Tibetans and Horse: Xiahe, Gansu, China

•March 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

My epic trip across China was from Shanghai in the east to Kashgar in the far western province of Xinjiang.

I stopped off at Gansu in Inner Mongolia (northern China), to visit Xiahe, which is a Tibetan town next to the Labulang Monastery. In fact, I have to say (sadly), that the population ratio of Tibetans to Chinese in Xiahe is greater than in Tibet. The Tibetans in Xiahe were also somewhat more relaxed than those in occupied Tibet.

This photo was taken in ‘The Grasslands,’ an area beyond Xiahe that is very much like the pampas of Argentina.

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Xiahe, China, April, 1996

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Cyclo passes a Ford Zephyr Mk 1

•March 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

There were still plenty of old cars to be seen on the roads of Indonesia in 1995. Here, a cyclo passes a parked Mark 1 Ford Zephyr

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Bukatingi, N. Sumatra, Indonesia, March 1995

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Policeman on Xing Fu Motorcycle

•March 14, 2007 • Leave a Comment

This Chinese policeman poses for me on his Xing Fu motorcycle

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Lhasa, Tibet, April, 1995

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Peshawar Bedford Bus

•March 12, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I’ve always been well-received by local people during my budget travels. Muslim countries have a long tradition of hospitality to visitors. I’ve travelled in over 50 countries, but North Pakistan was definitely one of the most hospitable places I’ve been to.

It’s great to see old Bedfords again. This fabulous beast is a Peshawar city bus.

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Peshawar, North Pakistan, May, 1996

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Pig on Moped

•March 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Whereas Thailand, Cambodia’s richer neighbour, still has many variations of 3-wheeler vehicles for commercial transportation, Cambodia did not move beyond 2-wheels. Here, a live pig is strapped to the back of a motorcycle for the journey into Siem Reap weekly market. The pillion passenger can not reach the rear footpegs, so he is holding onto the pig.

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Siem Reap, N. Cambodia, March 1996

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Reclining Cyclo Driver, Pnomh Penh

•March 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

As elsewhere around warm parts of Asia, cycle-rickshaw drivers traditionally have an afternoon nap sheltering from the sun

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Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, 1997

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Tibetan Wagon Train

•March 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment

There were not many vehicles in Tibet before the Chinese invasion. The Chinese have built roads and brought in trucks and cars; and they recently opened a railway connection too.

But, apart from Lhasa and the few towns, for the majority of Tibetans it’s not really a vehicular part of the world.

Tibetans use horses as personal transport and horse carts or wagons for carriage of goods. In mountain areas yaks are either ridden or used as a beast of burden. Pushcarts are used in the city. And Tibetans walk long distances. There is even a (secret) yogic practice that involves speed-walking long-distance in a trance-like state.

It took me a week to travel overland from Lhasa back down to Kathmandhu. I saw many of these wagons, and the bleak landscapes and primitive transport are a memory I treasure.

Rather than wooden wagon wheels, either bicycle or lightweight motorcycle wheels are used. But, as my only real point of reference was black and white cowboy films on TV from my childhood, the scenes evoked for me some sort of alternative American ‘wild west.’

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Tibet, November, 1994

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