Monday, June 15, 2009

Yak herd grazing on the hills

We drove to the banks of the Yellow River (stopping for a Tibetan Welcome at the river) and had to cross a range to get into the valley with the river. We passed, on the way, a new gas pipeline going in and I’ll have to check when I get back to see which one it is.

The ground is covered, when we start, with a thin layer of grass, over which the herds of yak and sheep are grazing, under the eyes of the shepherds. The land is very steep and in the road cuts you can see the underlying granite, with the thin soil on top, and then the grass layer. I was travelling with Chris Nebe, the film director, and he commented that this was one of the big issues between the Chinese and the farmers in Tibet, since the growth of the herds was overgrazing the pasture. To protect it, the government had cut-off access to some of the pasture to allow it to regenerate and this was causing some considerable turmoil.

As wee passed over into the next valley we suddenly saw the difference that rain makes in this part of the world, since the amount became sparse, and the hills barren rock and soil. The villages huddled along the side of the river that ran through, in and along side the green belt that allows them to grow food. There is a lot of use of greenhouses, and this provides the excellent melon of the region.

Coming to the town where the Concert for Water and Life (the 2009 Qinghai International Musical Journey on Water and Life) is being held, the little cars that I saw at the monastery became ubiquitous. They are three-wheelers and perhaps the Chinese equivalent of the Tata Nano, selling, so the folks in the car thought, for about 5-10,000 yen (at about 6.75 to the dollar).
The local Muslim population put salt in their tea, and hot milk, it takes a bit of getting used to.

The town on the edge of the hills.