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Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

In Brief: Photos from a 5-day trip through the mountains of the Gannan Tibetan prefecture in Gansu Province.

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Gongtang Pagoda, Xiahe, Gansu.

We made a 5-day trip to check out monasteries, temples, and small villages in the Tibetan area of Gannan, driving more than 900km through the mountains and getting a great look at local Tibetan and Muslim culture.

The scenery was varied: monasteries and mosques, grasslands and mountains, and 4,000m-plus mountains. Read on to find out more about the trip!

On the first day we passed through Lanzhou, stopping for a meal of the famous Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles and then driving on through Muslim villages on the way to Xiahe.

At Xiahe everything changed to the Tibetan style – clothes, architecture, culture ... everything. Here we visited Labrang Monastery and the less well-known Deer Long Monastery.

Next on the itinerary was Langmusi, another small town with an important temple. On the way there we stopped for a hike in the mountains, and after arriving in Langmusi we toured the town, taking in the temple before dinner.

The next day we were set for a big hike, heading towards the Zhagana area. We packed a picnic lunch and headed up the trail towards ‘Day Light’ Cliff, passing through valleys and high-altitude meadows on the way up. The hike finished at the door of our hostel in Zhagana.

After a good sleep, we work up and had a look about the village before moving on again, driving to Hezuo and – of course – stopping for a walk in the mountains on the way there.

We finished the trip with a hike near Lanzhou, and then it was time to fly back to Beijing.

Day 1: Deerlong Temple, Xiahe

Our guide waiting for us on the steps of the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Our guide waiting for us on the steps of the temple.

We started with a look at the top end of the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We started with a look at the top end of the temple.

Views of the halls at the back - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Views of the halls at the back.

Inside the halls - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Inside the halls.

Decorations on a door - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Decorations on a door.

Day 2: Labrang Monastery, and on to Langmusi

Prayer wheels in a long row - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Prayer wheels in a long row.

Walking in the sun - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Walking in the sun.

We headed over to check out the temple’s school of medicine - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We headed over to check out the temple’s school of medicine.

A sculpture formed with yak butter and painted - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A sculpture formed with yak butter and painted.

An older part of the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

An older part of the temple.

Monks waiting for the prayer ceremony - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Monks waiting for the prayer ceremony.

She’s also waiting for the prayer ceremony - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

She’s also waiting for the prayer ceremony.

Big white stupa - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Big white stupa.

Monks heading in to the prayer hall - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Monks heading in to the prayer hall.

The monk up on the roof was blowing on a big trumpet - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The monk up on the roof was blowing on a big trumpet.

Finished trumpeting - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Finished trumpeting.

Behind the door is the tantric school - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Behind the door is the tantric school.

We hiked up into the hills behind the monastery - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We hiked up into the hills behind the monastery.

Gongtang Pagoda - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Gongtang Pagoda.

A walkway by a temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A walkway by the pagoda.

As well as temples, there were mosques - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

As well as temples, there were mosques.

About to enter a pavilion - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

About to enter a pavilion.

The wetlands - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

On the way to Langmusi we stopped for a look at a wetlands park.

The crane sculptures are part of a new wetlands park project - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The crane sculptures are part of a new wetlands park project.

Group photo at the Guomang Wetlands - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Group photo at the Guomang Wetlands.

A village nearby - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A village nearby.

Langmu Monastery - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Langmu Monastery.

Little shacks in Langmusi - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Little shacks in Langmusi.

Hills behind Langmusi - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Hills behind Langmusi.

Horse on the hill - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Horse on the hill.

Younger monks by a stream - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Younger monks by a stream.

Prayer wheels - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Prayer wheels.

Walking through Langmusi Town - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Walking through Langmusi Town.

Walking through Langmusi Town - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Walking through Langmusi Town.

A new temple, founded in 2015 - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A new temple, founded in 2015.

A view from the other side of the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A view from the other side of the temple.

A deer - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Hello, deer.

We stopped for a chat with a local fellow who wanted to know where he could purchase hiking poles like ours - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We stopped for a chat with a local fellow who wanted to know where he could purchase hiking poles like ours.

Reinhard in front of a shed that has a big prayer wheel hidden inside - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Reinhard in front of a shed that has a big prayer wheel hidden inside.

Lovely light at sunset - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Lovely light at sunset.

Sunset at Langmusi - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Sunset at Langmusi.

Day 3: Over to Zhagana

Waiting to begin the fieldwork - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Local lady, ready for work.

We were very curious about how the logs were going to get down to the village below - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We sat down for a rest, too. We wanted to see how the logs were going to be transported down to the village below.

Using yaks to bring timber down from the hills, getting ready to build a new house - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Yak power! The logs were to be used to build a new house.

Starting the hike up to Daylight Cliff - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Starting the hike up to Daylight Cliff.

Cows and yaks - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Cows and yaks.

Mushroom in the forest - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Mushroom in the forest.

The beginning of the climb up to Daylight Cliff - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The beginning of the climb up to Daylight Cliff.

Interviewing a yak - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Interviewing a yak.

Getting closer to the top - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Getting closer to the top.

Hiking up - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Hiking up.

We hiked through a pine forest - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We hiked through a pine forest.

Further up into the forest - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Further up into the forest.

The trail took us through vales and glens - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The trail took us through vales and glens.

Heading back down the hill - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Coming over a hill.

High-altitude meadows above Zhagana Village - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

High-altitude meadows above Zhagana Village.

Hoop-la! - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Hoop-la!

Our guesthouse at Zhagana - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Our guesthouse at Zhagana.

Day 4: Tibetan areas and Hezuo

We woke up the next morning to find things very misty and mysterious - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We woke up the next morning to find things very misty and mysterious.

The hills behind our guesthouse - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The hills behind our guesthouse.

Older houses near our guesthouse - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Older houses near our guesthouse.

The mist was getting thicker and thicker - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

The mist was getting thicker and thicker.

More mountains, seen on a hike - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

More mountains, seen on a hike.

At this point we were about 3,500m above sea level - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

At this point we were about 3,500m above sea level.

Prayer flags high up on a hill - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Prayer flags high up on a hill.

We added some of our own to the collection - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

We added some of our own to the collection.

One of our stops was Niba Village, more rustic than the others - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

One of our stops was Niba Village, more rustic than the others.

More prayer wheels - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

More prayer wheels.

Old houses in the village - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Old houses in the village.

Day 5: Back to Lanzhou

Near Lanzhou we stopped to visit this nine-storey temple of the Milarepa Buddha - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Near Lanzhou we stopped to visit this nine-storey temple of the Milarepa Buddha.

Inside the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Inside the temple.

A thangka - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

A thangka.

Local students visiting the temple - Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, and the Zhagana area in southern Gansu, September 2016

Local students visiting the temple.

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