Tibet and Western China in brief

Geographical features:

The Western part of China consists of one municipality – Chongqing, six provinces –  Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai, and three autonomous regions – Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang

Population: more than 300.000.000 people

Borders: North – Mongolia; Northwest – Kazakhstan; West – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan; Southwest – India and Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh , and Burma; South – Laos and Vietnam

The total area: 5,473,600 sq.km

Important waterway: Yellow River (Huang He) – the second longest river in China, well protected and a “birthplace” of Chinese Civilization

Important cities: Ürümqi and Lhasa

Highest point: The Mount Everest or Chomolungma among Tibetans

Lowest point: Turpan Depression

Time zone: UTC+8

Climate: Mid-temperate and Plateau climate zone

Highest season to travel: June to August and October

Lowest season: November to March

Best means of transportation: Bullet train or G Train and Taxi

Fauna: White-Flag dolphin, Golden-Haired Monkey, South Tiger, Tibetan Mastiffs

Environmental issues: Air pollution, earth pollution and water pollution

History of Western China:

Until 7th century – developing own language and alphabet, writing and reading skills. First grammar book. From 7th century to 13 th century – Buddhism development and first Dalai Lama took control over the region. In 1950 – Communist Party of China, led by Mao Tse-Tung, entered Tibet and crushed the smaller Tibetan Army. They took over control of Tibet, and demanded that they accept new Chinese power and occupation of their territory. 1951 – they were forced to sign the Tibetan-Chinese agreement and Tibet became a National autonomous region, under the rule of the Communist Party. In 1959 – Dalai Lama XVI and other political activists leave Tibet and move to India as refugees in order to avoid being killed. From 1987 until today – there have been many protests and uprisings surrounding human rights issues.

Cultural characteristics and features:

Political regime: Socialist republic run by the Communist Party of China

Ethnic minorities: Hui (Moslem), Lhoba, Moinba, Naxi, Nu, Drung, Mongolian and Tibetan

Languages: Sino-Tibetan with two main dialects – Khams Tibetan and Amdo Tibetan

Religions: Tibetan Buddhism and Islam

Main sources of revenue: Agriculture, producing milk and butter

Currency: Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan Renminbi. 1CAD$ equals 4.8 CNY (according to www.xe.com)

Handicraft: Jewelry with turquoise or other gems, copper pots and other dishes

Gastronomy: The main ingredients of any Tibetan food are flour, barley, sometimes meat and dairy products:

Tibetan dish is Tsampa that consists of flour made of barley, ground into the fine flour; then they put some flour with salted butter tea in a bowl, mix it with your left hand’s fingers and roll it into small lumps and squeeze it. This is the best food for travel, and the main food that they use with any of their dishes. They also use a lot of yak butter and salted butter.

Yoghurt is another very important dairy product that they include to their every day diet. For the yoghurt they use a lot of milk of the yaks that is very creamy and has a lot of fat.

Momo or stuffed raviolis can be stuffed with vegetables or meet such as pork or beef, sometimes they also add some cheese inside.

Soups are very important religious or holiday food. For example, they cook Gouthouk for the Tibetan New Year. It contains such ingredients as meat, radish and pellets of corn flour.

Drinks : Tea with yak butter and a little bit salted. It is called Djia Tu.

Protocol: Based on Buddha’s teachings:

-When you greet people, do not forget to add “La” after the salutation of Tibetan person. It will show them your respect.

-Respect every person and treat everyone equally.

-Do not judge anyone.

-Talk about Buddha.

-When you visit the temples, please remain quiet and do not laugh. Sometimes, when you enter the shrine room, the Buddhist practitioner can do three gestures facing the shrine or show any signs in front of your face, but do not be afraid and do not try to move or avoid those signs, because he makes the religious symbols for the good purpose to show your importance.

-Before you enter, make sure that you remove your shoes, and that you are dressing properly – no tops, mini skirts or shorts.

-Do not sit with your legs outstretched – this is considered to be disrespect.

-Do not point at anyone or anything with your feet.

-Do not chew the food loudly.

Accessibility” Ürümqi Diwopu international airport, Chengdu Shuangliu international airport, Chongqing Jiangbei international airport

Main airlines: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, and Shanghai Airlines; as well as local such as Air China Inner Mongolia Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Tibet Airlines, Urumqi Air

Exit requirements: Valid passport, for at least 6 months prior the departure, passport. The tourist visa is required. If you are visiting the Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures for the organized tour with a group, you must obtain a permit. Most of the times, the permit is being refused for tourists, so before to apply, you have to contact a reputable travel agency that can help you with applying for the permit.

Safety and health issues: Routine vaccines, there is no risk of yellow fever disease.

It is not suggested to drink the tap water because it might cause diarrhea of tourists who are not adapted to local water and food

And remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

It is highly suggested to bring a small medical kit with you especially if you are traveling to the rural areas or places that are far from the city centers

Also, if you travel to Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang, you should be aware of high altitude that is more than 3000 meters above the sea level. For many tourists it is a big problem because not everyone knows about this factor, so when they get there, they are feeling bad during 2-5 days, depending on the health issues of the person

(Daria Zaborovetc)

 

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