Western Travel: Week One

This week was a wonderful week for this EMU cross-cultural group! On Monday we traveled to Qingchengshan to climb a Daoist mountain. The scenery and energy there was spectacular. We climbed to the top, or at least, a top, where we ate lunch at a Daoist temple. On the way down exhaustion set in for many of us, but we had a relaxing boat ride and trip back to rest.

That next day we left Chengdu for the ancient capital city, Xi’an. Other than having a wonderfully comfortable hotel, we enjoyed biking around the city wall and exploring the city center. Xi’an was certainly built like a fortress with old watch towers and traditional Chinese buildings. We were very touristy in Xi’an, and there were many neat little shops for souvenirs. One favorite was a shop selling biblical passages in Chinese on scrolls. I think the owner was happy to sell to a group of Mennonites with lots of spending money.

Photo by Dylan Bomgardner
Photo by Dylan Bomgardner

The Terracotta Warriors museum was also a great attraction. The amount of time and effort put into making all of those warriors is staggering, though I don’t know the exact statistics. Let’s just say that many, many pictures were taken there. After a few more visits to Christian pagodas and mosques we left Xi’an for Lanzhou by overnight train.

We arrived in Lanzhou a bit tired and disheveled. After a few long bus rides we arrived in Xiahe where we still reside. Situated in Gansu province at about 9800ft of elevation, this Tibetan town is the most peaceful I have ever experienced. Combined with the mountainous scenery, fresh air (that one breathes slower due to the altitude), a large reason for the peace is the Labrang Monastery, home of about a thousand Tibetan monks.

Yesterday we visited the Monastery and it is certainly a powerful place. One of the Monks honored us by his presence, and we were briefly educated about the ways of Buddhism through a translator. The simple lifestyle and complete spiritual discipline was intriguing and impressive.

The grasslands of Ganjia called our name today. It was really cold and the bus ride was extremely rocky but the lunch and the atmosphere was tranquil and gigantic. We also went to a nomad village and a Black Hat Monastery (different from the Yellow Hat of Labrang). The spiritual worship and brutal, yet wonderful, lifestyle seen there was quite humbling.

Most of us are loving it here, but it’s time to leave! Tomorrow we head out for more adventure.

-Brad Mullet