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Yushu/Jyekundo (Kham/Amdo?)  

If you really want to witness Tibetan life, this would be the place. Yushu is referred to as the town of dance and song. Almost untouched by tourism, other than the Yushu Horse Racing Festival, Tibetans meander along the streets doing their shopping or trading in their traditional garb, smiling, and content. As the traditional town of the Amdo region, the inhabitants are mostly still Tibetan, although many shops and businesses are now owned by Chinese.  The three world famous rivers - the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lancang River - all originate from this handsome region. Here you will find a wonderful Tibetan market tucked away behind a stream of buildings right on the main street, near the crossroads. There is no better place to do your shopping for traditional Tibetan clothing, carpets, musical instruments, cloth and even some interesting fountain-of-youth products.

If you're into culture and living among Tibetans, Yushu has everything you're looking for. With some great new hotels at reasonable prices (not during the horse-racing season) and food in various price ranges, from cheap to ultra-cheap, you can spend a week in Yushu just snapping photographs and checking out some interesting local attractions. The Jiegu Monastery sets on top of a hill overlooking the entire city. It's so interesting to wander through the small lanes hoping to catch a glimpse of a monk in his natural setting. Just outside of town, easily accessed by local bus or taxi is the largest Mani Stone stack in the world, over 1 million prayer stones have been placed here among numerous temples and dozens of prayer wheels of all sizes. Locals are always doing their kora here and the photo rewards are outstanding. Even little children are prostrating along the route...just amazing! Also see the Temple of Wencheng Princess.

Located 20 kilometers from Jiegu Town of Yushu Prefecture, the Temple of Princess Wencheng is hemmed in by mountains and streams. It is exquisitely designed with intricate detail. On top of the rock over the front gate of the main hall there are nine statues of Buddha, displaying the excellent carving and painting. Princess Wencheng was emotional moved by the hospitable and friendly local Tibetans. She thus asked her artisans and craftsmen to build Buddhist pagodas and make statues of Buddha. In 710 when she passed through the same place on her way to marry the Tibetan king Chide Zugdan, Princess Jincheng saw the statues of Buddha, naming the structure the Temple of Princess Wencheng.

Not only is Yushu fascinating as a city, the surrounding snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lakes, grasslands make this place too good to be true. With a good guide you should be able to see wild yak, Tibetan antelope, argali, wild donkey, wild camel, golden eagles, and many many birds. You likely won't see the snow leopard, but it's there among the craggy cliffs, watching. At an altitude of 5300 meters, everyone can enjoy this pleasant area without shortness of breath. About 800 kilometers from Xining in Qinghai Province, the vista along the route, whether by bus or car, is truly the most breathtaking in Tibet.

If you want everything, plan your Yushu trip during July when they have the Yushu Horse Racing Festival, but book well in advance. Your guide can arrange a stay in a tent with the locals during the festival, but book well in advance. This event is world-famous!



Another five hours from the city of Yushu is Zadou, a small but very interesting town situated along a beautiful lazy river with a backdrop of huge mountains. The people here are mostly Tibetan. Unlike other cities, not every business here is owned by Chinese. Lots of nomads linger around the streets of Zadou to buy their supplies and entertain themselves with card games. The busy streets have so much Tibetan charm, the women in their cultural garb, the men with big welcoming smiles, and the young people riding their motor bikes. For many here, they have made a decent living picking "SHILAJIT" on these grasslands for the past few years. The stuff is used in preparations for "eternal youth" skin care and supplement products and sold around the world. Sadly, the fad seems to be waning. But with a little extra money in their pockets these nomadic folks have purchased televisions and solar panels for their tents, motorcycles and even some Land Rovers! If you want to work in an orphanage there is the Warithang Orphanage here in the middle of the grasslands, twenty hours from any "city" with 108+ children who would love to see you. Ask for the "lama" in town, he owns the orphanage and is always looking for volunteers and donors for his good works. Or write to Kalsang. He can contact the lama. Be sure to take a few basketballs if you go to visit the orphans. You can find a guesthouse by asking around or possible stay at the orphanage if you can deal with no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms, etc.  You can learn more about this orphanage  by visiting: 
more Tibetan orphanages. Also try

Dege, in Kardze (GarzÍ Ganzi Gantse), traditionally part of the Tibetan region known as Kham, currently a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan Province, is located on the southwestern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, on the upper reaches of the Jinsha and Yalong rivers. The TAR is west. Dege meaning "land of benevolence" is derived from "ten benevolences of the "Four Orders" of Tibetan Buddhism, named after the Dege clan. Five main sects of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingmapa (Red), Saturdaykyapa (Variegated), Kagyupa (White), Gelukpa (Yellow) and Benbo were treated equally by the Dege clan, and conflicts among these schools of religious thought were rare in Dege. Ancient tolerance! What wisdom! Dege is one of three ancient centers of Tibetan culture, together with Lhasa and the city of Xiahe in Gansu. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the influence of the Dege clan covered several counties of current Sichuan, TAR and Qinghai. Around the Dege area are Yilhun Lhatso, Axu grassland, Kagtru Temple, Palpungl Monastery, Pewer Monastery and Dege Scripture Printing House.

Gengqing Town
The town of Gengqing, just on the reaches of the Sequ River is 500 years old, and is now the county seat of Dege. The town is a holy site in Tibetan Buddhism because of the printing house for turning out scriptures with unique paper, and as well as the epic of King Gesar. The foundation for the printing house was laid in 1729, and construction took 21 years. It is located in the Gengqing monastery. The main structure is a four-story building with more than 30 rooms. The first floor consists of several sutra halls where Buddha and the ancestors of the Dege clan are worshipped. The second and third floors have rooms for proofreading, engraving blocks, printing and binding, and some administrative offices. The fourth floor is used to air dry the printed pages.

Derge Sutra Printing Academy
Amazingly, the Derge Scripture Printing House' has 217,000 engraved blocks in its archives, including classics from different sects of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the treasury of Tibetan culture and arts. Kept here are more than 290,000 engraved blocks of religious documents including classics from different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, historical, literature and art, medical, technological, scientific, linguistic, astronomical and arithmetical-calendar books in Tibetan. The special paper for printing is made from
Stellera chamaejasme - L. , a medicinal plant found on stony slopes and plains of the Himalayas at 2700 - 4300 meters. The root is toxic so the paper repels mice and moths, and keeps them from damaging the books. Derge academy is the largest of three big Sutra-printing academies in  Tibetan regions. It is estimated that materials stored at Dege make up seventy percent of Tibet's literary heritage, what is left of it after the Cultural Revolution destroyed over 6000 of its monasteries, many with loads of ancient scrolls. Because of its role in preserving Tibetan culture, Dege ranks together with the Sakya Monastery and the Potala Palace in Lhasa in historic and cultural significance.

The printing blocks preserved at the Dege Scripture Printing House include those from Gagyur and Danjur (engraved in the 18th century); historical classics such as The History of Buddhism of the Han Inhabited Regions and The History of Indian Buddhism (a text which cannot even be found in India any longer); medical classics such as Sapphire, A Collection of Medical Works; ancient mathematical texts such as White Gem; literary and linguistic classics such as Models of Poetry and Logic; and the memoirs of Tibetan monks from various dynasties. During this century parts of these works have been reprinted in China, Japan, Russia and India, providing important research materials on Tibetan studies.

Kagtru Temple
Kagtuo Temple was built in 1162 and is located in present-day Baiyu County. It belonged to the Dege clan and is still one of the six major temples of the Ningma Sect. Affiliated temples. Other well-known temples in the Dege area include Babang Temple and Dengqing Temple, the latter being more than 1,000 years old. 

Birth Place of Gesar King & Axu (Ngaxu) Grassland
Gesar was the ruler of eastern Tibet in the 11th centry. Gesar is known as greatest hero in the Khampa area by Tibetans, Mongolians, Naxi and Tus. He wrote one of the greatest works of literature in the world, the epic "King of Gesar", which is twenty times the length of the Homer's The Illiad. The Potala Palace has a statue of Gesar for pilgrim worship. The Axu (Ngaxu) grassland is believed to be the birthplace of Gesar and his famous epic. The grassland covers 800 square kilometers and has beautiful wooded hills all around, with a spectacular river running through it. There is a huge memorial statue of King Gesar riding a horse in the hall of the temple constructed on this grassland area. In the Khampa area, especially in the Ganzi area, stories, songs and dances about Gesar are still alive and well among the hundreds of professional Tibetan singers, dancers and storytellers in the TAR, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan areas. For weddings and birthday celebrations balladeers are invited to sing Gesar, with even the shorter pieces lasting for hours (longer versions last several days!). Obviously, a balladeer needs an exceptional memory to recite scores of chapters for hours, even days on end. The Lingcanc, clan, who refer to themselves as descendants of Gesar, have been living, in this area for several centuries. This is a good time to visit Dege, if it is open to visitors. Everything under Chinese rule is changing rapidly.

 CHAMDO (Kham area of Tibet)  
 Located in the eastern area of Tibet, Chamdo is the mother of the Jinsha, Lancang and Nu Rivers. Unending mountain ranges blanket this area of 108,600 square kilometers (26,835.621 acres). From discoveries it is known that people lived in this region over 5000 years ago. The area was unified under Songtsen Gampo and became part of the Tubo empire and has been referred to as the Kham region for many years. The Tibetan inhabitants of this area are referred to as Khampas. To the east is Sichuan Province, to the north is Qinghai, to the south and southeast is Yunnan Province and the country of Burma. Home to some of the wildest wildlife and most exotic culture, Chamdo region is fascinating. The vast and lush grasslands, the gentle mountain slopes, and the endless forests give visitors a feeling of spiritual rapture found no where else on the planet. The diverse cultural traditions of the area can be seen in the Gama ancient temple sites like Chama and the salt fields of the Lancang River. The colorful apparel seems to change with each village, always brighter and fuller. The hospitality of the Chamdo girls and the wide welcoming smiles of the Kang-ba gentlemen make visitors feel like putting down roots along these roads. The Ancient Tea House Road (the southern portion of the old Silk Road) run through Chamdo. Visitors adore the unique and very delicate gold and silver vessels made here, but best of all they love the traditional dance and song. For hundreds of years Chamdo has been as isolated place, only recently accessible to the outside world by a network of highways and an airport.

Chamdo Town is located off the Chuanzang Highway that connect Sichuan and Tibet. There are two amazing rivers that run right through the town dividing it gracefully into four sections. Try the hot springs in the area for the curative powers. You will be able to view a few ancient monasteries, murals, and sculptures in the area. The town of Chamdo has a Chinese population of about 95%, according to eyewitnesses. Some towns in Kham did not exist before the arrival of the Chinese in the 1950s. One such is Hongyuan, which has been built in the middle of vast grasslands previously inhabited only by nomads. With Tibetan Buddhism serious about the human connection to all sentient beings, the Tibetan people here seek to live a peaceful life. Although infrastructure is seen by some as advantageous, these people long have wished to live in what was once a self-imposed solitude, having no desire for commercial substance, knowing this life is just a transitory stay between lives. Even today most Tibetans will not kill a spider, nor a mouse, but will gently remove them to the outdoors. Even flies are gently caught in the hand and released. What once was Shangri-La is Shangri-La no more, but even as cement and steel go up around them they try with all their might to adhere to their traditions and accept change. Come meet them before it's too late. 





















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