Sunday, May 13, 2007

Splendid Yunnan Part II - Tibetan Home Visit

This Part II of the Splendid Yunnan series. You can find Part I, Part III, Part IV

We visited a Tibetan home while we were at Shangri-la. Look at that handsome guy below with many many Hada's on his neck, that was our host. It is a Tibetan tradition to present to the guest a piece of Hada, to show their hospitality. As a guest, you should then say "Zha Xi De Le", which means lucky and happy in Tibetan.

The host and his siblings performed some traditional Tibetan dances and songs to entertain the visitors. Look at that wooden pillar in the centre of the living hall. The size does matter here. The bigger the pillar is, the more wealthy you are. It is a symbol of status in Tibetan culture. A typical Tibetan home has 3 floors. The ground floor is the stable for their horses and cows. It is usually built with clay and rocks. The 1st floor is where the living room is, which is built with wood. Trees in Tibet grow at a snail pace because of the extreme weather conditions. As a result, bigger trees take longer time to grow, and less common, and more expensive. The centre pillar in the living room is from a single tree trunk, so the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, the more wealthy the owner is. The 2nd floor are for bed rooms.

I didn't know Tibetans are such good singers, especially when it comes to the high keys. Sky is the limit to them. Anyway, they are living closest to the sky in planet earth.

Look, here I was happily drinking the Tibetan rice wine. I actually likes the Tibetan rice wine a lot. Shangri-la is at an altitude of 2800m above sea level, high altitude sickness made me have a bad headache. And I was having a flu at that time. The Tibetan rice wine, together with the Tibetan tea, relieved my high-altitude sickness, and cured my flu! I think I drank at least 10 cups of Tibetan rice wine that night. What an acoholic I am! Not actually. Tibetans respect people who are good drinkers. Look at the small cup that I used? Real Tibetans never drink with such a small cup, they use bowls. When ethnic Chinese entered Tibet in the early years, they were totally scared off by the Tibetan way of welcoming their guests. When you enter a Tibetan home, the host will present to you three bowls of Tibetan rice wine. You have drink all 3 bottom up. In recent years, the younger Tibetans have toned down that tradition when they receive Chinese guests.

Haha, here comes the hightlight of the day - The roasted suckling Mao-Nu. Mao-Nu is a kind of cow/ox which you can only find at very high altitudes. The meat is tender and delicious, however, it is also very heaty, in traditioanl Chinese medicine terms. That probably has something to do with the extreme cold weather that the Mao-Nu live in at high altitudes.

Chairman Mao's portrait occupies a prominent place in the living room. The host said Tibetans thank Chairman Mao for liberating from the slavery system. I am a bit skeptical about this. In Shangri-la, there is a Tibetan Buddhist Temple, which is called 'the little potala'. The temple was open to the tourists until very recently. Now the temple is closed to tourists as a result of a dispute between the lamas and the local government. The relationship between ethnic Han Chinese and Tibetans is still tense.

And if you are still wondering what noise is in a digital photograph, you can find plenty in the photos in this entry. All were shot at very high ISO settings, and none has gone through the noise reduction process. Spot the noise :)

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