Dear Families & Friends,
On behalf of the group, we want to apologize for the sparse communication so far! Yesterday was the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. As a result, blocks on the internet have made internet communication very difficult during the past two weeks. I just returned home to the US after a long visit to China, connecting with our staff and contacts there, and was unable to access email for an extended period – access to the Dragons web site and Yak board was also inconsistent. In addition, the group was in a remote location, outside of Xiahe, Gansu in their first homestay, with a nomadic community of Tibetan herders. The instructors report that the experience was deeply rewarding and fun for all…and communication from their location at the community’s winter camp in the Sangke Grasslands was extremely limited.
Since departing Beijing, the group also spent time visiting Labrang Monastery, one of the largest and most important Gelug (a school of Tibetan Buddhism) monasteries in the world, learning about the tradition of tangka painting with masters near the city of Xining, in neighboring Qinghai Province, and taking in the beautiful scenery of this whole area, where Gansu, Qinghai, and Sichuan provinces meet – historically part of the Tibetan kingdom of Amdo.
As of yesterday, the group is their second homestay, right at the border of Sichuan and Gansu, in another Tibetan community called Diebu. This farming community nestled amidst the mountains and pine forests of the area provides a contrast to their first experience, and the group is settling in well and getting to know their hosts – many of whom speak Mandarin Chinese as well as Amdo Tibetan.
Several days from now, they’ll journey further south, arriving in Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, on October 8. From Chengdu, they’ll travel on to Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province, which will be their home-base for a month. In Kunming, and with the National Day holiday past, communication and internet access should be much easier. In the meantime, I’m working with the instructors to share more recent updates and photos with everyone following this board at home. Thanks for your patience! – Jody