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Published: August 5th 2018
30th - Mountain Animachen - Dia 40
A lot of emotions today. Waking up to some amazing blue skies, I took the opportunity to use the river to shave my head. As I was doing so, Bean and Leonardo woke up and got into a heated argument. Defiently broke the peace in the morning. With tension being felt between both of them, affecting the dynamics of the group, we spend the morning talking about it. I worked as the moderator and after an hour of words being shared, everything was back to normal.
Because of this delay we never managed to eat the yak yogurt the family had made for us. When we arrived at their doorstep we found out nobody was home ?
Leaving the campsite behind we went back on the gravel road to head towards Animachen. We spend a lot of time wondering around with the car, not being able to find the way. Feeling a bit desperate, but had to practice my patience.
After a couple of hours in the car we could finally start seeing the glacier clearly on top of Animachen, but we where still far away. Now the worry of not having enough
gas started being mentioned . Passing by a desolate village we asked where we could get any gas, not anywhere near it seemed.
Because of this we unfortunately had to change our plans and not head to the base of the mountain, maybe get close to it though. Realizing a horse race was being celebrated extremely close to us, we put hold on the idea of heading closer to Animachen Mountain.
In a matter of minutes of driving we where on top of a plateau looking at many tents and fairly well dressed people enjoying the horse race event. It was an event that lasts 3 days and today was the last one, the final horse race was about to unfold. We were extremely lucky to be seeing this as it was an event that took place every 3 years. We managed to glimpse the 6 contesters sprinting to the finish line. What an opporunity.
With the race done a Tibetan family which Bean talked to for advice on getting to Animachen, invited us for lunch. Here we enjoyed the traditional dish, lamb meat. Made by cooking the pieces of meat on boiling water with salt. Simple but delicious, my
father would have loved it. Sometimes simplicity is all it needs ? Of course this was accompanied by some milk tea.
The Tibetan family sayed they lived at the base of the mountain and were willing to take us there. Extremely exited about our luck we accepted, but then realized they were looking for us to pay, we hadn't been that lucky it seemed. Rejecting we thanked them for their lamb meat and left the tent.
As soon as we were out another Tibetan family approached us, inviting us for lunch jajajaja. I again will say Tibetans are quite stubborn, even though we told them we had already eaten they pulled us into their tent.
Being a bigger family they had a bigger tent, we sat crossed legged in their soft carpet in front of a long table filled with lamb meat, fruit, bread and candy. With all the family staring and offering food by directly giving it to us with their hand, we couldn't reject and ate another meal jajajaja.
This Tibetan family was much more enjoyable to be with. With our bellies full we thanked them for there hospitality and took a big family photo. Leaving the tent,
we had to quickly walk to the car before another family could invite us for lunch. ?
Deciding to try a gravel road which supposedly lead to Animachen we were off! After some time of driving we started crossing some pretty badly maintained bridges. Our driver started feeling unsecure with the situation so we decided to back off and forget about Animachen Mountain. ?
Changing the plans we decided to start heading to the next destination: County of Darlag. After an hour or two of driving we finally decided to stop. Exhausted. We settled down next to a clear beautiful river. Playing some cards on top of the grass as the sun set behind the horizon.
July 31st - County of Darlag and beyond - Día 41
Today we did quite a fare bit of driving. The most we have ever done. We did manage to have one long stop break before arriving to the County of Darlag.
After crossing through many rolling grasslands, we left the road and parked right next to a river. I took this opporunity to go on a small hike up a hill, to admire the view and stretch the legs a bit. Hard
to catch the breath while walking uphill at 4300m. I managed to get some amazing views and relax with some Yaks at the top of the hill. While heading back down I jumped in the river and took a quick,well needed, bath. Felt nice to lay afloat and be taken by the rivers current for a few meters.
Finally arriving at Darlag in the evening. A small town with a huge school for monks, encompassing half of the town itself. Because of this you saw monks walking with their robes everywhere, especially kids and young adolescents. We went for a nice dinner and walked around the town for a bit, we'll deserved after a long drive. We also managed to visit the monk school and go through an extremely long chain of praying wheels.
With the dark gray clouds coming overhead we left the town and looked for a place to sleep. Having a car really helps out on those rainy afternoons. Rain falling on us, we really didn't want to get out of the car and set up the tent. So we waited a bit ? , playing card games inside the car. With the rain ceasing
for a couple of minutes we too the opportunity to set up the tent. Good thing we did since it started raining soon after.
August 1st - Mountain Range of Nyanbo Yurtse - Dia 41
Definitely the best day of the 7 day driving adventure with Hu Xiaobing. Tired of so much driving we made sure to limit the driving for today.
The day was still cloudy when we woke up. It was supposed to stay like that for the rest of the day. We packed out wet tent and jumped in the car heading towards an alpine lake.
Arriving in a couple of minutes, we were standing in the grass floor of huge spiked granite mountains surrounding a long lake.
Beautiful scenery with fog and the gray clouds moving through the peaks and the sky.
Ready to exercise the legs we chose a rather small grassy mountain to hike up and view the lake from above. The three of us took off leaving Hu Xiaobing behind.
With the high elevation of 4000+ meters it was challenging to catch your breath while hiking up. After a matter of minutes Bean spoke up and sayed he would rather walk around
the lake, leaving Leonardo and I behind. I don't know why but I like the sensation of hiking upwards and feeling the air becoming thinner for every step you take. You have to start concentrating on your breathing cycle more carefully, by not getting inside your head that you are not receiving enough oxygen.
With limited time and starting to feel rain falling we decided to change our objective; head a bit higher up to reach the ridge line, take a quick picture and head back down. Finally reaching the ridge when the rain really started falling I found myself full of life. Overseeing the lake we had been at an hour ago and a series of additional lakes farther upstream,each connected by a swirling river. Getting wet by the instant we quickly ran downhill feeling the temperature increase and the rain stop.
Back in the circumference of the lake Leo, worried for his camara, went back to the car in look for shelter. Since the rain had actually stopped I decided to walk upstream from the lake to explore a bit more.
I walked all the way up to the next lake seeing a beautiful pack of horses laying
around the grass, not being disturbed by my presence. And next to the lake a huge group of black yaks, asking to be photographed with a beautiful scenery behind. Feeling I had been away for too long, I decided to turn back and not explore the huge granite walls and additional lakes and small white tents farther upstream. Another time and place I guess.
After a long walk back I entered a small white tent which I had been told was Hu, Bean and Leo. Walking in right when they had been offered white rice with yak meat and steamed potatos.?
Thanking them for their hospitality we left the beautiful scenery behind and with still half of the day left, headed towards Nyambo Yurtse Mountain Range. A mountain range which is forbidden for non-tibetans according to Bean.
Getting lucky, after another quick drive, we stopped next to a flat grassland, with the mountain range as its surrounding background. It was raining but the sky was clearing up. We were encountering the simultaneous and weird sunny and rainy weather. With an incredibly beautiful view we decided to stop here for the remainder of the day and hike through the grasslands, towards
the mountain range. With the idea of hopefully being invited for dinner by one of the white yurts situated near the mountain range and sleeping around the area.
Leaving the car parked in the grasslands Hu Xiaobing joined our adventure. The four of us walked through the grassland, trying to avoid stepping on the minefield of yak poops, wondering what was to come.
In the distance a lone horseback rider herding a big group of yaks appeared before us. Getting closer to the masked rider we realized it was a woman as she uncovered her face and spoke. Letting Bean and Hu speak, it all ended by her saying something and riding off across the fields towards the white yurt. Realizing she had indeed offered us hot water, the four of us followed happily behind. Too many beautiful views and pictures which needed to be taken slowed us down a bit ?
Arriving at the yurt we were received by two young woman (ages 25 and 26), young and extremely independent. Both living in separate yurts and married. They cared for the Yaks meanwhile the husbands worked. One of the families owned 100 Yaks!
We ended up spending the rest
of the day with them. Learning how they lived and ate.
At our arrival they offered us milk tea and the traditional dish, which I have already described: Wheat, a lot of butter, sugar, cheese and milk tea. Basically it's like eating raw dough, it gives you a huge boost of energy but destroys your stomach if your not used to it (aka:diarrhea jaja). Not about to reject our only source of food, we ate.
These people live from the Yaks, with them they manage to make butter and milk, which they later make cheese with. Amazingly the fuel they use to keep the fire burning inside their yurts is Yak poop as well! By collecting and spreading the yak poops in the grasslands, they let it dry and then use it as burning fuel. ?
With both woman only knowing Tibetan dialect and barely any Mandarin we spend the evening having fun as we tried to understand each other ?
Being offered by them we set our tent immedietly next to their big white yurts and officially decided to stay here for the night.
As the day faded Bean got the opportunity to ride a horse for his first
time. And accompanied one of the woman to herd all the Yaks to there sleeping grounds, next to the yurts. He told us how the woman carried a long sling which she placed a rock in and by swirling and releasing it with precision she managed to hit the Yaks and make them move at the same time as she was riding the horse. What a skill!
Meanwhile Leonardo and I went for a walk through the valley to enjoy the incredible view of the massive rock formations overlooking the yak farms. The dance of the setting daylight with the surrounding landscape was picturesque.
Heading back as it started to get dark we passed through another family owning and caring for Yaks. We watched how they tied the Yaks to some fixed line for the night. And how they fed the little baby yaks salt.
Yaks love salt it seemed (They like salt so much that when you pii a yak appears out of nowhere and starts licking the ground exactly were the puddle was) and that is the way they train them. My theory goes like this: by giving them salt at a very young age, the Yaks get
used to licking salt from humans hands. Since yaks are extremely nervous animals, the only way to make them get close to you is by extending your hand and making it seem as if your giving them salt. Smart!!
Back in the yurts we settled down in some chairs as the woman prepared dinner. We offered to help but she did not let us. At the same time the grandmother and daughter of 5 entered the yurt. The little girl was extremely outgoing and energetic, we got really close to her. She even gave us a kiss the next day we were leaving ?❤
They fed us potatos and cabbage on top of a bowl rice, delicioso! And then she boiled some cow meat which was a bit too chewey, but deliciously flavourful and fresh. As we finished the husband walked in, serious and quiet character but welcoming as well.
Feeling lucky and happy around the people which surrounded us this night, we went to bed.
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