Sunday, September 18, 2011

Riding into the National Geographic: With the Tibettan Nomads in Gansu

Now that school and work has started again and regular life has taken over, it almost seems a dream that back in August we stayed a night in a tent with the Tibettan nomads in Gansu. (This was on the same vacation that we visited Guilin, Xi'an, and Qinghai Lake.)

While it was actually pretty rough--bitterly cold and high elevation--it was incredibly special. Just riding into the rolling hills around Langmusi, I felt like I was arriving in a National Geographic picture. The fields were green with white mountains in the background and the hills were dotted with yaks. And our guides, who spoke Tibettan (funny to realize that Chinese was now our common language!) were extremely nice and hospitable.

The landscape. Of course the pictures doesn't really do it justice :-)

Inside the tent with our new friends.

Still in the tent. After a day of riding, we were all so hungry and tired. The food--rice with veggies--was delicious, though not everyone was awake when dinner was served!

Pretty in pink in the valley. The white tent on the left is a typical yurt where the nomads sleep. We slept in a tent just like that. (In fact, the owners of our tent went to sleep with the neighbors to make some room for the eight of us.) The most exciting thing about the night was that we couldn't go to the bathroom (read: pee in the field) by ourselves because the guard dogs were on the loose. If we had to go, we had to wake up one of our guides. Luckily it wasn't necessary!

The horses on which we arrived.
One of our guides taking care of our horses.
A new generation of nomads.
Also the new generation of nomads.

Staying warm during a break.

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