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Published: August 4th 2018
July 27 - Guide - Dia 37
We got picked up at 8:30am, no more carrying backpacks or hitchiking. We had a car for ourselves for 7 full days! All of us were extremely excited for the new journey. Hitchhiking and carrying our packs for 36 days really made us a realize how fortunate it is to have a car. We could tell the driver to take us anywhere ??
Before heading anywhere the driver, Hu Xiaobing took us to meet the owner of the car, a 29 year old woman. To our surprise Hu Xiabing took us to a Hospital. All of us were wondering what was the woman doing in the Hospital. As we crossed through a sign which sayed Blood Dyalysis we started to get an idea. We met the woman which wanted to be our driver but had to have her blood cleaned every 2 days, she was suffering kidney failure. I really don't like hospitals.
Before leaving the city we had to do one other small stop. Starbucks to buy some coffee grains ? Can't leave without it!
The objective of the day was heading to a small County called Guide. For the next 15 days
we are following a schedule which was provided to us by a local chinese guide, getting deeper and deeper into the Tibetan regions as the days go by.
We arrived to Guide much faster then we expected and it was still early in the day! Amazing how much we can cover and do now that we have a car. We visited the banks of an extremely silty river which crossed the county, with the plan of resting and taking a refreshing bath. All of us including Hu Xiabing jumped into the river, so cold, too cold to stay in. The banks were super silty, I decided to warm up by rolling in a puddle of clay. All my body was covered in clay, making me revive memories playing in the mud as a child with my brothers and sisters in "El Rancho Gringo" ?
We chilled under the sun, enjoying the beautiful sunny day until hunger make us leave and enter the County of Guide.
After some good old noodles we walked around the county, going into the market and walking peacefully through it. Meanwhile Bean and Leonardo photographed all the people the could possibly see jajaja, fun to travel
with two passionate photographers. Since they are photographing everyone we really get to interact with the people. We were starting to see many more textile stores and traditional Tibetan wear. Beautiful colorful textiles, long necklaces make out of silver, intricate belts, beautiful leather boots and stylish hats. I'll post a picture of Leonardo's portraits to help with the visualization. Increiblemente hermoso!
With still half of the day left we started heading to the next County on the list, Tongde. Driving through vast rolling grasslands at quite a high elevation, 3500m. After an hour of driving, Leonardo pointed out a isolated monastery sitting in the middle of the grasslands. He suggested we go take a look at it. And so we did
As we walked through the empty front yard and through the entrance door we saw a small kid wearing monk robes. Immedietly after other people started appearing, most of them not wearing robes. We got invited to a room and as we entered were welcomed to a table full with bread, fruit and roasted vegetables. A lot of food, more then what 3 full man can possibly eat on empty stomachs. We ate, accompanied by some delicious milk tea.
How amazing is it that they welcome three strangers to eat with them. I was in disbelief and incredibly joyful and thankful.
Not being able to eat or drink anymore we started walking around the monastery., attracted by a humming sound coming from a nearby room. As we walked into this other room we suddenly immersed ourselves in the middle of a monk recital/prayer. Numerous monks sitting down with a beaded necklace wrapped around their hands reciting the same sentence, over and over again. Placing you in a trance state. Not knowing if it was correct to be there we looked around for a sign of invitation. And found the welcoming face of the elderly monks and the curious face of the children. We stepped in. Such an unforgettable experience. Incredible detail all around the room, carpets layed on the floor and wrapped on the columns, paintings and colors on every wall. Even though I couldn't communicate I felt welcomed and had the chance to seat next to a young monk and watch the chanting go on.
As we left the praying room, a kid (15 years old), who was helping the monestary, invited us to his house to meet
his 85 year old father. Ready for another memorable moment we accepted and drove to his house, leaving the monestary behind.
This was like no other house, it was actually a small 2 story Hotel which was the families buisiness. With the grandpa nowhere to be seen, we took the opportunity of hiking to a nearby hill to set up the tent for later in the night. Accompanied at all times by the child ? he took us back to his house and invited us to a small bedroom. Here we properly met his grandpa. A grandpa with a lot of style, always wearing his hat and sun glasses, which he sayed were passed down by his father! You could see how much the kid loved his grandpa ❤
With a bottle of hard liquor in hand we started celebrating with a couple of drinks, the kid and grandpa didn't join us. The grandpa left after a while but the kid stayed. Leonardo, Bean, Hu Xiaobing and I started playing card games, finishing the first bottle. With the insistence of Hu Xiaobing we went to buy another one and finished it as well. By now we were drunk, first time
drunk in China! The kid was having so much fun watching us. The night continued and we went in search for noodles around the small town with the child as a guide. What an amazing adventure jajajajaja. Returning later and heading to our already made tent for a good night sleep. Amazed by how much we ended up doing today! Love China even more as the days continue to roll by. People are too nice.
July 28 - Tongde - Dia 38
The kid came up the hill and woke us up from our sweet dreams. All of us woke up feeling a bit sick due to all the alcohol?. It was going to be a tough morning. We went down to his house and spend a while there, each one of us took a hot shower ? and the kid gave us some hot buns with milk tea yuumi. And later we bought some yak yogurt, even more yumi. Feeling a bit better we drove off, saying good bye and giving him a big hug for his kidness.
After a couple of hours of crossing some beautiful grasslands, there tends to be a lot of grasslands in China
jajajaja, we took a break under some trees. Was a bit hard to find a comfortable position to nap in the concrete ?.
Heading off again we quickly arrived to the County of Tongde. We decided to visit the local market, check the stores and local Tibetans out. We walked a lot in this town, defiently much more lively then Guide. All of this walking reminds me a lot of walking through pueblos in Mexico with my family. One instance we ended up entering a building which had a sign of a billard table in front, a man's club it seemed. Really interested we walked in and found ourselves in what seemed to defiently be a man's club. Many young Chinese man playing billards, drinking enegy drinks, and shouting ALOT. We stayed a while and got invited to play a game of billards, lost horribly hahaha. First me to see this kind of atmosphere in China.
Feeling tired of walking we called our driver to pick us up, he had stopped following us a while back. Spoiled we waited for Hu Xiaobing to arrive jiji.
Leonardo had managed to get a local contact from one of his close Italian friends,
which helped build a female school around the area. We managed to get in touch with him in the evening. He took us to various Buddhist temples, less visited places in the County. Incredible how many Buddhist temples were visibly crumbling from the outside but clean and beautiful from the inside. Could never understand why. One of the special parts of walking in Buddhist temples are the praying wheels. Walking around and spinning all of the wheels makes you feel connected to the religion in some way.
After visiting two Buddhist temples he invited us for dinner. We sayed no since we still had a fair bit of driving to cover before heading to bed. He said yes. We said no... we went for dinner with him. Something else I have realized as I travel through China is the difficulty in rejecting someone's offer. Chinese are quite stubborn, if they want you to eat, it's extremely hard to refuse. They will keep on insisting, until you essentially feel bad for rejecting. I guess that practice should be transfered to business jejeje.
Dinner was worth it though! Accompanied by the current president for the female school, we ate like kings. All
of the dishes we had never been able to order because of the price, we managed to eat today. Dish after dish was brought to the table and we just kept on eating. Never knew I could fit so much in my stomach. Best meal we have had so far in the trip! Good thing that we accepted his invitation for dinner ?
With stomachs full and satisfaction like never before we headed off to the road again. Driving just for a couple of minutes before settling down next to the highway for the night. We ended up treating ourselves with a movie in the tent this night. Not the best movie but nice to enjoy the night differently.
July 29 - Golok & to Mountain Animachen - Dia 39
Woken up by the sound of the trucks and cars zooming past our car&tent. We quickly packed everything and started moving again. We had a lot of distance to cover to arrive to the County of Golog and to start heading towards Animachen Mountain, the highest mountain around the region (6100m tall ?) No intentions of climbing it.
Beautiful drive, the best so far in this roadtrip. We crossed
some red canyons with some incredible looking mud pillards. Incredible how the water carved them with time and how they were will standing. I wonder if they are stable enough to climb, maybe for the next trip ?
We started gaining a lot of elevation, crossing through passes as high as 4000 meters, feeling the air become thinner. We expect to be crossing passes close to 5000m in the next couple of days ? Tibetans value this passes and decorate them with many flags and colorful textiles.
Just before we arrived to Golok we passed through this small town with the biggest monestary we had ever seen. Of course we couldn't let that opportunity pass. We went in. Based on the information Bean got, the current living Buddha was born in this town. A few decades ago the town was governed by the Monestary and had to pay the Monestary fees , which helped it grow. We walked around the monestary, through a labyrinth leading to different praying chambers. Getting lost a couple of times jajajaja. We arrived to a chamber which had the entrance recently painted. An incredible piece of art which looked 3 dimensional. As we kept on
walking through the labyrinth we finally managed to get to the big golden Buddha structure overseeing the entire monestary, huge!
Heading off again we soon arrived to the County of Golok were we decided to visit another market. It was pretty similar to the other markets we had visited the past few days. Being that the case we didn't stay to long and moved on.
Now heading towards Mountain Animachen, a massive mountain with a glacier on top. We have not seen snowed mountains in this trip yet so we were pretty excited to head over there.
As we drove closer to the mountain we started feeling the remoteness. Driving through this huge valley and at the very end, barely visible, you could see a snowed peak, our destination ?
There was a highway leading towards the mountain but since it was getting late we chose to go on the gravel road, more convenient to leave the road and camp in the grasslands. After a couple of kilometers in the gravel road we stopped, jumped a fence and set the tent. Hu Xiaobing helped us and we helped him set his car bed, his becoming one of us now ?.
With still some light left we cracked some beers and played some card games on top of the grass. As we played a rancher,most probably the owner of the land we were on, approached us. We offered him beer, which he rejected. Tibetans don't usually drink at all since they have a natural tendency of becoming aggressive. Opening up to us, he sat down and joined the card game. Never mentioning anything about us camping in his land jajajajaja. As it became dark he even invited us to his house for some milk tea and buns. An offer we could not reject.
Sitting down in a big open room with a hot furnace in the middle, we were happy. The rancher introduced his wife and daughter and then made us a traditional dish which is eaten before drinking milk tea. Let me try to elaborate: in a tea cup they place wheat, a spoonful of butter, sugar and some milk tea. Then with a piece of bread you stir all the ingredients at the same time as you eat the bread ? . After the bread is finished you place your finger in the cup and keep stiring, watching as
it solidifies. After its nice and solid you lick your finger and pass the dough to the palm of your hand were you start rolling it, making it a taco shape and biting it until is all gone. Once finishing it, you pour milk tea on the empty cup and drink it. That's what I call mastering the art of drinking milk tea.
Leo and I never managed to get the solid consistency but Bean got it ? What an amazing way to spend the night is all I have to say. Invited to eat yak yogurt for breakfast we sayed of course yes and went to our tent to fall asleep soundly.
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