Russ and Nicky in China
(another brief aside)

(This blogstory is slow-release and historical rather than real-time but I fancy breaking the fourth wall briefly just to say that right now I’m currently back in China, albeit in Hong Kong and only for a couple of hours to transfer to Vancouver.  The story of this journey is at visitingkim.tumblr.com.

This airport reminds me so much of Shanghai, down to the same long atriums with identical toilets and travellators.  The smoking rooms are just as stinky when the doors open, and the announcements are reassuringly familiar.  My thoughts are very much with Nicky, wherever she might be right now.)

BBQ’d yak

BBQ’d yak

Two very different ents

The rush away from the lakes is because we’ve organised two fun things for this evening - visiting a Tibetan family and seeing a stage show. The family is first, and is a bit of a disappointment. We were both expecting to go to some small house and see a slice of traditional family life. I was expecting us to be one of only a few people there, in a real house with a real language barrier and everything. Instead it is a somewhat gaudy exercise in abrasively loud karaoke and slightly dodgy catering for perhaps two hundred people. After being given a white scarf and being made to walk around a pile of flag-bedecked stones, we are shown a portrait of the Lama and then taken into what could only be described as a big top and made to sit on excruciatingly low stools (no mean feat for a man in a leg brace). The mass-catered food that they serve was a reasonable distraction from the shrieking harridan they have as our compere. Clearly this is no family meal, it is a stage show with food on the side. I make a small note on my phone - “spring reverb in the work of the devil” - as this family clearly does not know how to make a nice sounding PA system. The peanut and yak milk tea is passable but the rest of the food is largely flavourless and cold. Well, everything apart from the barbecued yak, which was a damn fine bit of BBQing if I say so myself. As part of the entertainment I am picked on as the only white-skinned man in the crowd to mash the tea, which is a rather comical dance that resembles the funky chicken but also involves ramming a 4-foot pole into a container filled with the aforementioned peanuts whilst the whole crowd sings and claps. I rather enjoy myself. I think of my old ladyfriend Emma on Sentosa Island back in 1997 where she went dancing in front of the crowd when I didn’t - she said “how can you be embarrassed when you will never see any of these people again?”. Good advice that I still remember to this day when it comes to making a fool of myself. After an hour or so of interminable call-and-response, I am glad to leave. We instead head on to a Western style theatre for a Tibetan dance show. This is much more to my liking. I mention to Nicky how I can see I’ve been raised to expect entertainment in this sort of non-partitipatory fashion. My favourite from this show is the drayan lutes. There are maybe 30 players on stage playing these ornate and characterful string instruments and hearing so many together at once really worked well. There is also a fantastic dance from a troupe of devils that imitate a huge wobbly caterpillar. All in all well worth a trip.

Shacks by the water

Shacks by the water

Mucking about in costume

Mucking about in costume

Fish in the dead lakes!

High water line, or life line?

High water line, or life line?

Dead trees and clouds that bode

Dead trees and clouds that bode

One end of the waterfall that we walked over, viewed from the bottom.

Prayer flags by the waterfalls

Prayer flags by the waterfalls

Long lake is long enough that we can’t see the other end

Long lake is long enough that we can’t see the other end