Xiahe 1/3 by Tripoto
Nancy & Joseph Gill
Our bus ride to Xiahe was a lively affair, packed with Tibetans, oversize bags and an occasional chicken. Passing through the high grasslands past herds of yaks and lonely villages we arrived at the bus station in the Chinese part of town. Walking past new hotels and buildings made of white tiles and blue-tinted windows, we strolled up the street towards Labrang Monastery and the Tibetan part of town. "Oh Mani Padmi Hum". "Oh Mani Padmi Hum". (Mantra - the jewel of the lotus). This chant of the Tibetan pilgrims echoed through the narrow alleyways as they circumambulated the monastery (always clockwise) spinning ornate hand prayer wheels, clutching prayer beads, or turning the hundreds of 3ft to 10 ft high wooden prayer wheels along the 4 km route. Some were completely focused, some prostrated themselves along the ground for hundreds of miles, others chatted merrily as they gave each wheel a good spin, and we even saw one man talking on his cell phone while 'praying'. Who knows, maybe he had God on the other end?
Mayank Shrivastava
A train ride from Xi'an to Lanzhou and then a 4-hour bus journey brings us to Xiahe. Xiahe is a is a tiny Buddhist town in Gansu province and home to the Labrang Monastery, the biggest monastery in China outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region. There is nothing much to do in this town apart from visiting the monastery but we stay here for 3 days nevertheless. After our visit to the monastery, we can trek the mountains surrounding the town for spectacular views of the monastery. Biking to the Sangke grasslands and camping out there for a night is also possible if the weather holds up fine. It is doable on a bicycle plus the views more than make up for the effort.
Mayank Shrivastava
Xiahe is a tiny Buddhist town in Gansu province and home to the Labrang Monastery, the biggest monastery in China outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region. There is nothing much to do in this town apart from visiting the monastery, but I stayed for 4 days nevertheless. It is that kind of place. The stories of the people living there, many of whom used to live in India and spoke Hindi, were an eye-opener for me. The things we take for granted or privileges for them. You can trek the mountains surrounding the town for spectacular views of the monastery. Biking to the Sangke grasslands and camping out there for a night is also possible if the weather holds up fine. It is doable on a bicycle plus the views more than make up for the effort. For information about renting tents, sleeping bags and bicycles, head over to the Snowy Mountain Cafe or look for a certain bloke called Gombo in Tara Guesthouse. He's a dude with an amazing smile. He must have a coffee shop by now. Accommodation options- Labrang Red Rock Youth Hostel and Tara Guesthouse, both have private rooms and dorms. We stayed at the Red Rock.