. However, rather than pay the rediculous 388 or 260 at the fancy hotels, that include breakfast you cannot eat, we did find a NEW hotel, not even finished yet, but the entrance is from a parking lot behind the big like 10 story white building in the center of town where the main road goes straight and the other main street makes a T. Sorry don't know the name, since it hasn't one anywhere except on the key. It was 160, still pricy for a place that only has heat on Oct-Mar regardless. We froze, but used our handy dandy empty water bottles, filled them with hot water and put them in the bed. Other than that we wore our coats. I'm staying at Lete' Hostel in Xining, paying 6US a night in a dorm of 4 and the temp is perfect.
10: Xining is actually a really nice city to hang around for a while, nothing much to see here, but go to Qinghai Lake or the Kumbum monastery, or just live in Xining. The food is good and plentiful, this hostel at the top of a 15 story building is owned by 2 americans, so the standard is relatively high. DON'T EXPECT MATTRESSES ANYWHERE IN CHINA. The best you will get is a boxsprings. At lete, as with most it's some slats of wood with a pad and a comforter. Bring a blow up or sleeping bad for padding, if you care.
Well, I've been in China for a month; Xining, Zadou and Yushu, loved each differently, but each experience is unique and mine has been especially nice due to having a great guide with me for the entire month. If you want his contact info, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His name is Kalsang, pronounced, Ksang. Tell him Marilyn sent you and he'll make you a great deal. Otherwise, I recommend Tibetan Connections, just upstairs from Lete Hostel. Owned by 2 American's who live here, they can get you some unique experiences living with nomads, etc. Also, I'm using them to get my Lhasa permits and train ticket. They know what they are doing. Look them up on the internet.
Heading to Lhasa!