A Tibet Outside Tibet (Part 2)

Xiahe’s Ambiance

(Continued from Part 1)

Xiahe, a small town of about 60,000 has a laid-back, relaxed pace of life that is a refreshing change from the busy urban lifestyle of Taipei as I’ve known.  The 7 nights I stayed in Xiahe is my first stay in a municipality of less than 1 million during my travels. There is one cafe in town with WiFi access, so the Internet, email, and social networking occupied only a tiny part of each day.  The quietude of Xiahe seemed to be spiritually purifying, with the presence of Labrang Monastery and the Tibetan’s devotion in daily life a refreshing change to the hustle and bustle of city life which I am accustomed to.   At first I jokingly complained of the lack of a Starbucks or McDonald’s; later on upon returning home the experience in Xiahe is remembered and missed as I return to fast-paced, and close-proximity city life of Taipei.

Day Hike 1

A young Tibetan woman whom we met at the hostel offered to guide us on a hike in the hills around Labrang Monastery.

On the hike.

Rocks stacked in prayer and devotion.

Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags seen on a hike surrounding Xiahe.

The self-timer released the shutter while I rushed to get into the group photo.

Good friends during the hike. (The successful group photo)

Clay mounds also used for prayer and devotion.

The remains of a monastery; according to locals it's 500-600 years old.

Another corner of the monastery's remains.

Remains of paint at the monastery's remains.

Pieces of paper scattered for prayer and devotion.

The prayer papers at a distance.

A Tibetan home on the hills surrounding Xiahe.

Day Hike 2

Seeing that there was not much vegetation in the hills surrounding Xiahe, we decided to hike to the patch of forest and terraced region in the hills that is visible from ground level.

Our goal, the forest in the hills. Seen from Labrang Monastery.

The terraced area around Xiahe via Google Earth.

Terraced area around Xiahe from the ground level.

The small patch of conifer forest in the hills around Xiahe via Google Earth.

The patch of forest from ground level.

A pole seen on the way to the hike.

My hiking companions in the distance.

During my solo descent from the hike.

Hiking up the hills was easy, but going down was not.  Stopping myself short of panic probably saved my life during the way down from the hills.

The narrow pass, no wider than 5 meters, on the descent.

Another view of the narrow pass.

The dense vegetation made apparent that very few hikers nor locals ventured up these hills.

On the way down.

Another view of the way down.

Further down the hills, on the way back to Xiahe.

The road to Xiahe in the distance.

Finally on the road to Xiahe.

Cave-in on the way to Xiahe.

Back into the town of Xiahe, solar panels for sale.

New walkway construction in Xiahe.

Labrang Monastery’s Festival Celebration

A celebration at Labrang Monastery on August 17, 2010.

Stupa at Labrang Monastery.

Celebration at Labrang Monastery.

Performer during the festivities.

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