Youning Si (to go or not to go?)

Last year we visited the Monastery of Youning Si in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous Region of Qinghai near Xining. The Monastery is famous not only for its beautiful setting, but also because the monks are descendants from the Mongols and continue to speak an old Mongolian dialect.

They are known as the Tu minority. We visited Youning Si by taking a bus to the town of Ping’an and then hiring a taxi the rest of the way. We never saw a check point or a police patrol during our entire visit.

However, we have had a few comments on our previously posted article saying the area is actually closed to foreigners and that any traveller found visiting without a permit, or without an authorised group, runs the risk of being punished or fined. The most recent comment came Continue reading “Youning Si (to go or not to go?)”

Youning Si 佑宁寺 – (Qinghai Province)

Tucked away in a steeply forested valley, Youning Si (Rgolung in Tibetan), a monastery belonging to the Gelugpa order (or the Yellow Hat Sect), is a fantastic hidden gem and makes for a great day trip from Xining. The setting is gorgeous: a couple of large, colourful monasteries that line the road up the valley mark the beginning of the pilgrims’ trail. From here, gaggles of pilgrims climb up the steep paths, half-smothered by lush vegetation and covered in prayer flags, which skirt the flanks of the mountain and lead to a scattering of small chapels and shrines, perched high on the hillside, their golden roofs gleaming from the distance. On rainy days, such as the day of our visit, the muddy paths can get quite treacherous. Needless to say that the pilgrims, including the frail old grannies and small toddlers, skip along the trails, ignoring the hairy bits. We on the other hand, with our clumsy feet and exaggerated fear of heights, held everybody up as we hesitantly negotiated the steepest parts.

At first sight, Youning Si could easily be mistaken for a typical Tibetan Monastery: the 200 or so shaven- headed monks (there once used to be 7000) wandering around in dark red robes, the temple decoration, the images of the deities, the photos of famous Lamas that adorn the altars, are all just as you would find them in any Tibetan monastery.

And yet, there is something different about Youning Si: the monastery Continue reading “Youning Si 佑宁寺 – (Qinghai Province)”

Our route 2009

Our Route: August / September 2009

Here is a quick breakdown of our route this summer made over a period of nearly six weeks using a combination of train, bus, taxi and boat travel. Some serious problems with altitude sickness made us cut short our visit to the area around Nangchen in Qinghai province.

As soon as we get back to Madrid (in 2 weeks) and go through our photos we’ll put up small texts for the blog and longer ones for the Web. We are also working on a new Photo gallery.

  • Tianshui and around: Maiji Shan – Gangu and the Moustached Sakyamuni – The Longmen Water Curtain Caves
  • Lanzhou – The Gansu Provincial Museum – The Yellow River
  • Xining – Youning Si and the Tu minority
  • Yushu and around – Longxi Si – Nangchen – Leba Gorge – Princess Wencheng Temple – Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall – Zhira Gompa – Trangu Gompa – Domkar Gompa – Sebda Gompa
  • Yushu to Ganzi – Serxu Dzong – Dzogchen Gompa – Manigango
  • Ganzi and around – Beri Gompa – Dagei Gompa
  • Chengdu and around – The New Jinsha Site Museum – Pingle – Luodai – Kuan Xiangzi
  • Chongqing and around – Ciqikou – Songji
  • Chongqing to Yichang – The Three Gorges – The Three Little Gorges – The Three Gorges Dam.
  • Wudang Shan – Climbing up – Climbing down
  • Wuhan – The Hubei Provincial Museum – Colonial Buildings- Great Food.
  • Beijing – New restaurants – The New Capital Museum – Black jails

Books read during the trip:

  • Author – Mo Yan / Big Breasts and Wide Hips
  • Author – Yu Hua / Brothers
  • Author – Zhu Wen / I Love Dollars And Other Stories of China