August 5, 2011: Daofu (道孚) to Luhuo (炉霍) Ganzi(甘孜).

Another later start than planned, I think we don’t set alarms as an excuse to not get up when we planned the night before. Got in a bus going to Ganzi but we stopped over in Luhuo because some of the people we were traveling with from Daofu only wanted to go as far as Luhuo. We were stopped for a long time while the driver tried to get others to go in order to maximize his profits on one trip.  After everyone had taken their bathroom break in what Jeremy considered one of the worst toilets in China, we were still waiting and the two of us along with a man from Guangdong became quiet unhappy. We did finally get out of Luhuo but arrived in Ganze too late to get out to Baiyu, which was our plan for the day. We made arrangements with a driver to go straight to Baiyu early in the morning, around 06:30 was our meeting time. After arranging our ride we took a walk towards a beautiful mountain and on our way down the road I saw a Chinese boy in military camo but since he was sitting on a PINK bicycle I really did think of him as much until he made strong eye contact with me and picked up a walkie talkie. However, I continued on expecting something else to happen. I turned the corner and saw a bridge that got myself even closer, so I started to walk across. As I began walking across this bridge a PLA soldier ran up to me from the other side of the bridge and stops, salutes, and greets me with a “Hello, Comrade”  (同志好) he also requested to see my passport. I granted him his request, even though I felt uncomfortable about him calling me “comrade.” Whenever someone looks at my passport now I get a little bit of a laugh because it always looks like a monkey trying to work a computer, I currently have two PRC visas and seven PRC resident permits, but I did help him to find the current one in order to expedite the situation. The soldier found no problem with my documents and let me through. However, I would soon run into another checkpoint at the opposite end of the bridge. At the end of the bridge I was stopped by one police officer and one PLA soldier, they again asked for my documents, but this time they asked to see my pictures. Now, when someone from the government in China asks to see your pictures there is something close that they don’t want showing up on the front page of the New York Times. My pictures were fine, I hadn’t taken the pictures that were forbidden for reasons unknown to myself at the time. I was also instructed to not take pictures south and southeast of the bridge but the southwest was fine. The areas where I was told not the take pictures were covered in Tibetan prayer flags hanging from trees, I wouldn’t know the significance of the this place until a few days later. After our little walk across the bridge we returned to town and checked into the Golden Yak Hotel, which is one of only five hotels in Ganzi that foreigners may stay at. We had heard that there was a problem with the water there but they assured us that from 19:00 to 24:00 they would have hot water and in the morning they would again have hot water. The service at this hotel is horrendous and I would never recommend this hotel to anyone (except the man responsible for the Great Firewall, but I don’t like him).  After checking in and dropping off our stuff we went for a walk up the street, directly north from the hotel. We would come upon a large monastery that sits on top of the hill overlooking Ganzi. We walked around but separated and went in different directions. I went to the left and came upon an older monk and we talked about Obama and the Dali Lama, they had just recently met and had official talks where Obama kissed the PRC’s ass. I asked the old monk if I could go into the main shrine and look around and he agreed to be my escort. We changed shoes and he took me around showing me all the different buddhas they had inside. He also showed me the chair that is reserved for the Dali Lama when he comes back and informed me that five different Dali Lamas have sat in that chair. I was also allowed, I asked first, to take pictures but most of them didn’t come out well since I didn’t want to hold up the old monk by putting a flash on. After thanking the old monk for showing me around I saw Jeremy walking up further into the residential area for the monks and I followed. We walked around until the path ended and were admiring the scenery when a monk that may have been in his early to mid-thirties came out with a young apprentice. He walked up and began talking to us. As most conversations with the monks went it was always about how they liked Obama, Tibet may be the last place on Earth where Americans are still liked…but this conversation quickly went from someone they liked to a group of people they didn’t like, the Chinese Government. He told us about how monks and nuns were beaten with sticks, some were killed, and a general treatment on par with cattle. It was interesting to hear and seems like they have been liberated from one form of oppression to another.

It started to get late and the time for pictures was fading fast, I was also getting hungry. We went back towards the hotel in search for food. I had suggested that we go to the place that said “Tibetan Restaurant,” mainly because I thought they might just have Tibetan food. We ordered some Lhasa sweet tea, bowls of yak soup, yak dumplings and weak liquor in a can. Only the soup was any good and it was really good. After dinner we returned to the hotel, which still had no water, because we had an early morning the next day.

August 8, 2011:

Reached Ganze. Found out that there are only five hotels in the city that foreigners may stay at and they are all 150 kuai a night. Went back to the Golden Yak Hotel but the younger oh so happy receptionist told another girl that for us they had no rooms. Checked into the Golden Sun Hotel (金太阳宾馆), they were incredibly nice, though not as clean as the Golden Yak. Took a walk back towards Dege up the hill and saw a wonderful sunset, took some more landscape pictures. Went back to get some more of the yak soup we had had a few days before. After we had the soup Jeremy wanted to hang his clothes up since they hadn’t dried from washing them the night before. Talked to a local English teacher and found out about why we couldn’t take pictures across the river. About two weeks ago nuns and monks were beaten with sticks and all the flags were serving as a memorial to that event. Ganze lost internet until about three days ago for residences and are still without internet in commercial places. She spoke about how unhappy the Tibetan people were and how they were afraid to speak out about anything. This makes me rethink about complaining that I can’t get Facebook when the reasons that I can’t get it is because others have suffered so much at the claws of the “river crabs.” I noticed tonight I only had one blister, which is a rarity for me. Currently trying to find a way to write some sensitive things on my blog without it being harmonized by the powers that be in the particular country I live in.

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