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Published: August 10th 2007
View over Labrang
Starkly beautiful in the dry season.
While in Xiahe on my first visit in May (as indicated by the date on this blog), I went on many walks out and around the edges of town just to explore and also get great views and a different perspective of the impressive Labrang Monastery and the locals' everyday life.
In May, much of the area was dry, brown and dusty as the summer rains had not yet arrived. The locals were preparing the dry, infertile-looking soil for the summer crops of rape seed and barley. I wondered how on earth they irrigated effectively, as the Daxia River at this point is little more than a stream. On my recent return visit in July, I have seen those previously dry, barren spaces clothed in green and yellow (rape seed). An amazing transformation!
On a number of these walks I was also accompanied by a number of local children (see earlier blog), my new friends Ash and Haruko and on one particular occasion, our friend Xiao Mei the shoemaker and her young niece of the same name. This hike was my favourite. We walked east out of town and past the Spring Water Factory (supposedly famous?), up through a
Fabulous views down the valley
Brown and tinder dry, but still beautiful.
village where we met some of Xiao Mei's relatives. After the obligatory tea and bread, we continued past another nunnery (closed to the public) until we reached the top of an almost endless plateau with the ruins of an old fort. Just beautiful!
Many visitors to Xiahe spend only two or sometimes three days here before moving on. I spent six days on my first visit in May and a further two on my second in July. What I have shared with you is just the beginning of what this area has to offer. So , if you have the time (and the inclination?!), I highly recommend that you stay longer, make the effort to meet the locals (don't let lack of language be too much of a barrier) and enrich your travels enormously!
To finish this series of blogs I have also included a few shots of my brief stopover in Lanzhou, my final destination on this short vacation where I caught a train back to Taizhou. Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, is a major stop on the ancient "Silk Road" west of Xi'an. Situated on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, Lanzhou has been important
Lushness of summer
An amazing contrast on my second visit in July! The golden yellow is blossoming rapeseed.
for thousands of years because of the Hexi Corridor, or “Corridor West of the Yellow River,” in which early Chinese civilization began. I would love to explore further west, but that will have to wait for another time!
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