Categories
china Travel

THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS

I woke up early to go to the station and take the tour to see the Warriors of Xian, the east circuit, the day was great! Me and Denise went together, I regretted taking the tour, we went through several expendable places and could have saved on tickets, since you only pay what you are to visit, besides the transport (USD 1.30) and the guide (USD 1.15), which were cheap, the tickets were expensive! We spent over an hour in a jade shop, despite the time spent no one was interested in buying anything.

The guide explained something in the van, but arriving at the place it had another guide proper to the tourist attraction, anyway we did not understand everything and ended up walking alone. And for the Warriors of Xian it had to pay another guide separately.

The tour was as follows:

•            Lintong Museum, it was waste of money, it could not be worst. The guide tricked us saying it worth.

•            Mount Lishan, where Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist generals took refuge with the advance of communism, it was reasonable.

•            Xiangyu Barracks, only a few replicas of the Terracotta Warrior statues.

•            Qinling Palace, there was only a palace model and a few things in miniatures.

•            Museum of The Eight Wonders, it was reasonable, with mock-ups of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World plus the Terracotta Warriors, the Eighth Wonder.

•            Terracotta Warriors, the visit to Xian’s Warriors was half-race, the guide gave us only an hour and a half, which left me reviled.

The entry was RMB 90, I paid RMB 45 (USD 5.80 with the student card), it is better to go without much expectation not to be disappointed. There are three sheds, the main one being the largest and with hundreds of warriors. It was nice, but I expected to see the carriages, but there was only one and this one was in a glass, I wish I’d seen it in droves. And as for the soldiers, I expected to see closely and walk among them to see details of the faces, but it was not so. The photos I took up close with the warriors were replicas and were photographed elsewhere.

Altogether there are more than eight thousand statues of soldiers and horses in natural size and more than one hundred battle cars, arranged in regiments of infantry, cavalry and archers, not to mention the generals and officers who commanded the silent army. The pits where they were buried occupy a surface of 20 km², the ones that can be visited were sheltered by an immense pavilion and constitute only a part of the complex connected to the mausoleum of the emperor, which extends over an area of 56.2 km². They were buried about 2200 years ago. In 1974, a group of peasants from Xiyang village who dug a well by Mount Lishan discovered the first pieces of terracotta statues, a type of baked clay, and ancient bronze weapons.

The discovery of terracotta statues contributed to the scholars coming to a clearer conception of the dynasty of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di. Today it is already known that it was in this period that the standardization of writing, currency, weights, measurements and the width of the axles of vehicles used in transport took place. The emperor is also credited with the beginning of the construction of the first version of the Great Wall.

Qin Shi Huang, his real name was Ying Zheng, was a feudal lord endowed with political and military qualities, cruel and tyrant. He ascended the throne at the age of thirteen, conquering and eliminating six rival kingdoms, founding China’s first unified state, the Qin dynasty, which grouped a large number of ethnicities. He adopted the title of Shi Huang Di (founding emperor) and lived about fifty years, from 259 BC to 210 BC.

Strongly superstitious, Qin Shi Huang believed in the eternal life of his kingdom and dynasty, he began to build his mausoleum soon after ascending to the throne. The works lasted for 36 years and even requested more than 700,000 men, most of whom were convicted and prisoners of war. The tomb itself, stood at 115m high, today due to soil erosion reduced to 70m, and is surrounded by two walls. The complex host a palace where the emperor’s stone sarcophagus was placed, surrounded by objects and statues in silver, gold and precious stones of incalculable value.

The first cesspool contains an infantry battalion supported by horse-drawn cars, distributed according to a precise war strategy; the second was filled with divisions of archers and cavalry; the third reserved for the General Staff. In addition to the military cesspits 1500m from the mausoleum, the complex comprises cesspits with statues of civilians and hundreds of other galleries, in the mass graves were sacrificed the craftsmen who worked on the work – these ditches reproduce the land empire of Qin Shi Huang. The warriors and horses symbolized the elite army that guarded it in its passage to the other world. It is estimated that these statues have been cooked at a temperature of 950ºC to 1050ºC and their quality and resistance reveals well the technological level of Chinese ceramics, more than 2000 years ago.

At night, we Brazilians ate Moroccan food made by Regiane, we ate with the right hand. The flat and baked bread, called “nan” was similar to a pizza, we dipped the “nan” in the pan to try to catch the meatballs in a red sauce, which was not tomato.

Xian terracotta warriors.            

The next day it was hot. Denise left our city this morning, but maybe I’ll find her again in Taiwan.

At lunch I was going to look for another Cantonese restaurant, but on the way I ended up meeting Henry the Uighur, and we went to eat typical Uighur food with two other friends of his who had not yet adopted a name in English, suggested and they readily accepted: Jack and Tommy, one came to study English and the other French. We ate the chopped pasta by hand and the lamb kebab, which incidentally was something that I ate most in Xian. This time they paid the bill, because I had paid Henry another day. As they were Muslims they had concerns about food, so we did not go to the Cantonese restaurant, they did not eat pork and I think they didn’t want to eat any dish made in the same pot the pork was made either.

I always made a point of paying the bill, because most of the people I knew were students and life here wasn’t easy, but they insisted on paying. Anyway, I always took my friends to a cheap restaurants, so no one would spend too much.

The dinner was also the farewell of Alexandre, who would spend only a couple of months in Brazil. We went to the wonderful Thai restaurant “Banana Leaf”, he ended up paying the bill.

The next day it was no longer hot and the sky was half overcast, the temperature was good. I had a sandwich at home, it should have been the second time I had my meal myself. It was more practical to go out to eat and sometimes it would come out even cheaper when I ate simple things.

I studied Mandarin and took a Cantonese class with Teresa. I went out to dinner with Teresa and Steven at a Cantonese restaurant. Cantonese is the language of southern China, from Guangzhou Province.

I haven’t had diarrhea in a long time, I didn’t miss it. Normally the foreigners had here, Regiane was already a whole month with diarrhea, but Daniela, extraordinarily, had diarrhea once for a whole year. I think I only had about three or four.

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

THE IMPERIAL TOMBS

I woke up around 7:00 in the morning. I took a bus to the train station to join the tour. The traffic in the vicinity of the station is always very complicated.

On the highway there was traffic jam and everything was stopped. The cars started to go back in the other lane. My bus where there were only Chinese did the same, returned to the toll site to be able to take the highway on the other side by the opposite hand. I was a little apprehensive, because the cars and trucks came from the front giving high headlight.

Due to the delay, we didn’t go to one of the museums, maybe I hadn’t missed anything at all. The sights I went to were:

•            Maoling Museum, a well-kept place with carved animal-shaped rocks belonging to the Han dynasty (206a. C to 24d. C.), its construction began in 139a.C. It was 40km from Xian.

•            Qianling Museum, was a kind of history museum with wax statues, mockups, reconstruction of ancient scenery, nothing impressive.

•            Qianling Mausoleum, it was interesting, there was an outdoor corridor with some statues on both sides and a hill to climb. Belonging to the Tang dynasty (618D.C. to 907d. C.), had several tombs around him. It was 50 miles from Xian.

•            Tomb of Princess Yong Tai of the Tang Dynasty. At the site there was a tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel was the large black stone sarcophagus of the young and beautiful princess who was sentenced to death at seventeen by her tyrant grandmother in 701.

•            Faman Temple, last place visited and the furthest 120km from Xian, beautiful place with monks, was a Buddhist temple, but after so many temples, it looked all the same to me. There was a thirteen-story pagoda. Outside I ate the “Chinese Shwarma”, the bread was baked on the plate and the meat was precooked before it was grilled.

Surprisingly no one smoked on the bus!

The workers work till late, day and night they are opening or closing holes in the street or sidewalk. Men and women, often ladies, in normal attire often without the use of company uniform. In another city, I saw people paving the road without the machines we know, all manually, for example, without the use of the truck with steamroller. To open a hole, they didn’t use a jackhammer, they hammered with their hands anyway. Of course not every place was like this, in some places should use modern machines.

Chinese workers

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

THE MILLENARY CHINESE CUISINE

Today it was a sunny day and a good weather. I looked at the map of the city and took a bus to the monument that marks the beginning of the Silk Road, it started in Xian and ended in Baghdad.

While exchanging a few dollars in the bank, I began to smell an unpleasant smell, I looked at the sole of my shoes, but there was no indication of having stepped on something unwanted, I noticed then that the smell came from the street, the so-called “stinky tofu”, the fermented soy cheese, a Chinese delicacy that usually emits an unpleasant odor.

From the monument I went to the center (“Bell Tower”), it was very crowded, some foreigners and especially many, many Chinese! The whole week would be like this, due to the holiday week. I finally found the Grand Mosque, which had a half-hidden entrance, but I decided to visit it in another day. Then I stopped by the “electronic mall” to buy a microphone for my computer.

I took a Cantonese class with Steven and last night I had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant, my favorite. I used to go there about five times a week. And always asked for something different in the menu of the day. To order the food, I had to look at someone’s dish at the table near by and point out that I wanted it, or I could read the ideogram of beef to make any request that had that ingredient. The restaurant was small and very dirty, the price was at the average local price, ranged from USD 0.50 to 1.20. And I had to share the table with any local, even if the table was already occupied, like it was in a college canteen, it used to fill up with students. It was in front of the XISU, where the “English Corner” took place, just across the avenue.

The next day once again made a good time. I tried to visit some temples in the south of the city, according to the guide, just take bus 215 until the end, and from there take a “rickyshaw”, the motorcycle cab with cabin, in South Africa it was called “rick”, but no one knew how to inform me anything. Frustrated, I went to the train station at the north gate of the wall, checked the tour package for tomorrow, for the Circuit of the Imperial Tombs, the western circuit. And not to lose the habit, I ended up strolling in the center.

I found a Taiwanese restaurant in the center, near the south gate, where I finally found the “zhong zhu” or “ba zhan” in Taiwanese, in Brazil they call it Chinese “pamonha”, but there is no similarity, the only similarity is the fact that both are wrapped in leaf of some plant. The “zhong zhu” was made of a kind of sticky rice. I thought it would be easy to find this food here in this country.

A funny thing is that sometimes on the city map it had a historical point, a tomb, but it couldn’t be found at all, as if it had been removed.

With so many daily walks, I’ve lost about 3kg in these two and a half months. Excellent, I was getting in shape!

The variety of ingredients and ways of preparing the dishes make Chinese cuisine one of the richest in the world. There are more than ten thousand dishes and about twenty different regional cuisines. In an immense country, with great climatic and landscape differences, there is a wide variety of dishes, dependent on an infinite range of products. Chinese cuisine has strongly influenced Japanese cuisine and many Southeast Asian countries, in addition to Central Asia, not to mention its influence on the world cuisine, after all noodles are a Chinese invention taken to Italy.

The hunger, poverty and wars that marked the country’s history caused the Chinese to set aside food taboos and take literally advantage of anything that could be taken to the mouth. Alongside rice, soy, pork, fish and vegetables, exotic delicacies often appear to the Western palate, such as shark fin, tiger penis, dog and cat meat, bat, snake, scorpion or locust.

In ancient times, the guests used the chopsticks and the spoons. There were no knives on the table because all the food was cut into small pieces so they could be caught with chopsticks. It was inconceivable to cut the food on the table while eating, it was considered something rude.

When preparing a typical Chinese meal, the cook is usually guided by various principles. The main one is the Taoist of Yin and Yang, the two complementary opposites. In the usual round table, where everything is arranged at once, soup, rice, pasta or bread, vegetables, meats, poultry or fish cooked in different techniques usually appear. One dish should be sweet (Yin) and the other salty (Yang); one cold (Yin) and the other hot (Yang); one soft (Yin) and the other crispy (Yang). The final picture is a feast that stirs all the senses. A good Chinese dish obeys four commandments: it has color, aroma, taste and presentation.

The Chinese believe that the meal should be a joint experience and this translate the cooperation that exists between family and friends. People serve each other in small portions.

Although they have a common base, it is possible to separate Chinese cuisine into four major regions:

•            from the North (Beijing), which was for years the capital of the Empire;

•            from the Central Maritime Region (Shanghai), where the handling of fish reaches its greatest refinement;

•            from Sichuan inland, sweet and very characteristic;

•            from Guangzhou (Guangdong), which mixes the elements of all.

The gastronomy of Guangzhou is the best known, due to its richness and diversity to a historical fact, the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 when emigration to the south was general. The venerable Beijing cooks and their kitchen equipment from the imperial palace made a long march. On their way they collected the great dishes from the kitchens of the mandarins of the provinces, which were thus incorporated into the Cantonese cuisine. In Guangzhou, breeding animals such as dog, cat, snake and monkey go to the plate. Even in China, this cuisine is considered very cruel. What the Chinese talk about this cuisine is that: “you eat everything that has four legs but the table, everything that flies except the plane, everything that swim but the boat”. There are always people who try to organize movements against this cuisine; but on the other hand, there are a lot of curious people.

Rice is the main item of an Asian cuisine. It is so essential that it incorporated the way of expressing itself, when a Chinese receives a visit at home, he always asks “have you eaten rice?” instead of simply asking “have you eaten” or “have you had lunch?”.

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

NATIONAL DAY AND THE SECRET CHURCH

Today was the national holiday of October 1st. The Chinese have been celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. The holiday lasts a week because it ends up joining with the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s one of the most important holidays here in China. There are parades and shows all over the country, but I didn’t watch anything.

The sun came up a little bit and the weather was nice, but with a slight mist. On the Sunday morning I went to visit a clandestine evangelical Christian church along with a Chinese graduate in English – I had a Xianese lunch there. I was anxious because I always heard about these “secret” and “illegal” churches. In fact, as there is a certain restriction on freedom of religion, the faithful end up gathering secretly in their homes. A Korean pastor was expelled from Xian due to his pastoral activities. There is still persecution of Christians and members of other religions and sects, people are arrested, tortured, sent to labor camps and some are “missing”. Every Christian church must join the Movement of The Three Autonomies (MTA), being the Patriotic Church, the puppet of the Chinese Communist Party (PCC), otherwise it is considered illegal, clandestine and in some cases criminal. The policy of freedom of belief is a big lie, it is easy to search on the internet news of persecution against Catholics, Protestants and members of Falun Gong, Buddhists and Muslins in China.

In the second half of 1950, the camouflaged religious oppression began, under the pretext of political reform, called the “Movement of the Three Autonomies”. By virtue of this movement, the Church in China should completely get rid of foreign influence.

The three autonomies are:

•            Autonomy of government, that is, the guarantee of church leadership to the Chinese, without any kind of external interference;

•            Propaganda autonomy, that is, faith should be propagated only by the Chinese;

•            Economic autonomy, churches should be maintained only with Chinese and never foreign funds.

Official statistics say that in China there are 10 million Protestants, all from the Patriotic Association, born of the MTA. The “stowaways” are estimated at 50 million. In 2005 alone, the Chinese government arrested 1958 people among pastors and faithful.

Christianity was introduced by the Nestorians in China in the 7th century (after Christ, of course), as it was the Islam. Buddhism was introduced in the 1st century BC, Taoism arose in the 6th century BC, and Confucianism emerged in the 4th century BC.

In the afternoon, Steven and I went out to walk a little aimlessly and ended up going for a walk in the Botanical Gardens. Bland and ill-taken care of by the way. I was much more in the mood to see the National Day celebrations. In the evening I went to see the fountain show at the Great Pagoda with Kang. There were groups of foreigners excursions, in addition to many Chinese, it’s too many people in this country.

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

THE “ENGLISH CORNER”

The weather was bad and I had no hot water. Flavio and I went to take a shower at Jade’s house. And at night I went to the English Corner with Regiane. The “English Corner” takes place every Thursday night in the square of XISU (Xian International Study University). Hundreds of Chinese students gather there to practice English or simply to have a contact with some foreigner, others wanted to show off before colleagues. I was glad that Regiane was with me, so she attracted a lot of Chinese, although I wanted to practice my Chinese not English, it was fun. It is was possible to contact a Chinese who worked in the auto parts industry and wanted to expand operations to Brazil.

When the Chinese saw Regiane, a foreign women, they soon began to coalesce around her, like moths vying for their space around a lighted lamp. So, Regiane had attracted enough people not to be able to answer the hundreds of questions and they saw that I was next to her not facing her, and every now and then I talked to her in Portuguese. Then they started talking to me, because I also answered the questions addressed to her to realize that I was from the outside. Then another circle was formed around me, which expanded a little more, like cells in division during mitosis, I no longer could see Regiane in the crowd.

The students were mostly girls, students of foreign language or simply people graduated from another course who wanted to learn English. Sometimes even a child would show up to practice or just to see a foreigner. We arrived between seven and eight o’clock at night, Regiane was tired and left before, I stayed until about 11pm. Next Thursday I would go again to have fun!

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

NO LIGHT AND NO WATER

Today I had no electricity. Since the water heater was solar, all I had to do was hope for the sun to shine, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to shower or would have to take a cold bath or go to someone’s house with a gas heater.

In the afternoon I went to the post office downtown to send some postcards.

Since it was dark, we suspended the private class at night and went for a walk on Kang’s campus, I hitchhiked on her bike. Kang and I always had good conversations about religion and politics, but because my Chinese vocabulary was limited, we always talked in English. I loved provoking her by criticizing communism, Chinese habits and the controversial issue of Taiwan. She had a friend who wanted to play soccer with me, just because I was Brazilian, but I didn’t play football. The Chinese think that all Brazilians play soccer, just as Brazilians think all Chinese practice kung-fu. I didn’t practice either, much to everyone’s frustration.

The next day it had no water! So in the morning I went to the KFC’s toilet, about fifteen minutes walk from home, it was very clean but it had to squat. I took the opportunity to study right there, at the KFC table (not in the toilet). In the afternoon I slept at home and then studied, now I knew a hundred Chinese ideograms. I had class last night. I remember when I was a child and in São Paulo sometimes lacked either water or electricity.

Written by Traveler Ni

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

THE HISTORIC CENTER OF XIAN

Xian (Shaanxi Province) is a very old and planned city with more than 3,100 years of history and culture. It is also one of the ancient capitals of China.

The center is surrounded by a huge wall, forming a rectangle of 12km of perimeter surrounded by a moat, is the most preserved wall in China, with its proper repairs. In the center is located the “Bell Tower” and the “Drum Tower”. The city wall separating the center of the suburb was originally built in 1370 in the Ming Dynasty, but only took the current form with bricks in 1568. It has 12m high and its base 18m wide, as well as several watchtowers.

The “Bell Tower” is the heart of the city although it is not at the epicenter of the wall, it was built in 1384, rebuilt in 1582 and restored in 1739, obviously has a large bell, made of bronze. The architecture is typical Chinese and its green roof forms the largest and best preserved “Bell Tower” of all China.

The “Drum Tower”, a few meters from the Bell Tower, is a larger building and contains dozens of huge drums. Behind the Drum Tower was the famous Muslim Quarter of Hui minority. They are said to be descendants of 8th-century Arab soldiers. The streets were narrow and the grocery stores, restaurants and stalls sold typical Muslim things, such as sheep’s head to eat the brain.

I walked from the south gate of the wall (it is the main entrance) to the west gate and then to the north gate. The day was cloudy, better than fog, because visibility is better without that opaque sky that was bad for photos.

Xian also have its department stores with the famous brands in the center.

The next day, despite being Tuesday, I went to do a biking, for me it was a “Sunday”. And the day was sunny and clear skies, good for photos! The biking was on the top of the city wall, from the south gate I followed clockwise to the west and then to the north, where the railway is, passing through several watchtowers. I paid an expensive bike renting, considering local standards, $2.50 for a hundred minutes. From the north gate I walked to the “Bell Tower”, I would still pass dozens of times through the center.

Biking on the wall.

Xian soldiers in the city center. Bell Tower in the background.

Continue Exploring on at the Traveler Ni Youtube Channel
Categories
china Travel

BACK TO XIAN

My trip from Lanzhou to Xian was a string of delays, the bus delayed an hour, stopped to be repaired for another hour, had a detour on the way and a lot of traffic, and the road was stopped because of works, there were many trucks on the single narrow lane between the mountains. In the middle of the road appeared a lady selling food in styrofoam marmites brought in an aluminum tray, I do not know where it came from, but I ended up buying one and it was warm.

The forecast to arrive at 7pm was totally wrong and I arrived at 1:30 am at Flávio’s house, without remembering which condominium or floor it was. I was lucky to find a resident coming in and borrowed his cell phone to call. I was obviously fooled as to the length of the route, Chinese likes to cheat!

In the next two months I would devote myself to the studies of Mandarin and Cantonese in Xian. It was September 1st. 2006, my day of gravy, rest day and lots of rain. At least it was fresh, Xian is usually very hot, but the season was over. It was also the day to do my accounting, edit photos and update my blog.

The next day I met Regiane, a Brazilian from Ceará who was studying Chinese in Xian, she lived in the same condominium as Flávio. We had lunch all together.

The dinner was with American students at a supposed to be a Brazilian steakhouse. I was anxious, but it was a mistake, only the way of preparation was Brazilian, but the meats and other things had nothing to do with it. No picanha, fraldinha, contrafilé or filet mignon. I’d have to wait until the next year to kill the longing.

On Sunday I went to a Sunday service with the foreigners at Anita’s house, an American who grew up in Brazil, she loved Brazil and had a northeastern accent. The whole day was “smog”, glad it does not exist in Brazil, it was a sunny day but the sky was covered by a fog, taking all the liveliness of a clear sky.

I noticed that in China there is no squeegee and it is difficult to find beverage machines as in Japan or Taiwan.

Categories
china Travel

CLIMBING TO LANSHAN

Today the weather was good and I have walked a lot! I hiked from the hotel to the top of Lan Shan mountain here in Lanzhou, at an altitude of 500m, the mountain was behind the train station as in Xining. I was going to take the cable car to the top but it was packed and the hike didn’t seem to difficult so I have decided to climb the mountain – it must have taken about 2 hs. I expected it to be more difficul, but it was a lot easier than Grouse Mountain in Canada or Villarrica Volcano in Chile, perhaps because I was already in better physical shape compared to my first few weeks of travel. From below, the mountain looked very high, and from the top it looked even higher! The buildings seemed low and small, the city looked like a mock-up and the tiny cars and trains seemed like toys.

At the top there was an amusement playground and restaurants, all empty. It also had a nine-hole golf course and a drive range to practice the shots, where I played fifty balls.

Categories
china Travel

XIAHE, THE TIBETAN CITY

From Xining to Xiahe, I took a mini bus for 6h15m full of Tibetans and entitled to the burping show by the Tibetan lady who sat next to me. Halfway through the tight bus stopped to pick up passengers who were sitting on stools in the middle of the corridor.

The way to Xiahe was very beautiful, again between dry and green mountains, rivers and lakes. It may seem repetitive the description, but I guarantee that the scenery is not the same as the previous ones, each has a particular beauty.

Xiahe is an inland city in Gansu Province south of Lanzhou, tipycally Tibetan and population of 150,000 people. Here Tibetan is the spoken language and the writing is different as well. There were many westerners tourists around here, as well as other minorities, such as the Huis and Salars, who are Muslims, I could not see the difference between these two ethnic groups, which by the way are different from the Hans, despite being low and with “pulled” eyes. The Tibetans, on the other hand, are the majority, about 70% of the population, and very different from the Huis, Hans, Salars or Uighurs, they were taller, darker and well-protruded nose, in addition to “pulled” eyes.

The town was very small, the smallest I’ve been here in China so far, it was possible to know the city in an hour on foot. There was only one avenue that cut through the city along 4km, whose Daxia River ran parallel. It was surrounded by mountains too, but quite different from Lanzhou or Xining.

It was a tremendous cold, I had no clothes suitable for the weather, because I expected to travel only to Xinjiang, I spent a cold and I got a flu on this day. But since I was disguised as Chinese, without embarrassment, I was scarred anywhere.

I arranged to meet Laetitia and Oriane, the two French women I met in Xining. Laetitia was blonde and taller than me, I think she was 24, and she was going to Lao to do volunteer work. Oriane was also a blonde in her forties, she laughed at everything and would go to do volunteer work in Cambodia.

In the afternoon I went to Labrang Monastery with Laetitia, close to the hotel where I stayed, the Oversea Tibetan Hotel, which by the way I sneaked and used the bathroom of the private rooms, since the doors were open, instead of using the shared bathroom that belonged to the shared room. Remember that here some hotels reserve some rooms for backpackers, and the shared bathroom comes along with the package.

In the evening we went to have dinner, Laetitia, Oriane, Vanessa a french brunette and curly hair and an Englishman, I was bothered by their cigarettes, Europeans smoke as much as the Chinese. I ate “tsamba”, a typical Tibetan food, bad by the way, it was made of ground barley ground in flour, one can eat adding tea and/or sugar and butter, I did not finish this meal and alone I went to another restaurant to eat a good pasta. Tibetan tea is medium salty and oily. Feeling cold I borrowed Laetitia’s blanket.