EP and Village Stays Near Tibetan Border
Well… it’s disappointing news to hear about the crew’s blockade on the Tibetan border but as this is a landscape seeped in Buddhism, it seems most appropriate to laugh at the misfortune. They did one better anyways by getting on the Mekong. If you haven’t heard, ethnic conflicts have again erupted in Lhasa between Tibetans and Han Chinese. So as interesting as it would be to be there, it’s probably not the safest place to be and probably the reason the crew was block from Tibet.
I had decided to bail on the first descent long ago because it sounded like stouter whitewater than I was interested in running. So five days ago the crew left me at a village just outside the Tibetan border called Falashua (sic). Since then, I’ve been trekking between villages in the surrounding mountains to get a feel for the countryside and the cultures.
While politically this region is still Yunnan, culturally it’s Tibetan. Prayer flags are hung between trees and rocks and every village you enter the first thing offered to you is yak butter tea. This brown concoction is a mixture of butter and water and tastes…oily. Listen to the sounds of yak bells. (the crashing sounds is when a couple slip on ice)
Right now, I’m sitting near 12,000 feet. My hands are freezing while I try to type. But it’s no wonder the Tibetan’s revere this landscape as much as they do. They have a knack for putting villages in idyllic places. The view from the ridge Falashua sits upon, if it weren’t clouded over at the moment, would be a massif of 22,000 foot peaks. Between the village and the mountains, the Mekong River flows thousands of feet below in an impressive gorge and clinging to the hillsides are terraces of Tibetan villages.
I’ll be posting audio and photo updates throughout this week about my experiences here, but the focus will be the culture and the challenges conservation organizations face in the Mountains of Southwest China. Lets just hope Travis, Trip, Andy and Adam can get in touch with the satellite phone but judging from the depth of the gorge beneath me, I imagine it’ll be difficult.
Listen to the Audio.
Preparing tea and food near Tibet.