[ Aug.1996 ] At the bus station in Lanzhou in China, we looked for the bus to Xiahe where the Tibetan people lived.
We found the bus easily and got on it, which was fine, but the bus itself was so old and beat-up.
They put the bigger luggage on top of the roof and tied them up.
I had thought this should be a long-distance bus, but in fact it was just an ordinary local bus which picked people up here and there like a minibus in the city.
So it went very slowly and it took about 8 and a half hours (including lunch) to get to Xiahe, which was about 260 km away from Lanzhou.
Until the lunch break at a place called Linxia, the view from the window was very dry.
In Lanzhou the sky was clear blue, but in the countryside, it became bluish-beige because of the dust.
The houses around there was made of mud in beige, too.
Many people got off the bus at Linxia.
We had a spicy noodle soup with meat and a kind of bread which was yellow and flat for lunch, which cost 5 yuan ( $1=8.28 yuan in those days).
The noodle was flat and wider than tagliatelle.
After Linxia, the view changed to greener and that reminded me of Wales in the UK.
Ar last we arrived in Xiahe at around 4 pm.
We settled down at the Friendship Hotel, the nearest one from the bus stop and it cost 100 yuan per night.
For some reason, at the staircase of this accommodation, there was a photograph of Mt.Fuji.
The room was basic with a thick pipe running on the wall, which was not very pretty, but as comfortable as the one we had stayed in Yangshuo.
We did not have any plan for the day, so we just went out to see the place.
A cloud of dust was being stirred up and people were walking within that and they looked assimilated into the dust.
Women were wearing a hat with a wide brim and the long plaits were coming out of that.
They wore a long blackish skirt and a jacket with the colourful borders.
Somehow they looked like women in South America, whom I had seen in photographs.
There were quite a few Tibetan monks, but I felt that they were not ‘special’ in this town but just an ordinary citizen getting along with others.
We saw some tough looking foreign travellers, too.
We chatted with an American couple and found that they were travelling for a long time and sometimes they taught English to raise their travelling fund.
And they were staying a dormitory which cost 10 yuan a night.
All other travellers also looked rather strange, wearing unfitted local clothes, which created the hardy image, unlike us.
By the way, the altitude of Xiahe is nearly 3000 metres.
I had a strange experience which could be a mild altitude sickness.
We went into a small restaurant and ordered a cup of Muslim tea and a piece of apple cake, but suddenly I lost appetite as well as general energy.
And I felt completely fed up with this unusual exotic circumstances which I am usually excited at and felt like running away.
I had never had this experience before.
Because of this, we decided to stay only two nights here, though originally we had planned for a few days.
It was the end of August, but it was already very cold, so I kept my silk coat on, which I had bought in Yangshuo even in the room.