Xiahe Trip Report August 2012
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Sep 2, 2012 10:10 AM Last Post By: Mensija
Aug 17, 2012 7:46 AM
Xiahe Trip Report August 2012We arrived in Lanzhou early via overnight train. There is an orderly taxi queue with an attendant managing passengers and taxis in front of the station. There was a 1 yuan service fee for using the queue and our driver used the meter. It cost almost 15 to get to the South bus station (departure point for the direct buses to Xiahe). We arrived at 7:30 at the bus station and got a ticket for the 8:30 bus. Tickets are 75 for the direct bus. It took about 4.5 hours but would have been much faster I'm sure if there had not been an accident blocking a bridge and forcing a crazy detour involving passengers walking a bit and the driver doing some tricky off-road maneuvering.
Turn right out of the bus station in Xiahe to head towards Labrang and the Tibetan area of town. You will pass an ICBC (bank) with a 24 hr ATM which took my card without a problem on the way. It is on the side of the road opposite the bus station. We checked a few hotels for doubles or twins, but prices seemed quite high for average looking rooms (280 and unwilling to negotiate seemed the norm...), so in high season don't expect to find prices like those listed in the LP. An exception was the Tara Guesthouse, at 50 RMB for a very basic double. We thought it was a good value and very close to the kora route and Labrang. Staff were friendly and helpful and when we were there 2 of them spoke English very well. I also enjoyed seeing all of the monks around the guesthouse all the time. Hot shower has limited hours and there are 2 shared toilets, but we never had to wait much. There is a large sink and basin in the courtyard where we did laundry which we hung outside on a roof terrace area (they have some lines strung across for drying). WiFi works well in their cafe (try the 8 treasure tea, which sounded like ba bo cha when they said it - tasty). We did notice people arriving later in the day on both of our days there get turned away because the guesthouse was full, even the dorm, so know that in high season it can be fully booked at times.
We walked the Kora route and just wandered around town the first day. On the second day we went to the Barkang (printing press) around 9 but had to wait a bit for the monks inside that building to finish their prayers before one showed us in and told us about it (10 yuan fee and they gave us a printed paper from one of the blocks, too). We then joined the English tour of Labrang for 40 RMB per ticket. The tour began promptly at 10:15 and ended at 11:15 outside the main hall where the monks gather for prayer at 11:30, so we stuck around for a bit to watch that.
The highlight of our day, though, was a visit to the Ganjia grasslands after lunch and a short relax time. The staff at Tara Guesthouse arranged a car for us for a 4 hour tour which took in the sights listed in the LP and the nice scenery of the grasslands (cost is 180 for a 4-seater, 250 for a 7... we found other people at Tara who joined us). I had asked about it the day prior and the Tara staff guy told me that he could call a driver for us anytime, so on the day we went I asked him at 1:00 to have the driver ready for us at 2:00, and it was no problem. The driver also stopped when we asked for us to get out and take photos.
We really enjoyed our visit to Xiahe. There were monks everywhere and it had a nice vibe. It was also nice to get out of the huge cities we had spent most of our trip in. We had the opportunity to talk with some of the monks (rather limited due to language barriers but we still had some discussion using some English, pantomime, drawings with a stick in the dirt, and with one who showed us pictures on his cell phone), which was interesting. I was a bit surprised but happy to have one approach and walk and talk with us while we walked the Kora route for part of the way.
Have fun in Xiahe!
Aug 17, 2012 8:47 AM
Aug 17, 2012 10:04 AM
Aug 17, 2012 1:31 PM
Aug 17, 2012 6:14 PM
4Labrang: In addition to the morning tour at 10:15, there is also another 15:15 English language tour. I did this one last month and the young monk taking us (5 people) around spent nearly 2 hours, showing us some interesting buildings and places that I noticed the Chinese tours weren't going to.
I also really liked Xiahe town and surroundings.
Sep 2, 2012 10:10 AM
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Coffee table looking bare?
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