Trip Start Jul 17, 2007
12Trip End Aug 27, 2007
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Our bus to Langmusi was about to leave at 14:00. Before leaving Zoige, we went to a Tibetan restaurant nearby to fill our bellies with some food. Expectedly we got the attitude of kings in the restaurant, and immidiately got the best table in it. All the waiters wanted to serve us, and even some customers came to see the wonder. One of them came and sat next to me. We handshaked, and he started to ask question by silent: he was especially interesting in the Lonely Planet guide I brought with me. The only way I could communicate with this man - who looked like it is his lucky day - is showing him the pictures of Tibet in the book, and say "Lhasa" - the capital city of Tibet in its spiritual centre. I didn't know what caused him excitement, but it can be either our presence or the pictures from Lhasa. I couldn't even ask him, because he couldn't communicate in English. And not in Chinese as well - only Tibetan and body language.
After we got our lunch, people moved in the street. Our table, who had a window next to it, was exposed to the street. Occasionally people passed by, and some of them had the courage to attach their heads to the windows and STARE at us! At the beginning it was funny, definately an unforgettable incident. When it became a ritual occasion, we wanted to take a photo of one of them! When I took the camera, the man who stared at us moved away in a second. Without seeing these scenarios - I remember it like I have a full album of them!
www.langmusi.net), and it seems to be the major junction of Langmusi. There is only one street in Langmusi, and only several paved roads connect to it. You can walk from one side of the village to another within 10 minutes, or even less if you walk fast.
We managed a short conversation with the hostess of the acency. We chose a Tibetan two-days horse trek around the village, including 5 hours of riding at least every day. We found a place to spend the night that I can hardly call it hostel or guesthouse or anything similar - but the conditions were fine for one night until the trek begins - tomorrow morning.
I was almost impossible to stay a sleep after the beeping festivel that Langmusi's drivers arraged for us. We wasted the time with breakfast and wandering around until 9:30, and then took our bags to the acency and put them there before we went to the stable. The manager of the acency, who was also a professional horse rider, showed us the elementary steps we need to know before the trek. She was really nice, and dedicated a lot of time and patience to show us everything. She introduced us in front of the local guides - three Tibetan experienced horse riders.
We ate our lunch, which was genrally simple and plain, though filling. We even got a desert: sweet yoghurt made of yak's milk. The milk is unpasteurized, but boiled, which makes it clean and fat. The high percentage of fat in this milk made it so delicious. Later, we got some bowls with milk (yak's of course), and added instant nescafe powder. The taste was awesome, basically thanks to the fat percentage. I felt like the meal was authentic, because the ingredients were natural and available in these areas.
We arrived before sunset, and we enjoyed the light hours left to travel around the camp. This time it was not only one tent - but some, and the guides joined some friends of them who were in the tents in advance. They tied our horses, leaving Karchu to eat a little grass. It ate in an hour of riding more than I did in the entire day, and don't forget it was eating every time I looked at it during our breaks. We climed the mountain that the camp was at the foot of it. We knew we were in a high altitude, but couldn't feel it during the trek. When I climbed 6 steps, I felt like I was after a 2km running in the municipal park. It was amazing how exhausting was the climbing, even if it was less than 100m. It was still exhausting, but the landscape was undoubtfully worth it! We spent almost an hour at the top of the mountain, watching the sunset and the endless grazing lands of Gansu.
If you were asking, we were climbed to the altitude of about 3300m above sea level. It sounds not that high, (the Everest is 8848m high and Lhasa is 4000m high), but if you live in a city that its elevation is 10m above sea level, you can easily fill the sparseness of the air even if you have very good fitness capabilities.
When it got dark, we couldn;t see anything; there was soft light from far away, and the dogs, who barely could see anything either, didn't stop barking. We went to sleep in our sleeping bags, when there were "smoke traps" burning all around the camp, combined with the impressive non-stop barking skills of the dogs - so we couldn't really go to sleep. At the beginning I though it was the hazardous air pollution created by these traps (the thing they burned was yak's excrement, which burned fantastically for a long time) is horrible. After a while my lungs has adapted the air, and my brain activated the "selective hearing" mode, so the barking sounds like a distant matter. I finally could sleep.
I woke up not very early in the morning, when the camp started to arise and the sun appeared in the sky. I heard some girls playing, and even smelled the smell of cooking from the tent besides our sleeping tent. My nose told me that we are about to vary our diet, and the menu should be different this breakfast. It didn't mislead! The breakfast was a royal breakfast, Tibetan style. We got fresh pastry with vegetables, tomatoes, omlette and a soup made of carrot, tomatoes and eggs. We even got boiled Yak milk for our instant coffee. When the time has finished, we got up onto our horses and kept moving. Karchu, my hungry horse, helped me a little with getting up his back, because it was in the middle of a rich breakfast of green grass - and its position was easy for me to go up on it.
After a brief stop for lunch, we continued to cross the lawns, and finally could see Langmusi from a distance. Karchu was so full, so after a humongous dinner that lasts 24 hours he started to ride so fast, and I hopped on it until we got the the northern frontier of town. We arrived at the stables, walked to the agency - and went to eat dinner (although it was almost 17:00). And where can we eat? Of course - at Lesha's restaurant! I ate my (probably) last Yak burger in my life, and enjoyed every bite of it. It was terrific, and I certainly felt full afterwards...
We knew we couldn't arrive back to Chengdu today, but only tomorrow evening. We decided to make at least some of the way - and the most efficient way to arrive at Chengdu will be via Zoige. The guide in the horse trekking agency called a taxi for us. The nice Tibetan driver took us to Zoige in two hours, and also bought tickets for us to Chengdu, tomorrow morning.
We were happy that we knew Zoige even if it was only a little. However, we didn't know that finding a reasonable hostel in this town becomes a true challenge. We walked through the streets of Zoige, ignoring the staring faces of the people there, and searching for a normal hostel. The only normal hostels were overpriced - maybe more expensive than 4 stars hotels in Europe...
After an hour and a half of searching, we have arrived to a normal hostel called "Snow Mountain", 5 minutes walk from the bus station. Or at least we thought it was normal. A lovely Tibetan girl showed us the room. We couldn't communicate with her, because she didn't speak English at all and not even Chinese. (Wierd - isn't it?) Well, it seems that no-one else among the crew of the hostel could speak English. One man spoke a little Chinese, so we could show him things we wanted to say in the phrasebook, but it didn't help that much most of the time, even though their attitude were really hospitable. I wander who made the sign for them - which is written in perfect English...
After checking-in, we figured out (after an exhausting attempt to explain ourselves) that there is no shower in the hostel. Apparently, there are only a few home-showers in the whole town, since there are two public showers in it. Most of the inhabitants prefer to take a shower in a public place, rather than to maintain one at home. Sounds odd, but that's the way it is in Zoige. We went to sleep early, you can guess easily that you may not walk around Zoige after dark...
We woke up the day after at 5:30, made our final orginizings before going to the bus station. Zoige at this time of the day looks like a legendary imaginary ghost city. We arrived there on time, and the bus departured a minute or two after. The ride was a bit similar to the previous ones, but one only riddle is still unsolved for me: How come we went through Guanghan, 40km north of Chengdu, around 13:00, and arrived at Chengdu at 16:30? I heard some versions for this mystery, but I think I can ride 40km in bicycles faster than the last three and a half hours of this bus ride. Am I wrong?
Anyway, in Chengdu, after arriving to the alternative Sim's hostel (Sim's garden - which is a lot better than the Cozy in my opinion), all we wanted to do is to take a shower and rest a little bit. We did it happily, and after dark we thought it would be nice to feel at home a little bit, and go to Pizza Hut in the centre of the city. (Last time I ate Pizza Hut in my homeland I was too young to study for my final examinations in highschool, but Pizza Hut reminds me home more than any other oriental restaurant in Chengdu - fact of life).
The meal, which was a good culinary experience but a lot more than than considering the situation we were in - after an exhausting horse trek that includes three days without taking a shower - it was really something special. Even though it was "just" Pizza Hut...