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Seven Weeks in Tibet: Part 3

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<< previous installment <<

I was delighted to have a free day with nothing scheduled. It was a lazy morning -- I did laundry, hung my clothes out to dry on the roof (where I encountered an older woman with a British accent who was getting high) and then hooked up with Bev for a leisurely day of exploration around old Dali. We covered not only the old cobblestone-paved city and its offshoot side streets, but also many streets and dirt paths outside of the city walls, often ending up at the entrance to someone’s yard, at a gate or a stable.



We stumbled upon a lively market and, despite my attempts to refrain from taking photos (after all, how many photos of a market can I take? Lots it would turn out), I couldn’t pass up the photo op. The usual suspects were present as always, but a few things in particular caught my eye. You’ve heard of chicken (or rooster, as the case may be) in a basket? How about baby in a basket? No, the baby wasn’t for sale.



There was also a guy selling chili peppers -- nothing unusual about that -- but what was interesting about this guy was that he was grinding them by hand. More accurately, he was crushing them with a giant metal pestle -- a rod of at least four feet in length -- in a stone mortar, to customer specifications. I would see stalls in other markets that sold chili peppers in whole and crushed forms, and even machines that crushed the chilies to different degrees of fineness, but this would be the only time I saw them being crushed in this manner. In no other market I visited in China or Tibet -- and I visited a few -- did I see anyone crushing chili peppers in this manner.


By 2:00pm we were ready for a coffee, but for the most part the coffee in China is either dreadful (it is, after all, a tea-drinking culture) or limited to Western tourist destinations and therefore dreadfully overpriced (think Starbuck’s prices) and often mediocre at best. We settled into a place that looked like it would be a happening nightspot in about seven hours and discovered, to our great delight, something called Yunnan coffee. It was served black and it was dark, rich and brewed just right. Milk was available when we asked (the young man working the bar was the only employee in evidence and he didn’t speak English) or, rather, when a French-speaking fellow who seemed to live behind the bar (the building, not the counter) asked, in Chinese, for milk on our behalf. This was the first I had heard of Yunnan coffee and I would look for it elsewhere, though outside of Yunnan province and farther afield it would be difficult to find. We settled into a couple of sling-back chairs in the courtyard behind the bar, under a giant umbrella, and enjoyed the coffee (and, if you must know, a bit of a bitch session) while being pestered by a small, flea-bitten kitten that was especially fond of Bev.

In desperate need of a snack, Bev and I came upon a man selling a crepe-like item on one of the cobblestone offshoot streets in old Dali. He had a wok full of coals with a small grill placed across two thirds of it. He took out paper-thin sheets of a white substance that I thought might be cheese or maybe tofu skin, but I was skeptical of my theories because cheese is not prevalent in the Chinese diet and, as I watched, I wasn’t certain that tofu skin would behave the way this product did when cooked. Then again, there are some in the region, like the Bai, who do incorporate a limited amount of cheese in their diets. I stopped to photograph the chef and we were so curious we decided we had no choice but to try it -- otherwise we wouldn’t have a chance in hell of figuring out what the white stuff on the grill, now puffed up like a hot pita, was.

The people ahead of us, who had stopped to get their mystery crepes, were now happily munching and walking away. We pointed to indicate that we wanted one and observed the whole process again from start to finish. The three rectangular sheets of white stuff went on the grill. As they began to puff, the grill-master turned them. While they cooked further, he took a crepe-like item out of a covered pot to his right. As each rectangle browned and puffed, he removed them and placed them -- starting in the center of the crepe and working outward with a great deal of overlap -- over the area of two rectangles. He gestured towards a number of condiments in some uncovered plastic containers just next to the pot. Not knowing what most of them were, we nodded cluelessly as he pointed at each one and then spread a bit of each on top of the white rectangles, now covering about half the area of the pancake. He then placed the pancake on top of the grill, open and face up, and folded it into a neat rectangle, approximately the size of one piece of white stuff. Bev tried it first and gave a nod of approval while some peanuts and unidentifiable sauce dripped down her chin. She handed it to me. I took a bite.





It was delicious. Still, I had absolutely no clue what the white stuff was. If it was cheese or tofu skin, it wasn’t like any I’d had before. It seemed like it could be a relative of the cheese I saw in the market the previous morning -- the flat kind -- but I had eaten a piece of that grilled and it had a different taste. I knew there were chopped peanuts and chili paste in there. There was also some white stuff spread around on top of everything, and if I didn’t know better (or taste otherwise) I’d have guessed it was mayonnaise. So, here we were, eating this delicious and interesting street delicacy, and I was no closer to knowing what it was than before I had tasted it.

So, we did what any self-respecting food-obsessed people would do: we tried to find English speakers who could tell us what we were eating. This, as you might have guessed, was far easier said than done. We strolled along the cobblestone side street, taking mousy bites so we would have enough left to use as a demonstration.

We came to an odd-looking place that had big windows from street to eye level. There were a handful of people sitting inside. Half were Westerners, and half were Chinese. We peered inside trying to determine if this was a bar. A restaurant? An art shop? The residents, mostly around my age, some maybe a bit younger, saw us looking in at them and gestured for us to come in. But there was no door apparent. They intuited, from the look of confusion on our faces, that we couldn’t figure out how to enter. One of them held his arm up above his head bent at the elbow and pointed across his head with his finger to indicate, we gathered, that we should go around the side and enter through the back. We walked down a narrow alley between this building and another, through a courtyard in the back and, upon entering the building, we were no closer to figuring out what kind of place this was than we had been standing on the street. It seemed to be a theme.

“Hi.” We greeted them.

They all looked up, somewhat dazed and confused, but not unfriendly at all, and said almost in unison, “Hey.”

“Is there music here?” We had seen a sign out front possibly indicating there would be live bands.

“Tonight there will be,” one of them answered. The others seemed to be industriously busy and involved in detailed finger work.

“We’re trying to figure out what this food is, do any of you know?” We held it up for inspection. A few of them put their heads together and conferred.

“What is it?” they asked, unhelpfully.

“We don’t know,” we said. “It’s sort of like a pancake or crepe. We bought it on the street from a guy selling them just over there on the corner.” We pointed catty-corner to the building to indicate.

“You’ll have to ask our friend but he’s not here now. He’ll be back in a minute though.”

We stood looking at each other. Some of them sprawled out, half reclining, on a low built-in L-shaped bench with thick fitted cushions and pillows on one side of a long farmhouse-style rectangular table. The rest were on the other side of the table on a couple of chairs.

While we stood there, one of them held up an alarmingly hefty joint, already lit, and gestured to us -- an offering. Just then, their friend, a Chinese guy, walked in. He didn’t seem surprised by the addition of two extra Westerners. He found himself a seat and sank into it. We again held up our snack, only one third of which was left (talk about self-control), and asked him if he knew what our street food was. What was the white stuff, what were the other fillings? We ran through the drill, explaining what we saw the chef cooking on the grill and how. He offered that it was “a street food.” But did he know what kind of a street food it was, or perhaps even what the ingredients were? No, he didn’t know. He couldn’t tell us.

Bev and I looked at each other and realized that, while we had indeed found some people who spoke English, and even someone who spoke English and Chinese (and was presumably even a local) they were all too stoned to do us any good. We thanked them -- a few of them grunted responses -- and we left. We weren’t going to find out what we were eating, so Bev had another two bites and handed the rest to me to finish. It was delicious, even if it was to remain a mystery.

4:00pm rolled around and it was time for me to check in on my English student and the go-to girl to see if my trousers were ready. I expected they would not be and that the ping-pong-loving, cigarette-smoking, ash-dropping tailor would have them ready at 5:00pm -- as he had told them.

I was not disappointed: my trousers were not yet ready. I was told, in between profuse apologies, to return at 5:00pm. With an hour or so to amuse myself until the final trouser experiment would reveal its success or failure, I decided to return to a shop that Bev and I had passed earlier in the day. It was, I had figured out, a facial parlor.

There were four or five narrow salon-style beds lined up with enough space between them to fit a standing person or a steam machine. I had determined earlier in the day, through Chiniculation, that the woman did facials (the steamer helped me develop this theory, so I brought my hands up to my face as if to ask if the face was the area that would be treated; the answer was yes), that they lasted approximately one hour (I pointed at my watch, she looked at me blankly, so I pointed at the clock on the wall and then gestured to show the hand moving around; she did the same, showing me that it lasted one hour) and then I pulled out my calculator to find out the cost. 20 RMB. Not a typo. The facial would cost 20 RMB (approximately $2.42 US). And, for the bonus round in the Chiniculation Olympics, I asked her (again, by gesturing to the clock on the wall and pointing at the hour hand and the numbers) what time the shop closed. 8:00pm.

So here it was, 4:00pm, and with an hour to kill I returned to my lady at the facial parlor. She greeted me and gestured to the second-to-last bed from the entrance.

I took my shoes off and climbed onto the bed. She pulled the bed slightly out from the wall so that my heels could hang off one end (otherwise my head would hang off the other). I closed my eyes to avoid the fluorescent lights and settled into the blissful experience of having my face massage with lotions and potions, steaming, and more lotions and potions rubbed in. Perhaps 15 minutes into the hour, one and then perhaps three or four voices began a loud discussion near the head of my table.

My eyes were covered at this point, so I could only guess what was going on. But using my best powers of deductive reasoning, I figured that because the sliding glass doors of the shop were always open (that’s how I found it), some friends or acquaintances must have walked by, seen her working on me and stopped in to have a chat. After a few loud minutes, those people left. Shortly thereafter, a male voice, coming from the other direction, began speaking to the facial genius. They too had a loud chat and he disappeared out the back. The contrast between this “salon” experience, with its open door, public space and people coming, shouting and going, and a big city spa or a resort in the United States, with private darkened rooms, bullshit Eastern trickling water music, “cleansing chai tea,” and all of the technicians wearing rubber soled shoes and speaking in hushed tones, was amusing.

After about an hour, the facial genius touched me on the shoulder to indicate that I was finished. I pulled out my calculator and typed in 20. She shook her head yes. I handed her a 20 RMB note. Then I held out a 10 RMB note and typed in 20 + 5 = 25. She looked at the calculator. She looked at me. She looked at the 10 RMB note extended from my hand. It registered. She took the 10 and somewhat tentatively handed me back a 5. I smiled. She smiled and the first English words were exchanged between us.

“Sank you,” she said.

“Hen how,” I replied (very good), with my best effort at a 100 watt smile.

“Sank you, sank you,” followed me as I went out the door.

Tipping is not really part of the Chinese culture, and I was likely, based upon her reaction to the tip, the first Westerner to be a customer. So she was surprised and delighted with her bonus for the job well done. I knew I was sort of breaching the social contract -- I do try to respect the local culture and not taint it with my own -- but she had done such a good job, and I had enjoyed the experience so much, that I decided a very modest tip would be acceptable. To me it was only 5 RMB. To her it seemed much more.

When I returned to collect my pants, the English student looked at her watch and told me I was late. I chuckled to myself. It was 5:20pm. I tried on the trousers and, as I suspected, the ping-pong-loving tailor had not let me down. They were perfect.

Time to negotiate once more. I asked if additional pants could be made that day. The English student ran to the shop next door to consult with the go-to girl. The two of them returned and huddled together. The go-to girl sent the English student to the “factory” and stayed with me in the shop.

Two additional pair could be made, but I was told I’d have to get them quite late: 11:00pm. No, I said. I could collect them at 10:00pm along with the jacket. Agreement was reached. I again left my original pair of trousers and took the new ones back to the hotel.

Bev and I had made a plan to meet up for dinner and, it turned out, everyone else had decided to join us too, with the exception of Sylwia, whom I assumed they had not seen. We chose a place with plastic tubs full of ingredients out front and ordered five dishes. This place turned out to be mediocre and, although a few dishes were good, overall it was a disappointment to me (especially after our dinner the night before with Mama), though it would be the only one of the entire trip. By the time we had settled on a restaurant, we had lost Farmer John and Amy to the chore of packing for our upcoming week away from our bags. Bev and I spearheaded the ordering based on the visible ingredients. We asked for a mushroom dish (and ended up with a few mushrooms and some unidentifiable meat), baby bok choy and another green (only one of which was good), a tofu casserole (which was the best dish but was full of mystery meat), a spicy chicken (that Wendy selected; she was very pleased with the level of spice) and a fried rice with egg and vegetable (that Kay suggested and was an excellent choice -- very light and flavorful, not heavy, greasy and brown with soy sauce like the sort common at home).

At 10:00pm, I went to the shop to find my English student and there she was, standing out front with the go-to girl. Everything, it seemed, was ready. I tried on the waistcoat (an overshirt, really), which was perfect. Aside from the chalk marks that the ping-pong loving, cigarette-smoking, ash-dropping tailor didn’t have time or inclination to wipe off, it could not have been improved upon. I tried on the trousers -- two pair. The fit was acceptable. Clearly rushed along, they were not entirely as good as the first pair, but they were good. In my gut I knew that I should have ordered all of the trousers up front after meeting the tailor and that, because I didn’t, I should have left it at one pair. But having gone through all of the work to find the right guy to make the trousers, I couldn’t bear to pass up the opportunity to have more made since I had finally found the right material (one of the vocabulary words I continuously tested my English student on), the English student, the go-to girl and the skilled tailor.

Before I left, I did a final run-through of the vocabulary list with my English student, packed up and headed off into the dark night, again turning around to wave over my shoulder and again being showered with smiles and waves. The final episode of the trouser drama had come to a fitting conclusion.

The next morning I was awakened at 7:00am, as I had been every morning in Dali, by the mechanical tune (think Good Humor truck) of “Happy Birthday to You.” By consensus we had figured out that the music was emanating from the miniature garbage trucks that plied the town, but until I actually saw one of these trucks and heard the music, I was skeptical. These trucks, approximately the size of a minivan, would play this tune on an endless circuit. Elsewhere, we heard the ice cream truck version of “It’s a Small World” -- those drivers must have done something really bad in a previous life to end up in such purgatory. People would run out from their shops, homes and restaurants and throw bags of garbage into the side of a truck -- sort of like a side loading dumpster. I tried to imagine what could be worse than singing and hearing “It’s a Small World” over and over and determined that the ice cream truck version -- hands down -- beat Disney by a longshot. Two days later, I was still circuiting one of the two songs through my mind and, during lulls in conversation, I occasionally and involuntarily burst into song.

We traveled by mini-bus from Dali to Qioutou, where we met our Chinese guide, Sean, and left our bags for the next eight days in his wife Margo’s cafe while we traveled to Zhongdian, trekked in the Tiger Leaping Gorge and finished up in Lijiang.

There was no toilet at the cafe, which is par for the course in China (though, admittedly, I was a little surprised because Sean is married to an Australian woman and they seem to cater primarily to Westerners), so I was directed outside, down a very steep driveway and around the back to get to the nearby public toilet. This particular public toilet seemed to be for the citizens of the town but was also conveniently located right next to holding pens for pigs. I stepped into the dark cement block and, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I stopped in my tracks. I had a companion. And, unlike some other public toilets that had waist-high cement walls allowing for at least the illusion of a little privacy, this one had a wooden plank with three holes cut out -- and only air between me and my neighbor. I wanted to turn and flee but what was the difference? There would likely be someone else there if I came back, and it's not like I'd ever see this person again, so I figured I might as well get used to it. I dropped my trousers and silently praised myself for being so international.

When I got back to the cafe, Margo was flitting around, talking incessantly and generally behaving like she was off her rocker. We unloaded the bags we planned to leave behind and re-boarded the mini-bus for the remaining three to four hours of bus torture.

Our hotel in Zhongdian (Gyalthang to Tibetans, and recently changed to Shangrila by the Chinese government for, as far as I can tell, the purposes of marketing to tourists), had a beautiful lobby, so we were hopeful that the rooms would live up to expectations. We were so wrong. The rooms were utter crap. We had no hot water, no heat, and the ceilings were water damaged, as was the industrial astro-turf like carpeting. Amazingly, we were told, the hotel was brand new and had just opened.

I met up with Bev and Martin for a wander. Zhongdian, at approximately 10,000 feet, didn’t seem to have all that much to offer. I had been anticipating a beautiful Tibetan town. But because of a Chinese program of economic incentives for construction, the entire city was under construction. While there seemed to be some rules about building only in sort-of Tibetan-style architecture, the city was growing at an alarming rate and it seemed to have lost its soul.

The old town, however, although also under construction, was beautiful and charming. All of the homes were old traditional Tibetan flat-roofed residences with attached stables in the yards and lower level of the home for winter. We climbed to the top of a hill where there was an enormous prayer wheel (imagine a merry-go-round). It had a waist-high bar wrapped around its middle and, to turn it, at least a couple of people had to grab the bar and apply all their body weight to walk and turn the wheel. There were a couple of young Israeli boys trying to turn the wheel counter-clockwise -- the wrong direction -- so in true Israeli fashion, I good naturedly scolded them and advised them to go the other way. They were so excited that I was speaking to them in Hebrew that before long I was chatting with their two sets of parents. One set of parents included the Israeli ambassador to China (visiting from Beijing) and the other parents were visiting from -- where else? -- Miami. The ambassador asked where I was headed and I told her that we were going to the Gorge. Be careful, she warned, several Israelis have died there -- the trails are narrow and the rock is often slippery -- proceed with utmost caution. Was I headed to Beijing? Too bad. I surely missed an interesting opportunity to meet with them there. In parting they wished me a happy new year, and I wished them an easy fast.

Martin, Bev and I settled into a cafe along the cobblestone streets of the old town. There was an inviting small stove in the middle of the room, a fully stocked bar, some tables with chairs and other tables with big futon couches for hanging out. The menu was limited but interesting. I ordered a vegetable and tofu stir fry and stir fried seasonal vegetable (aka cabbage) to share, and Bev and Martin ordered a chicken curry dish (hacked up chicken with skin and bones and all) and a spicy pork dish. The vegetarian dishes were beautifully cooked and delicious, and came in enormous portions. Each cost 6 RMB. The meat dishes cost considerably more but also came in generous portions and received rave reviews from my companions. An excellent find in an otherwise seemingly overrun town. Note: Come to find out, Hazel, the owner, was a recent transplant from Xian. She came to open the business and was taking advantage of the Chinese government incentives for people who were building and opening new businesses. Unfortunately, there in the heart of the old town, the old Tibetan town, all of the new funky restaurants and “pubs” seemed to be owned not by Tibetans but by Chinese -- a situation that I found repeated in other Tibetan towns and cities and that was much bemoaned by Tibetans I met in Lhasa.

After a day in Zhongdian, we had a 7:15am departure for the bus station to catch a 7:50 bus to Haba. We all kept our eyes peeled for breakfast snacks and just outside the bus station we were rewarded by a few vendors plying their wares: boiled eggs cooked in tea, steamed meat buns, and boiled corn on the cob on a stick. Kay established the trend of eating corn on the cob on a stick, and Sean and I were quick to follow. The corn was an extremely deep yellow, and the texture and flavor were rather unlike the corn we eat in the US. The kernels themselves were much tougher and chewier (dental floss a must) and getting a bite off the cob -- especially because the cob was stuck through with a chopstick-size skewer -- was a bit of a workout. The corn was sweet and I would look for it elsewhere.

Inside the bus station, the bus was apparently waiting for us for departure. We loaded ourselves and our packs onto the mini-bus, the driver kicked it into reverse and . . . klonk. The bus lurched and stopped dead. The driver put it into neutral, and a bunch of guys who had climbed off the bus (aided by others who were standing around, presumably waiting for their own buses), tried to push the bus backward and out of the bay. After about four feet . . . klonk, and again klonk. The bus went silent and the engine started leaking oil. They pushed it back a bit more and the pool of oil was revealed to be more like a small sea. When Sean informed us that the driver had left -- in search of a part -- we filed off the bus and watched and waited.




The driver went to work and, about an hour later, claimed to have fixed the broken part. Six guys pushed the bus out of the bay and the bus, now facing in the correct direction to be put into drive, sputtered to life. We piled back onto the bus and watched as two Chinese lady passengers refused to get on. They were fearful that the bus would break down and they wanted a “guarantee” that the bus would run to its destination. No guarantee was given, but eventually they got on anyway. What choice did they have, really?

The route was a winding, narrow mountain road with sharp dropoffs and nothing between us and the great abyss. The road was under construction so everyone, including the reluctant ladies, went airborne on countless occasions. We had a lunch break at the foot of Baishuitai, the White Water Terraces, which reminded me a great deal of a place in Turkey’s Pamukkale, though on a smaller scale.


We started up the staircases next to the terraces. Bev, Martin, Kay and John were walking ahead toward a small old man standing at what seemed to be a little shrine on one of the terraces. The man held out incense and gestured that they should light it and put it in the terrace shrine. Sean came up behind me laughing and, as the four of them lit the incense and gingerly put it into the white water terrace, Sean informed the rest of us that this shrine was specifically where women who were trying to conceive went to make offerings.

Haba was an hour farther along the mountain road. Half of us were in the cab of a truck, the rest in an open bed. We would be two nights in Haba at a basic and simple guest house. The toilets were down the stairs and across the courtyard. The showers, one of which worked, were at the other end of the courtyard. Wendy, Kay and I were bunking up in a triple.

Dinner was a feast, and good: stir fried sweet potato slices (soft, not crispy); julienne zucchini and squash, stir fried; mushrooms with Sichuan peppercorns; sauteed eggplant with garlic; boiled chicken legs; fried white potato shreds (like hashbrowns); dried yak meat cooked with vegetables; pork with vegetables; and steamed (or boiled) pumpkin, which tasted like acorn squash. I ate so much, I became uncomfortably full, so Bev, Martin and I finished up the day with a nighttime walk through and beyond the village.


We awoke to rain and a valley full of dark rain clouds. The plan was to spend four or five hours climbing up the hill (approximately 1,500 or more feet vertical) to a Yi village where we would have a very simple lunch and make our way back down through some other villages and back to the road.

Breakfast was family style: plates of fried egg and tomato from the wok, platters of banana, orange and apple slices, naan-type bread and honey, and a rice bread that looked like a fried egg without the yolk.

We watched the rain, hoping it would stop, but at 10:00am, with no reprieve in sight, we set out up a muddy and slippery trail in the rain. The rain picked up. It poured down on us for the next two hours. We were totally clouded in so we had no view, the trail was becoming increasingly treacherous and a trip participant meltdown was about to ensue. But there was nothing that could be done. If one of us went down, we all had to go down and we were, according to Sean, 30 minutes from the top and the village. We pushed on.

In the village, we were ushered into a home. Sean, having grown up in and leading trips through the Gorge area, knew many people. We were served bowls of Yunnan “brick” tea and later wok cooked potatoes (the potatoes were placed in the wok and the wok was set down into the fire on top of a three-pronged metal ring) and a hearty and heavy dark bread which seemed to be made of barley flour.



It was two hours down a different slippery slope back to the guest house, and I managed to do a complete ass-plunge into the mud. I was, by this time, soaked to the bone and covered in mud from toe to waist, and the crowning glory was the mud print on my ass where I had so gracefully landed. I was officially ready to be inside and out of the rain. I plodded along somewhat miserably for the last 30 minutes, sustained by dreams of hot showers and clean dry clothes. Except, the showers were solar powered. Eight people, one shower, no sun. What were the odds of hot water?

In the end, most of us simply hosed down our shoes, our clothes and ourselves. Literally, as in with a hose. I also scrubbed my socks, still on my feet, with a scrub brush. I put my shorts on backwards, soaped them up and tried to work the clay-like mud off the ass of my shorts. The rest of my clothing would have to wait for a sunny day -- after all, that’s what deodorant is for.

<< previous installment <<

Ellen Shapiro


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Splendid, Ellen. Thank you.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thanks again for taking the time. It has been an fascinating travelogue and some of the photos have been hypnotizing. The one of the child in the basket in this installment is wonderful.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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this is fabulous. the white water terrace is spectacular. can you tell us a bit more about it? do the locals divert the water for crops...are there animals that seem to favor them?

between this ongoing blog and monica's photo journal of india i feel vicariously cosmopolitan today!!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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this is fabulous. the white water terrace is spectacular. can you tell us a bit more about it? do the locals divert the water for crops...are there animals that seem to favor them?

Reesek, the White Water Terraces are extremely shallow pools and they are cordoned off so that no one can walk on them (if you look very carefully at the photos, you should be able to see a couple of the stakes in the terraces that hold the wire boundary). As a result, they are inaccessible for walking on or in and animals do not water from them (that I ever saw, though I can’t vouch for what happens when the tourists aren’t there). They are, according to this source, the "result of a continuous piling up of calcite sediments resulting from the disintegration of calcium bicarbonate in the water."

In Turkey the terraces are deep enough to sit in and they are also fed by hot springs. The waters are said to have healing powers but I have heard that in recent years the terraces at Pamukkale have been cordoned off as well in order to protect and preserve them.

Ellen Shapiro


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reseek, aren't those way cool? Here are a few more photos, and I'll post some more info later.


Thank you for reporting your trip and the wonderful pictures. The White Water Terraces is one of the few memories I have from the trip at three years old. Would you be going to the five colour lake(not sure if this is the exact name) too?

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Ellen, in olden days, you could have gotten rich writing travel books. I know I've said this before, but we're so lucky to have your contributions!

Have you put any of your photographs into coffee table books?

Michael aka "Pan"


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Part 3! Part 3! I'm dumb for not seeing this until now! Part 3, huzzah and all that!

Maybe our buddy Cecil at China 46 in NJ can tell us what that street food is? Or maybe not, if even locals had no idea. :smile:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Thank you for reporting your trip and the wonderful pictures. The White Water Terraces is one of the few memories I have from the trip at three years old. Would you be going to the five colour lake(not sure if this is the exact name) too?

Yuki, I did not get to visit the five color lake. Do you remember where it was--close to the White Water Terraces (Baishuitai), what town it was near or what province it was in? I did visit Erhai Lake near Dali and Bita Lake near Zhongdian (Tibetan: Gyalthang).

Ellen Shapiro


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Thank you for reporting your trip and the wonderful pictures. The White Water Terraces is one of the few memories I have from the trip at three years old. Would you be going to the five colour lake(not sure if this is the exact name) too?

Yuki, I did not get to visit the five color lake. Do you remember where it was--close to the White Water Terraces (Baishuitai), what town it was near or what province it was in? I did visit Erhai Lake near Dali and Bita Lake near Zhongdian (Tibetan: Gyalthang).

I don't remember the exact location but I did search it up online. It is located in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan. I think Jiuzhaigou is a scenic area that is protected by the government and there are many wonderful sceneries there. Jiuzhaigou

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Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us. I love your written travelogue and the pictures. Particularly the open and welcoming faces of the people that you met.


Water Boils Roughly

Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye


Gregg Robinson

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I know it is a huge amount of work, but will there be a part 4? I enjoyed the first three installments so much I check back almost every day hoping to find just a few more words and pictures.

Also, where are you going next? Will it be as remote? A differnt culture? Do you need a family of four to carry your camera?


Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"


One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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Alas, I have had every good intention of getting to part 4--and the parts following, about Tibet--but first trimester pregnancy distractions (like throwing up and exhaustion) have sidetracked me beyond my wildest dreams. There will be a part 4, I promise, when precisely, I can't exactly say.

Ellen Shapiro


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