I had the opportunity to take a four day trip with a couple friends into a couple different areas. Here's a look at my trip and some photos from it as well.
First we set-off for a city called Labrang. It was a six hour bus ride on some winding roads through Qinghai province and into the Gansu province. If I couldn't tell the road was winding the guy behind me could as he got sick multiple times during our trip. It was a pretty drive and we got to drive past the Yellow river. When we got to the Gansu border the road got muddy and bumpy. At one point we needed to get off the bus and walk through a small town, because the roads were so bad. Before this we stopped and got yak yogurt from a lady selling it out of a store. They dumped a packet of sugar in it and it wasn't that bad. Before we finished our bus ride there was one point when the driver had to get out of the bus and use a shovel/pick ax to fix the road.
We arrived in Labrang and it is one long street. The buildings have a certain Tibetan feel to them in their appearence. This area is known for having a large Tibetan monastery.
This is the outside of the monastery where Buddhists walk and spin prayer wheels. It took us 45 minutes to walk around the monastery.
Some of those walking around the monastery do a type of prostrating. They would take three steps and then lay down. Stand up. Then repeat as they made there way around the monastery. Others who are more hardcore would face the monastery and lay down, then get up and take one step to the side and repeat. We watched a large range of people doing this from young kids to old people, each wearing wooden blocks on their hands and cushions on their legs (to protect them as they lay down to prostrate themselves).
As we made our way down the river that ran through the city we came across a few monks practicing these instruments.
We climbed a hill to overlook the town and the monastery. That night we ate some Tibetan yak dumplings that were quite good.
After a couple nights in Labrang we took another four hour bus ride to a town called Langmusi. It sits at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by mountains. The bus ride was great as we went through some grasslands and got to see some wonderful scenery. When we arrived in Langmusi we went to a hotel and found out that we could rent a Tibetan house for the evening for only $7.50 a night. I love doing stuff like this because I like new experiences and new stories.
So this was our house. Outside there were seven Tibetan mastiffs, which are capable of confronting wolves and leopards (according to Wikipedia). After we settled into our 'hotel' we made our way to a cafe in town. We got to eat yak pizza, which was good. I was enjoying all the different ways I was getting to eat yak.
After lunch we made our way through Langmusi. Here was a picture of one of the monasteries in town. There are two monasteries in town, one being in the Gansu province and the other in Sichuan.
Here's a picture of the street in town and the wonderful scenery that surrounds this town.
We tried to check out this monastery, but they wanted us to pay to enter and we refused. The Mosque across from the monastery allowed us to climb the minaret where I was able to take this picture.
Again, here's a picture contrasting the town and culture here to the landscape. It really was a great place to visit.
This was the room I stayed in for the night. I was excited when my friends told me they would use yak dung in the stove to heat the room. I was disappointed, however, that they used coal and not yak dung. At night we had a great chat with the lady who lives here; hearing about her life.
The next day I left and spent about 11 hours on the bus getting back to Xining. The trip was awesome and I was grateful to have done it.