Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
195Trip End Feb 28, 2013
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Gansu Dhacang Lhama Hotel
November 28, 2011
Hézuò 合作 by bus to 郎木寺; Lángmùsì: 10:20PM to 2:00PM
Llama Monastery Hotel – 2 nights
In the most luxurious bus so far in China, we drove the 3.5 hours to Langmusi. Again, the scenery going past my window was fantastic grasslands where large herds of yak, sheep, and goats grazed, quaint Tibetan villages and snow peaked high mountains. Near Langmusi, what otherwise would have been a scenic lake surrounded by mountains and village, was ruined by the view of a massive power generation plant.
Langmusi (郎木寺; Lángmùsì - Tibetan: Taktsang Lhamo) is a village of 3000 inhabitants at an elevation of 3300 meters (10800 feet) on the border Sichuan and Gansu provinces. As we arrived, we could see its stupas and silver and gold monastery roofs and pine covered mountainsides. Langmusi does not have a bus station so the bus stops on a corner in town in front of the Black Tent Restaurant. The restaurant was closed. We had no idea where to look for a hotel. We did not have a map. We did have a list of hotel names from our guidebook from the upscale Langmusi hotel to a simple binguan (hotel) "…reached through the back of a shop on Main street." We were not even sure if we were on Main Street. The streets are not signed. We spotted Langmusi Hotel up a side road and went in to investigate. We went in and yelled “你好 nǐ hǎo”, “hello”, “hola”. The place was disserted. Judging by the undisturbed layer of dust on the check-in counter, passports or any other papers have not been slid across it in weeks. We stopped in a restaurant where we were ignored for 10 minutes before we left. We asked people on the street for “binguan, zai nar?” They shrugged and shook their heads. We saw several places with “hotel” in their names. Metal doors were rolled down over their entrances. We eventually found the hostel. It was closed too. We found a lady who worked at a shop next to a hotel sign. She told us the hotel was closed. We had to retract what we were thinking about these people who couldn't help us. They really did not know of a hotel in town that was open. We reluctantly checked out a crappy guesthouse.. The nice woman there showed us a grimy jail cell with two beds. And it had heating blankets! The shared toilet out back was a squat that we didn’t dare get close too. We were tired of looking for a hotel but we would not stay here unless there was no other option. Then 'bingo’ the Lhama Monastery Hotel right across the road from Snowy Mountain Café (closed) was clean, only120RMB, and with heat and hot water after 6PM in the evening.
We dropped our packs in our room and went out in search of a place for lunch. Across from our hotel and a few doors down from the Snowy Mountain Café was busy simple place with a giant picture menu on the wall with the names of the dishes in Tibetan script. I showed them my iPod with stir-fried green vegetables translated into Mandarin. She waved at the iPod, she didn’t know how to read Mandarin. We had forgotten that Tibetans have their own language. We pointed and ordered a few dishes from picture menu and planted ourselves on the only remaining open table. Soon a plates of decent green onion and yak meat covered noodles dishes arrived. They looked nothing like the pictures. The waitress delivered a plate of fried yak meat to another table. It looked and smelled delicious. We had to have some of that too. I went to the kitchen to order and learned that you just order it by the pound and it comes with a side of garlic and chili dipping sauce. I ordered a pound to round out our other dishes. It turned out to be great choice.
Things to see and do in Langmusi:
Serti Gompa (Monastery) (Dacanglangmu Saichisi) - temple where traditional Tibetian sky-burials can be observed three times per week
Kirti Gompa (Monastery) (Dacangnama Ge'erdisi) - temple on the southern hill
Hui Mosque - located close to the Sichuan side temple near the entrance gate
Horse Trekking – ‘burrr…to cold for that at the end of November
Hiking – Namo Gorge near Kerti Gompa is a good one
The is town compact enough to be totally walkable. We explored and walked up the road to Kerti Gompa on the Sichuan province side of town which dates to 1423 and is home to 700 monks in five temples and colleges. Kerti Gompa is distinguished by its temple roofs of silver color as opposed to the golden roofs of Serti Gompa across town in the Gansu Province side of town. We wandered through the narrow dirt paths among the residences and temples. Most buildings are wooden with some of white washed adobe with shingle roofs and stone to weigh it down. With the back drop of snow covered steep mountains footed by rolling farm and pasture land, I can tell you, Langmusi is not called little Switzerland for nothin’. I image when it is lush green in the summer, you ‘d almost expect Julie Andrew to be there singing…”The hills are alive…with the Sound of Music….” This place is definitively on my list of most scenic and culturally interesting places in China. Congestion is still rattling my lungs. We kept our walk short for today and started back to the hotel.
On the way, we passed more hotels including another grander looking Langmusi Hotel – It was one of the two hotels in town with an English sign that was open. We discovered Langmusi is loaded with guesthouses and hotels. But 90% of them close down for the winter, leaving all the remaining business to perhaps four hotels. All the restaurants catering to English speakers were closed for the winter too. We were so looking forward to apple pie and pizza that were promised by the guidebooks and travel sites, to be delicious. One the plus side, we virtually had the town to ourselves as tourist….
The next morning, we hiked southwest to find Namo Gorge. The gorge contains several grottoes including Fairy Cave which gives the town its name. ‘Langmu’ means ‘fairy’ in Tibetan. The views from the hill behind Kerti Gompa are stupendous. We entered the gorge over a low ridge and followed the river upward before returning along a small river that flows out back toward Langmusi. Dave scrambled up into several of the tiny caves along the way. One cave that went in the side of the gorge 30 feet had a chimney like opening upward to the top of the bluff. The others where more rock overhangs than caves as they didn't go far. Near the lower opening of the gorge are pray flags a small cavern with mani stones and a series water driven prayer wheels. It was a great hike.
Dave hiked over to Serti Gompa higher on the hill on the Gansu side of town. It dates to 1748 and judging by all the newer buildings and more sparkling roofs, appears to be wealthier than Kerti Gompa across the river. The views from there are also fantastic.
During our stay, we met very few Han Chinese and Hui people. Langmusi is predominantly Tibetan.