As the day progressed, we eventually made our way to a guest house to sleep. The view was AMAZING and we were able to see the other mountain and the beautiful scenery. Perhaps the reason the view was so cool was because we were IN IT. We were in the other mountain, and had access to this incredible visual treat via the upstairs deck area, with no windows- just open air.
I debated spending two nights, and ended up with just one, ending our hike around midday the next day. Our group then split into two, those going back to Lijiang and those heading up to Shangri-La. I joined the Shangri-La group and off we went! Even higher into the mountains, and I ended up going with some Chinese friends to a Tibetan Guest House to spend the first night. This was incredible because it was run by a Tibetan family as a side job. We were essentially on a farm with yaks, cows, horses, etc. and living in a Tibetan style house. It had three sides which each looked sort of like individual trailer parks, and the last side was open. After taking numerous pictures with interesting looking Tibetans and causing quite the attention spark on the dance floor, Yuhan and I returned back to the guest house to find it locked...we called a friend to open it for me.
A Tibetan breakfast consisting of Tibetan Pancakes, Yak Butter Tea and some strange spice, which if enough is put into the Tea, turns it into a yogurt-like consistency. I found the Yak Butter Tea salty and good, yet I could not drink too much at one time. I love McDonalds butter, and I believe it must be made from Yaks! (not really, but it seems this tea is a liquid form of the butter!) We spent the day observing some Tibetan temples and architecture...wildly different from the rest of China. The temples had Buddhist Monks in them, and we were able to see these pillar-type things, adorned with the Tibetan Prayer Flags. Apparently, when a monk leaves a temple he is supposed to leave these flags...I am trying to gather more information about this. There was a tent composed of all of these flags that we saw as well!
The following day brought about an excursion out of the beautiful old town of Shangri-La and into the outskirts. A friend and I found a small wine factory on the main road and tried some, strong!! We later met some people and chatted for a while on our way into a smaller village. After scattering the farm animals and a brief conversation we headed back to the hostel.
The next day I hopped on a bus to Dao Cheng! This is heading West where there is a heavy Tibetan influence. The Tibetans and the Han Chinese seem to not understand each other's language always, so you know I am struggling to speak a new language now! Well, at the restaurant I ate at today I was actually understanding some of the conversation!! The people are quite friendly here, almost always waving and saying "hello" or "Ni hao" (Hello in Mandarin)!
I rented a bike and ventured out onto the Western Sichuan-Tibetan highway by bike, stopping at two small villages and a scenic lake. It was truly incredible, and I was able to sit down with locals and chat, not understanding much, but still! I learned that you are only supposed to walk around a Tibetan Temple clockwise for some reason, spinning these golden pillars that are outside the temple by their handles. There are usually between 5 and 8 per side of the building.
The scenery is quite breathtaking. Beautifully-adorned Tibetan houses are confronted by a river containing deep blue water and a plethora of rocks. Following the houses up you get taken over by the insane green of the hills, topped by the blue sky and clouds. Adding to the scenery are numerous Yaks and other creatures, along with the Tibetans, sporting their intricately designed clothing, which can range from full-out cowboy (including the boots!) or just brightly colored delights! Many woman wear a pink scarf-type/bandanna apparatus around their forehead, and many have wind masks for the long bike rides along the highways. The best way to describe this scenery would be an old-fashioned western movie, mixed with one of medieval times, and a seemingly "to-real-to-believe" backdrop. Just three hours west and I will be in Litang..to take place either tomorrow or the following day!
Random notes: I tried chicken foot tonight - it looked way too much like what it was so I could not eat much. I was also notified last night that there would be no hot water, actually no water at all today or tomorrow. This has been and will continue to be interesting :)