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Published: July 19th 2015
Xiahe is just under 3000m above sea level and even in the middle of July it's cold at night or when the sun isn't shining. It was quite a shock getting off the bus from Lanzhou where it had been 30c when we left a bit over 3 hours earlier. Apart from the cold and wind the first thing that struck us was the similarity in looks and dress between the Tibetans living up here and the Andean peoples we'd come across in South America - it's startling to see how alike two groups of people separated by half a world can be.
The Labrang Monastery is the must see place. It's one of the six major Tibetan monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect. It has 1800 monks and nuns and spreads over quite a big area. The Kora (Pilgrim Path) stretches 3km around it, from what we saw the locals walk this path every morning. We also saw a few pilgrims prostrating (careful with the spelling !!) themselves around the path and in the temples. An impressive show of faith. We were up early and walked the whole way round when almost all the other people were locals unlike
later in the day when most people were tourists.
Lunch was an interesting experience. Although the menu had English, Chinese and Tibetan descriptions something got lost in translation between our order and the food that arrived. We'd ordered fried tomatoes with eggs and rice but when it came there was no rice. We explained, or maybe didn't, what we'd ordered expecting them to bring a bowl of rice to add to what we already had, but a few minutes later the right dish arrived complete with more fried tomatoes and eggs, I guess they thought we liked it so much we wanted 2 !!
We took the afternoon bus back to Lanzhou where more interesting experiences awaited us. We'd been careful to book a hotel near to the brand new Lanzhou Xi Railway Station where our train would leave from the next morning. Unfortunately it seems this is not a popular place for taxi drivers as not a single one would take us there from the bus station we'd arrived at. After a lot of cursing and swearing (by me) we decided we had to walk, it looked about a couple of km on the map. We set
off and after 20/30 minutes came across a police station. We asked them directions but (we think) they said it was too far and we needed a taxi, they went out to get us one, but also had no luck. In the end they flagged down a police car and they drove us to the hotel !! The day before when we'd arrived in Lanzhou at the old railway station we'd also had a troublesome job finding a taxi which when we arrived at the bus station was involved in an accident when some dickhead reversed into us !! Lanzhou definitely wins our awards for the crappiest taxi system and best policemen !!
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