Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Barkam To Mt. Siguniang

Barkam to Aba/Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture was like Kangding to Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, meaning it was the seat of the prefecture. There was a river flowing alongside the town, too. But I felt that Barkam seemed to be much less crowded than Kangding and had no sign of international travelers.

Today was a great public transport experience. Because the driver said 8:30AM the bus to Xiaojin would depart, this morning, I came to the station early to buy a new ticket. Turned out I was too early, again. The bus would depart around noon, again.

When I went back to the hostel for a seat, they invited me to have breakfast. So kind. Or they didn’t know that I had already checked out. And it was a square meal with green bean and rice porridge, two Chinese steamed buns (mantou), a boiled egg, peanuts, and pickled cucumber. Best breakfast so far.

It was a bumpy bus ride to Xiaojin via winding roads and passes. Sometimes, I thought the bus couldn’t get through some big stone piles on the road. But thanks to the onsite wheel loader and rotary mixer, plus the help of the bus staff, there was a connecting bus waiting for us somewhere on the way to Mt. Siguniang.

The 10-hour on the bus ride yesterday was not as tiring as 6 hours today; however, I enjoyed this crowded bus from Xiaojin to Mt. Siguniang, and moreover, kindness of Chinese people.

They stopped near the Changping Valley site under the rain, so I picked that hostel right there. Its decoration looked warm and comfortable.

The Changping Inn hostel’s owner didn’t speak English, but I found their bookcase interesting.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Barkam To Mt. Siguniang

JULY 1, 2019

Vậy là chỉ còn 6 tháng nữa là tới năm 2020 rồi đó. Mỗi người đều đang phải đấu tranh, xin bạn nhất định đừng ngã xuống.
//
半年之后迎来2020年。每个人都在挣扎,请你千万别倒下。
//
2020 is only 6 months away. Everyone is struggling, please don’t fall.
P.s.: Picture taken in Langmusi, Sichuan and Gansu, China in 2019.

Continue ReadingJULY 1, 2019

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 9: Langmusi To Barkam, Transit In Zoigê

I didn’t know that I saw the Hui mosque the day I arrived in Langmusi. It was on the right side of the monastery near the bus stop and on the way to the hill that I trekked in that evening. I found out when I saw the photos I took that day.

Before getting on the bus back to Zoige (Ruoergai), I went inside the mosque but all doors were closed. I was at the Ruoergai station before 8:30AM but the tickets wrote that the bus to Xiaojin started at 12:10PM.

This place must be the highest place I’ve been to in this trip. It was cold today, too. I followed the Hanoian teacher girl to buy some flat peaches. They tasted just like other peaches I’d eaten before. But at least I tried.

After having potatoes and beef rice for lunch, I found a cat playing with my backpack hit belt.

After 1 hour, we were stuck again in a traffic jam for 1 and a half hours. First time I got to use my paper fan. 10 years later, Sichuan traffic jams were much more orderly and polite.

It was so hard to ask for the direction to Mt. Siguniang here because the station was closed when we arrived in Barkam aka Maerkang at 7:30PM. The bus driver told me there’d be one early tomorrow morning.

Then I leaded my team to find a hotel. I saw one looking kinda luxury next to the bus station. I realized that Chinese people used a face recognition machine to check in to the hotels here. After waiting for a while, I got the boot because I was a foreigner. I got the same result from one or two places nearby.

After wheeling my suitcase faster to the downtown worrying it would be dark soon, I saw another luxury hotel after crossing a small bridge. Luckily, they accepted 4 foreigners in 1 room. But the receptionist took so long to register me that I had to tell her I’d come back to get my passport after dinner.

The room was the most well-equipped I’d ever seen in Sichuan, and the bathroom looked extravagant too.

Later, when I was out seeking a place for dinner at 9:00 PM, I realized that this town was almost empty. It was hard to find a noodles restaurant that was open. Didn’t know why the chef kept laughing while talking to me. He didn’t believe I wasn’t Chinese until I showed him my passport. However, he cooked delicious noodles.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 9: Langmusi To Barkam, Transit In Zoigê

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Langmusi And Tibetan Sky Burial Site

Langmusi was very dusty even in the early morning because janitors in their full workwear with masks and long gloves sweeping everywhere. I could only see their eyes and their beautiful feather brooms.

I started for what I thought the Sichuan side of the town, but couldn’t find the Hui mosque. Then I bought the entrance ticket for Sertri Gompa aka Dacanglangmu Saichisi.

Luckily, because I didn’t know the direction well enough, I guessed I should do what others do. Turned out I was at the northern side (Gansu side). I sought for the sky burial site after my companions split up to explore the surroundings by themselves. I saw people walking to the hill side, so I followed them. After a while, I stopped near a school and some Chinese women spoke to me. I could barely answer them, but they thought I spoke Chinese so well. However, I barely understood what they said because they used some local dialect. From their outfits, I thought they must be tourists from the countryside.

Surprisingly, I met the best English speaking person of China on the hill here where she happily told me I needed to walk up the way she went down to reach the Tibetan sky burial site. She also added that there were big birds and almost no people at the site now. Then I continued and saw only yaks. I was surprised again when I saw cars driving up to the burial site. Seemed like those people came from a different road and didn’t see the monastery. I walked around the site for a while, took some photos and videos.

At the farthest point of the journey above 3,500m was a plot of land surrounded by Tibetan flags where I saw many huge axes on the ground and vultures waiting on the mountainside. At first, the vultures seemed to merge into the background which I thought stones. When I looked carefully again, they made me startled and frozen for a while. Then I quickly calmed down as the vultures were very quiet despite their enormous appearance. I also saw many fragments of human bones and even a bloody tooth nearby. I didn’t wanna see straight into the bloody stuff. However, in the daylight, I wasn’t scared, I felt a bit lucky I found a sacred place like this.
https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17858287111867407/

I’ve never seen such a busy town like Langmusi in this Aba Prefecture. Though it seemed like a favorite tourist spot, it still attracted my attention. After getting down the hill, my team joined me, and we went to a crowded restaurant for lunch. The wonton soup was good, but I still preferred the dry wonton in Zoigê.

After taking a nap in the hotel, we went to the monastery nearby. I thought this Kirti Gompa aka Dacanglamu Ge’erdisi (on the southern/Sichuan side) was more beautiful, but it was just one big temple. People outside it looked more like camping to me because they were like just sitting there or finding a good spot to take some pictures. I walked towards to canyon, and my temple visit suddenly turned into a trek. Maybe I lacked info of the Namo Gorge before I actually saw it.

Wading through the stream, some horse keepers talked to me. They tried to get me on a horse trekking but I told them I was afraid of horses. (Actually I didn’t like riding on animals). He told me the valley would lead to a meadow. Two companions found me while I was slowing down so I decided to go back. The meadow was a little disappointed because the scene was nothing unique at this time of the year.

When I returned I met a Canadian guy whose face was redder than the Tibetans and a short-haired British girl who looked like a nun. He said my hat was from Canada, but I told him it was more Russian. He told me that he went to Vietnam, and actually the two of them were hitchhiking together after meeting in Hanoi. Lucy said the luggage was too heavy. Watching her carrying her backpack made me feel tired too.

I tried yak yogurt because a companion told me it tasted like Greek yogurt. But I smelled like the cow itself in this yogurt at the first taste. Nothing delicious about it.

Before dinner, I bought a panda faced craft item as a gift for my friend. After another fried rice meal, I decided to buy some Tibetan beef jerky for my sis. I really liked the packaging. Finally, I called it a day after 20,000+ steps.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Langmusi And Tibetan Sky Burial Site

JUNE 30, 2019

Cuộc đời ngắn lắm việc gì phải nhớ mãi không quên.
(Nhân sinh khổ đoản hà tất niệm niệm bất vong.)
//
人生苦短何必念念不忘。
//
Life is too short to remember forever.

P.s.: Picture taken in Langmusi, Sichuan and Gansu, China in 2019.

Continue ReadingJUNE 30, 2019

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 7: Zoigê To Langmusi

Really, Langmusi (Taktsang Lhamo according to Tibetans) was out of my initial plan. This was somewhere unplanned. Its name wasn’t in my last plan sheet in May. It was somehow a last minute decision. It turned out to be the best place of the journey.

As we all stayed in one room with 2 beds, I woke up quite early in the morning. Unluckily, the rain from yesterday evening has not stopped yet, hence my plan to trek a nearby hill was ruined. A bit later, I decided to go out with my umbrella and found a boiled corn for breakfast. However, the corn was so hard that I couldn’t finish it while it was still hot.

While we were roaming around Zoigê, a driver found me opposite the bus station and stopped for a chat. I was intending to ask for some direction. He told me that there was no direct bus from Langmusi to Mt. Siguniang and that I had to get back to here in Ruoergai first then go to Maerkang (Barkam). He offered 120 yuan per person for the trip to Barkam. I took his name card, but I didn’t think I’d hire a private car.

I met a cute Tibetan kid with his mother (?) on the street where he grabbed my hand and shook it gently which warmed my heart. It turned out that he was begging for money. Then I remembered having met many adult Tibetan beggars in Sichuan 10 years ago.

I finally had the best meal of this trip so far. I picked one of many restaurants opposite the bus station. The wonton was so good, and it tasted even better with the delicious dipping sauce.

The bus to Langmusi was the same with the one we took to the Flower Lake yesterday. However, we were stuck in an hour long traffic. Was it because today was Saturday? The bus driver who was informative yesterday also told me to get back to Zoigê with his bus if I wanted to go to Mt. Siguniang the day after tomorrow.

The bus passed some small streets on the way to the Langmusi bus station. Then it stopped at a small parking lot in front of a big gate. I guess this was one of the 2 famous monasteries of Langmusi as I saw a ticket collector.

When I checked in and put down my luggage, I went down to the hall to realize that there was some misunderstanding with the hotel owner and his father who took us inside. I had to bargain for the two rooms again. This must be the tallest building around here. I had to climb to the 3rd or 4th floor. The rooftop where we found to hang clothes was still 2 floors up.

It was around 6:30 pm and the two Hanoian girls didn’t wanna go see the nearby monastery yet. So I decided to hike the hill nearby. It didn’t look far and the day was still young. Luckily, the Dien Bien girl accompanied me at last even though she was afraid we couldn’t be back before it was dark.

This was my bravest experience of the trip, I finished climbing the hill passing old and damaged wooden stairs in a gloomy afternoon. On the way, I also had to passed a tree bridge with no handrails. It would be threatening to me if I did it alone.

The 2 of us got back to the hotel around 8 pm and I still saw the hill vividly from my hotel room. I tried to reheat the corn in the boiling water for dinner, but it was still too hard to eat.

The Hanoian teacher girl told me she counted the money and thought that we spent half of the budget. I startled at first, then realized that it was half of the journey already. For the rest, I didn’t think it would cost more than what we had already spent.

Check out my Instagram story of this day: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18015565684279704/

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 7: Zoigê To Langmusi

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

After one third of the journey, I discovered that I was able to buy a ticket, make a reservation, ask for directions, order food, etc. with my improving Chinese.

Though the bus departed at 10:00AM, it reached Zoigê Grassland aka Ruoergai Marsh at 12:30PM. As I was at a higher place than Songpan, I saw no trees, only grass, goats, yaks, and tents which reminded me of Tagong Grassland in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

I thought I would be here at 2PM. Luckily, I had enough time to find out the bus to Langmusi at 2:30PM also passed Huahu/Flower Lake. So I bought the ticket for 21 yuans (26 and we could go to Langmusi).

A woman took us to their hotel. 4 of us shared the 2 bedrooms in a room. I didn’t feel at ease but I hope I could sleep tonight.

I then found a big restaurant where many people was having lunch. I decided for a bowl of beef noodles. Hmmm, too much noodles and too little beef. Too salty as well.

We strolled around the bus station as we waited for the bus. Zoigê had something that reminded me of Kangding, maybe because it wasn’t as dull as I had thought. It had so many uptown-like stores. Maybe I was the first Vietnamese to have been to this town.

It took us 45 mins on the bus to be at the so-called Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve. Because it was rather late, I was worried of the bus going back, I asked some travelers to find out how much time needed for this place. It took me 2 hours instead of 1 like they said.

It was so cold and windy here (8-9 degrees celsius) despite sunshine, with not many flowers to see. If I were here in late July (as my initial plan), flowers would be in full bloom. However, I’d never seen so many gesanghua in the wild like in here.

When I was walking and waiting at the gate, I found out there was no bus back to Ruoergai. The taxi driver from Langmusi didn’t accept the bus fare. We went back to Ruoergai with 100 yuans (25 each). From what the driver said, I guessed Langmusi was not so far away.

Finally, I had a normal rice meal with eggs and tomato soup which cost me only 5 yuans in a Ruoergai restaurant.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 5: Huanglong

Because it was raining when we started for Huanglong, we decided to take the cable car to halfway. On the way to the top, I saw some precautions of health and oxygen, but didn’t experience any breathing problem if I walked slowly enough.

The view from the top lake was astonishing. If Mounigou was all lakes with crystal clear water, Huanglong had an incredible calcified scenery.

Finally, I did record some videos when the driver passed through the mountain tunnels.

I thought I was a picky girl over food, but turned out I could have anything that was convenient. There was nothing better than a beer over some barbecued food for a rainy evening. And those barbecue restaurants were near, too. Luckily, the Dien Bien girl finally agreed to go with me tonight. And she was kind enough to treat me.

From WeChat, I learned that the driver didn’t really go to Huanglong even though he was born here. I told him it was beautiful and he should go there in autumn.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 5: Huanglong

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 4: Mounigou

I didn’t have a good night sleep with people coming in and going out. Why did they have to make so much noise at night? I envied the other 2 Hanoian girls having their own room yesterday because there weren’t enough beds in the dorm rooms. And I found out the Dien Bien girl also had to work again early in the morning. What a nuisance having to work so hard on her vacation!

First I only intended to buy some tea, then I found myself buying some baozi for breakfast, too.

The driver took us to Mounigou Valley. The 2 Brits surprised me when they said they were students. They looked older. However, what I meant to say was they paid cheaper for the tickets here. We went to the Zhaga Waterfall for starters. My legs were so numb I didn’t climb all the stairs, just waited for them to go outside later. Turned out they took longer than I thought.

Before reaching the second place, the driver took us to a stop at a secluded monastery called Tara around 10:40AM. I walked inside with the driver and 2 Brits then walked around outside a bit. The driver seemed to be friendly with the monks here.

At 11:30 he drove us to the Erdaohai Scenic Area. There were more tourists here. Thank God the walkway was not as steep as the waterfall. I stopped after getting through the gate to have the leftover baozi for lunch.

The more I went inside, the more beautiful this place was. So many crystal clear lakes. I thought this place should have been more beautiful than Jiuzhaigou which were somehow ruined by the earthquake in 2017. But I wouldn’t know, as Jiuzhaigou was still closed at the moment.

At 2:30PM, I reached the top calcium lake because I saw people resting their feet inside. It wasn’t hot as I thought, but it turned out cold instead. When we walked out, it was just 3PM. In the morning, I helped the Brits tell the driver to come back late, but it turned out this place was not as big as Huanglong they’d seen yesterday.

I finally had to wash my clothes after 4 days in China. Because I couldn’t take a nap, I decided to buy tickets for Zoigê (Ruoergai) the day after tomorrow.

The four of us drank some beer in the garden. I then listened to my music on the phone, from Chinese to English to Vietnamese songs. Later, an old man with a guitar joined the fun with his singing Chengdu and some old Chinese songs I hadn’t known of, except for “Dang Ni Lao Le”.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 4: Mounigou

JUNE 26, 2019

Chờ một người nghĩ rằng tôi là người quan trọng nhất trên thế giới.
//
等一个 觉得全世界我最重要的人。
//
Waiting for the one who thinks that I’m the most important person in the world.

P.s.: Picture taken in Mounigou, Aba Prefecture, Sichuan, China in 2019.

Continue ReadingJUNE 26, 2019