Continued from here
The package tour meant that we’d be driving back to Chengdu (takes a day) on the bus. However, there were numerous pit stops to make it interesting. The very first one was a Tibetan village. Passing by pretty yellow blossoms and structures made of mud, we were taken in by the guide into a house that had a brightly coloured elaborate door and the shaggiest mountain dog we’ve ever laid eyes on – who also happened to be called Wunscai.
A local guide gave us an overview of the lifestyle and living conditions of the people there. The average lifespan of the people there is 92 despite living on the harsh mountain side. They consider Lhasa, Tibet their most important pilgrimage centre. People from here go on foot while bowing every few steps- it takes most people all of 5 years to make the trip and get back home.
We were seated in the kitchen with the stoves and utensils at a very low level that allowed for cooking while being seated on low stools. The stove itself was made of iron and brass. Silver played a crucial role in their life whether it was for eating meals, the ornate waist band for women that was supposed to cure all bodily ills after childbirth, the water held in silver bowls used for massages, or silver, garlic, ginger, boiled egg white used inside a cloth for knee pains. (Details may be lost in translation. Please do not consider this medical advice.)
Their funeral ceremonies were interesting – the very healthy (those who have not had any medication all their lives) or the very respected (those who have completed the pilgrimage to Lhasa) are the only ones allowed to be left on the mountains for birds of prey to consume. This reminded me of the similar Parsi custom. It was touching that they took care of the medication bit so as to not make the birds ill. The temple was a very large part of their everyday life- where a majority of their income went to the temple. The remains of the temple priests were left atop Buddhist Pagodas after their passing. If children happened to die they were tied on trees as part of the funeral rituals. All other people were left adrift in the river.
Post this we were taken to an area to optionally purchase silver goods and other food. We did indulge and picked up some yak-milk sweets (taste like condensed milk-powder) while Summer also tried some barbequed yak meat. We also could watch the locals dancing away for a while and then headed back to the bus.
More of the bus ride and we reached our next pit stop, Chuanzhusi town– just beside a gushing river- for lunch, shopping and fun in a reconstructed Tibetan village.We enjoyed our silliness with the numerous options there- whether it was 3d paintings, a slanted house, funny mirrors that stretched and compressed us, pandas playing mahjong, or even the cheesiest photo-op in history- a gigantic lock in the shape of a heart. It also had interesting boards designating areas as the “Love Corridor”-where lovers would meet and profess their love for each other. The Minjianguan stone here is placed at the point of the source of the Minjiang river and the Yangtze river. It was an area filled with interesting things at every turn- whether it be Tibetan prayer wheels, stalls selling trinkets and food, prayer flags, or a wall of yak skulls (yes, that did escalate quickly). After lunch, we headed back to the bus.
We stopped on the way at a factory of sorts that made artefacts with yak horns- mostly combs and decorative pieces. We were taken through the processing chain and then into the store where we could purchase them as souvenirs if we wished to.
The route back didn’t disappoint either – numerous long tunnels, yaks grazing nonchalantly, and occasionally a yak-calf burst into a gleeful jump.
Up next: China – Chengdu: Of bustling markets and tranquil spaces