# 62 Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College- Xiahe- Burbs & Beyond

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May 9th 2007
Published: August 10th 2007
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View over LabrangView over LabrangView 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 valleyFabulous views down the valleyFabulous 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 summerLushness of summerLushness 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!

Additional photos below
Photos: 45, Displayed: 23


All purpose channelAll purpose channel
All purpose channel

Household garbage and bodily wastes are disposed of through these channels down the middle of the backstreets in the Tibetan part of town.
Puppy palPuppy pal
Puppy pal

During my wanderings I met up with a litter of delightful puppies. This one took a particular liking to me! So cute!
Labuleng HotelLabuleng Hotel
Labuleng Hotel

About 2km out of town past the Tibetan township is the Labuleng Hotel. I had read reasonable reviews of the place, so I thought I would take a quick look around. It seemed rather abandoned on the day I visited. Nobody seemed to be staying there and it looked a bit neglected. I really wasn't amoured of the "fake Tibetan nomad tent" look of the private "villas".
Labuleng Hotel roomLabuleng Hotel room
Labuleng Hotel room

Relatively clean but a bit drab and musty. I was curious as to why it was desolate during Golden Week. Noone else was around except a couple of maintenance workers.
Local Tibetan schoolLocal Tibetan school
Local Tibetan school

Also on the edge of town was this huge complex that turned out to be a school for Tibetan children. Small town, but many children come from faraway places to study here.
Another schoolAnother school
Another school

Close by is another school of equally large proportions but I was told this was a Chinese school. Both these schools boast thousands of attendees. Education is really big business in China.
New house constructionNew house construction
New house construction

As I walked out of town, there was a lot of new house construction going on. As usual most of the construction is done by hand. Here labourers use a little mechanical aid to pound the earthern floor/roof so it becomes solid and reasonably flat.
Hi ho it's off to work we go!Hi ho it's off to work we go!
Hi ho it's off to work we go!

Three Tibetan ladies ready for another day's work building roads or houses. No gender discrimination with respect to hard labour here.
Work is a family affairWork is a family affair
Work is a family affair

Children also are expected to help.
Rooftop viewRooftop view
Rooftop view

Climbing to the upper reaches of Labrang village I had impressive views back down the valley.
Well securedWell secured
Well secured

So glad he was too! One of the disadvantages of walking up roads in a village that is built up a steep hillside is that you can walk along lanes that are level with some houses' roofs. On or near many of these roofs are guard dogs who can scare the hell out of anyone who wanders a little too close to what they consider their territory. A bit graphic (yes, that is the carcass of a dead lamb nearby) but it taught me a valuable lesson!
What are you looking at?What are you looking at?
What are you looking at?

Much less forbidding were these little donkeys.
Taking a photo of the tourists taking a photoTaking a photo of the tourists taking a photo
Taking a photo of the tourists taking a photo

Unfortunately many Chinese tourists are less than polite when taking photographs of "locals". They almost never ask first before starting snapping away. The local Tibetans in this case were very gracious, obviously used to it, but I had to take a shot of these Chinese tourists almost poking the cameras in these people's faces. Even rearranging them in a more "natural" pose for a "better" picture! The "professional" photographers are the worst.
Overlooking townOverlooking town
Overlooking town

More great views on our hike with some of the young Hui boys from the mosque.
The gang relaxingThe gang relaxing
The gang relaxing

These young lads were like mountain goats, deftly scrambling up the very loose surface of the "mountain". This was their playground and they were pleased to share it with us. Even though considered poor, these boys seemed to love life and were charming, helpful and so at home in the natural environment.
Ash, Sue & the ladsAsh, Sue & the lads
Ash, Sue & the lads

Taking a rest while Haruko gallavanted up the slope across the gully from us.
The thinkerThe thinker
The thinker

This young lad appeared happy to sit on his own for a while and just contemplate the wonders of the universe.
View of XiaheView of Xiahe
View of Xiahe

Xiahe from a different direction.

11th September 2007

Another great adventure
Great to see your photos and share your wonderful time in the West of China. The photos and commentaries will remain as great memories of your time in China. Thank you for sharing. Hans
13th September 2007

Amazing! After reading this, I feel as if I were there. It is no wonder said the west is the cradle land of our country, and the living style there is greatly different from my hometown, it is interesting. However, you may see, the teaching conditions there is not as well as the east. And now the government is making efforts to narrow the distance between the east and the west.
16th September 2007

wonderful pictures ! they pull me back to the warm memory 10 years ago when I went to Xiahe . thanks!

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